Now the Really Scary Part!
The first problem with setting up hardware holes is to make sure your lugs are evenly spaced around the shell. There are a variety of ways to do this if you don't have a DF Layout Mat.
  1. Make your own layout mat. You can do this on a computer if you have a program with drawing capabilities. You can also use a large piece of paper and protractors and rulers to draw out your spacings.
  2. Use your hoops as a guide. Just make sure the hoop is evenly spaced around the shell.
  3. You can use a flexible rule to measure around the circumfrence, but this is not recommended as it is time consuming and not very accurate.
  4. We'll use the DF Layout Mat and T-Jigs here.


The DF Layout Mat has concentric circles from 4 inches in diameter to 24 inches in diameter. Normally you would mark your lug, strainer, butt, grommet, and badge holes AFTER the shell is finished. We are using an unfinished shell for clarity.


We suggest that you place the outer veneer seam where it will be least likely seen. We suggest near the butt plate directly underneath a lug.


To mark the shell, use a fine point sharpie marker. You won't have to use any pressure to get a clean, crisp mark. This is especially important when you are marking over finishes.


It is very important to use a tape that will not leave any residue and will be very easy to remove without damaging the finish. "Painter's blue" tape works very well and is available everywhere paint is sold. We prefer 3M brand. Don't ruin your drum to save $1!

Place a strip of tape around the perimeter of the shell. Using the T-Jig, mark the lug spacing at the color coded line. In this case we are marking holes for an 8 lug drum.

Ooooh, crisp and clean...


Place a strip of tape at each lug spacing mark.


Mark a perpendicular line down the shell. Builder's squares work too for this.


Here is the lug we will use. It has a 2 inch mounting hole spacing.


Measure the depth of your shell. This one is 5 1/8" because we haven't cut the bearing edges yet. This is because we will index the snare bed off the lug spacing.

Adjust the T-Jig to 1/2 of the shell depth.


The zero mark is the center of the shell. Mark 1/2 the lug mounting hole spacing to either side of the zero mark. 2 inches divided by 2 equals 1.


Place your shell again on the Layout Mat so the lug spacing lines are again on the red marks (8 lug drum). Mark the center between the two lugs.


Set the edge of the T-Jig to zero, then mark your bottom strainer hole. The strainer we want to use has a 1 inch mounting hole spacing, so we mark the second hole at 3.


The butt plate we are using has a 1 3/4" mounting hole spacing. Divide that number by 2 (1 3/4" divided by 2 = 7/8") and mark on either side of the zero. The parallel lines on the Layout Mat are spaced every 1/8" inch.


Transfer your perpendicular lines down the shell, and mark the butt mounting holes. In this case we are mounting it 2 inches from the bottom bearing edge.


Use the same methods described above to mark you air grommets and badge holes.


To drill, you can use a trusty hand drill or a drill press. If you use a drill press, make a drilling platform that will sit on the table. The shell should sit right on the platform and be supported directly underneath where you will be drilling holes. You can make it so the drill press table will be inside the shell when the shell rests on the platform (better for benchtop drill presses), or so the entire platform and shell are on the table.

To prevent the wood from "busting out" on the inside of the shell, use a backing piece of wood. If you make a drill press platform, you can make the platform from a good sturdy wood like maple, then use the platform for a backing piece. If you set up the platform each time so the drill bit will be drilling directly into the hole in the platform, you'll have a ready made backing piece at all times. If you use a 1/4" drill for the lugs, and a 5/32" drill for the strainer and butt hardware, have a different hole for each setup. Of course, you'll need to rig the platform so you can clamp it to the table.

Make sure your drill bits are sharp! It is helpful to use a good brad point bit, especially if you are using a hand drill. A #1 Unibit is also used by a lot of drum makers with very good results. Don't be afraid to use a drill bit that is a bit larger than 1/4" for lugs (like 17/64" or 9/32"). In fact, we recommend using a larger bit for solid shells, segment, and stave drums. These shells will expand and contract more than ply shells. If the shell expands or contracts, it will make the lug fit very tight and choke the drum. This we know from experience!

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