Enhance Drumset With Acrylic Tubes

17 Aug


Building Tube Toms – DIY

By Roger Arrick

Return to Roger’s Page

These tube toms are modeled after TAMA Octobans which are a set of 8 tuned toms of varying lengths, 6″ diameter, and usually made out of acrylic. Octabans are nice but they can be an expensive addition to a starving drummer’s kit (Insert drummer joke here..). These instructions will show you how to make your own just like I did. Even though I don’t play for money (so I’m not starving :), I built these just because I like to build things.

Parts Part: 6 inch OD (outside diameter) 1/8 inch wall acrylic tubing *
Source: Plastics distributor
Price: $10.00 per foot
The biggest problem is getting the 6″ OD tubing. It must be 6″ OUTSIDE DIAMETER! I had to make many calls and finally found a plastic distributor in Dallas that had it. Get out the phone book and make some calls since a local supply will save shipping costs. I have also heard of people using 5″ PVC with success but the drum heads have a small gap between the rim and the tube.
I’ve been told that has this and will cut it for you. Part: Cannon Percussion Chrome Tom Lug
Source: Drums Etc. 800-922-3786
Price: UP889C $45 for a package of 12
If these don’t come with tension rods, then you’ll have to buy them separately.

Part: Cannon Percussion Tom Mounting Pit
Source: Drums Etc. 800-922-3786
Price: UP8112C $12 each

Part: Cannon Percussion 6″ Steel Hoop
Source: Drums Etc. 800-922-3786
Price: 6B-4 $13 each
6″ hoops almost always have 4 lug holes, but double check.

Part: Remo 6″ Drum Heads
Source: Drums Etc. 800-922-3786
Price: CS-0306-10 $13 each
Of course you can use any drum head you like – 6″

Part: Stand – Almost any type of drum/cymbal stand will work.
Source: Music store, Ebay

These prices might change, so call or check their website. There are other sources for drum parts such as American Music Drum Parts and, so do some research.

Building the Tube Toms 1. You’ll need to cut the tubes. My set of 4 has the following lengths:

    10.5 inches
    13.5 inches
    17.5 inches
    22.5 inches

Cutting the tubes is difficult because acrylic will easily crack. Get help holding it very still and use a fine tooth wood saw to make the cut. Slow and gently. I made a box using 2×6’s to hold them. Stuffing a small pillow or clothes inside will help support the tube while sawing. The cut should be straight and perpendicular to the tube sides so the drum head will touch completely around and produce a good tone. The plastic distributor may cut it for you for a small extra fee.

2. Drill the Tubes.

This depends on the lugs you buy. Most lugs need 2 holes each and most 6″ rims will need 4 lugs evenly spaced around the drum. Use a flexible seamstress ruler and mark where each lug should go with a Sharpie. The distance between lug mounting holes will be 4-3/4 inches if the tube circumference is 18-3/4 inches. You’ll also need holes for the stand mounting hardware. There are special drill bits designed for acrylic but I was able to use a standard bit successfully Go VERY SLOW and let the material cool if it starts to gum up.

3. Sand the edges.

I did this using common 220 grit sand paper. It was very easy to get a rounded edge on both ends. This worked fine for the drum head’s bearing edge.

4. Paint the tubes.

You may want to sand the tubes lightly to make the paint stick better.

5. Mounting the Lugs

The lugs I used had a threaded protrusion that extended into the tubes beyond the inside surface, so I stacked washers under the screws to fill the space.

6. Mounts for the stand.

This part is tricky and depends on the stand you get. I bought a TAMA double tom stand off Ebay, then bolted 2 of the toms together (2 pair of 2 toms) with some square aluminum stock. Then I used tom mounts from Drums Etc to mount each pair to the tom stand.

6. Send me a picture.

If you build a set, email a picture to Roger Arrick

Here’s my current set showing the Tube Toms.

The following pictures were sent to me by people who built their own Tube Toms. From Frank
Roger, I had been exchanging emails with Eric about our experiences building Octabans and he suggested I email you a picture of mine. Because I started with 3′ lengths of extruded tubing, I got 9 drums in 2″ increments from 8″ to 24″. So I ended up with a “Nonaban” set instead of “Octaban” set. In terms of mounting, it allows you to stagger them. My key learning that I would like to share is to cover the entire tube with contact paper to protect it. Even do a strip around the inside edge if you plan to use a router for bearing edges. Do not overlap the contact paper, as this will affect how the router cuts the bearing edge. Thanks for your early guidance and good luck to your readers!

From Paul
Hi Roger, I wanted to say thanks for posting your pics and instuctions on the web. It was quite inspirational and very helpful! I decided to just build two. One 13 1/2 and one 17 1/2. I didn’t crack the plastic at all. I did find that you were not kidding about having to be really careful with the materials.

From Gary
Roger, I decided to take a chance & build a set of three Octobans to replace my Roto toms, but I will still use the roto toms only in a different spot. Three octobans side by side instead of two on top & two on the bottom. If this works out good & they sound good, I already have a buyer who will buy them from me for the price I payed for them with no profit. If I like them, I will plan on building a set of 5 high pitch with 6″ heads & a set of 2 low pitch with 8″ heads & rims (hoops) one difference in yours & mine will be, mine will be clear (see through) that is what the guy wants should he like them & buy them from me, if I build a set for me , I will get the shells in translucent yellow or amber to mach my set. I got the tubes from a plastic place in California which cuts them to any length you want them for no charge & I got the hardware from the place you got your lugs from all of which is on order & I should get all the material in 7 – 10 days. Wish me luck & I will send you pics of them when the are done

From William
I was looking online a couple of months ago, and you inspired me to build my own set of octobans. I ended up just using schedule 40 pvc 5″ I.D. pipe, which is about 5.6 OD- Fine. It worked. They sound awesome, and look awesome.

From Thorn
I came across your site a while back. You mentioned you wanted to see other’s home made octobans/tube toms, so here you are.

From Henning
Hello. Thanks to your site I decided to build my own octobans. For the well-known reasons that firstly the ones from TAMA are unbelieveably expensive, and secondly I thought it could be fun manufacturing them myself. And, I was right, because it worked out well and they sound good. Since you give very detailed information and useful advice I didn’t have much difficulty building them. In Germany, the only possible outside diameter of the pipe is 150mm (others would be 140mm or 16mm), since inches are unknown here! So, the pipe is 2mm too small which causes the head to give little wrinkles at the rim but fortunately that does not weaken the sound significantly. Mine are acrylic as well (as you can see in the picture …), but I didn’t paint them as I prefer that “vintage-look”. The sizes are 600mm and 660mm, which is approx. 24 and 26,5 inches. Thanks again for your very useful and helpful site!
Best wishes,
Henning (Berlin, Germany)

From Alexandre
Hi Roger, after visiting your home page I decided to build my octobans. I used 2 drain pipes e 2 set of Brazilian 6″ percurssion instrument called “Tamborim” and a old cymbal stand to mount them. I will buy hoops and lugs (It´s hard to find 6″ in Brazil) soon for professional looks. Thanks for ideas….

From Eric
Hey Roger, Well, here it is! My first attempt at making an acrylic tube drum. Thanks to the info on your website and a little experimentation, I have the confidence to make a complete set. I’ll send more pictures as soon as I receive the rest of the acrylic tubing and get them assembled.


1 Comment

Posted by on August 17, 2007 in Acrylic, DIY, Fabrication, Recreation


One response to “Enhance Drumset With Acrylic Tubes

  1. Rubio

    February 2, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I am looking for a set of acrylic octobans, all the guys here make look eassy so all give it a try.


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