I have hand made one drum. I carved it from a live poplar tree. When finished it stood 16" tall with a drum head greater than 10", but not much. I hand sanded it inside and out after I burned the center out. I hand carved some animals in the side like a wolf and a brown bear.

I am wondering is there a way I can do this on a lathe?

  • Can I turn a log if it has been hollowed out?
  • What tools will I need? (besides a good lathe)
  • Can this drum be put on a lathe to clean the inside?

I also have a new project that is also poplar that is 10" high with a 10.5" base. Base wall is about 1.5" thick with the head walls being .25" thick/1.00" tall they widen out to base thickness.

  • Could a lathe be used to thin the out side walls?
  • How would this be done?
    • I previously used fire and chisel to clean out the center.

Trees don't ever grow straight or round so I my not always be "DEAD CENTER" but I feel I get close. That's why one side of the drum wall is a little thicker then the rest.

  • This is my concern: can I turn drums on a lathe even if it is not true center?

I enjoy drilling the first fire hole and burning my drum hollow but I want a faster and cleaner outside.

  • It's unclear what you want to do. Can you edit the question and explain if you want advice on doing a project like this using a lathe instead or do you want to do something to the existing drum on a lathe (e.g., turning it down or cleaning up the insides) What, exactly, do you want to do to some material once it is installed onto a lathe?
    – user5572
    Jun 12, 2019 at 20:34
  • 1
    Also, remember that this site is a place for question and answers, not as a replacement for basic research (though existing Q&A is certainly useful for research). What have you researched so far? What does a web search like "wood lathe turning a drum" get you?
    – user5572
    Jun 12, 2019 at 20:36
  • 3
    I don't do a whole lot of turning, but starting with a 16" long by 10" piece that you can't get between centers with a very deep hollow for your first turning project sounds like a recipe for disaster. Start with spindle turning and work your way up to bigger pieces, bowls, then deeper hollows. Jun 12, 2019 at 20:52
  • 3
    This is certainly possible but I strongly recommend you put aside any plans to try it for now. To start you'd need a reasonably powerful lathe and experience in using it to be able to do a job like this safely. Lathe safety is something that has been touched on here a couple of times and I like to make no bones about how important it is because so much info out there doesn't emphasise it. Fast-spinning wood can literally blow up if you get a catch or the wood just comes apart, one experienced turner had this and lost an eye, and could have died from the injuries. It's no joke.
    – Graphus
    Jun 13, 2019 at 7:21
  • I agree, safety first! In terms of the future of this Q&A, if there is room for a canonical "techniques for turning large items without holding both centres" (wow, that does sound scary) Q&A I'll defer to the community. But there is actually a lot of information already on the internet on doing exactly what is asked here. This is my soft vote for closing "too broad".
    – user5572
    Jun 13, 2019 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


I have made drums before using a jig on a router table. Much, much safer than a lathe for something that large, and gives a nice finish. Basically you fasten the drum lengthwise through an axle, and spin it (slowly) over the router table. For the inside, you can use another jig to hold the router above the drum, and spin the drum on rollers.

It's pretty hard to explain but easy to visualize - check out my video on making it.

The routing part starts at about 2:27; prior to that I am showing the glue-up (this is a segmented drum, not a single log).

(A second drum that I made used a similar process for routing the inside, except I turned the router upside-down. This gave more control and was immune to the router gouging the drum. The third video in the series shows this; start at about 1:00)


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