Odaiko New England

Patching Drum Heads

Two of our ni-shaku (or as we call them: 60-gallons) drum heads had holes in them.   With our Miyake workshop with Kazuhiro Tsumura coming up, we scrambled to get the materials we needed to re-head.  Unfortunately, our tacks and hides did not arrive in time, so I was forced to patch the heads.  Asking around, someone suggested I use fiberglass boat repair.   Rita had some spare fiberglass cloth, so I just needed epoxy.  I looked around for something flexible and found car bumper epoxy, which, sadly, only came in silver.

The patching had variable success.

The two tears were very different.  One had been “patched” with duct tape and had grown to about 7″ long.  The other one was much smaller, only about 3″ long. Application was reasonably easy, but the longer tear was bulging  out, so I applied a piece of plastic to it, and put it on a surface to let it dry flat.   This might have affected the drying of it, but I’m not certain if it made an adhesion difference and the plastic made the surface perfect.

So how did it fare?

Failed patch on 7" tear

The larger patch didn’t even last an hour.  It had separated cleanly from the drum.  I ripped off 75% that had come free.  The last 25% slowly came off before the end of the workshops.   I think, even with how quickly the patch failed, it still gave us a bit longer on the head.  By the end of the workshop the tear was huge and the head was mostly unplayable even for the purpose of practicing. Watching the patch fail, I’m not sure there was anything that could have patched a tear that large.  With each hit, the two edges were traveling a huge distance, and mixed with the vibration,  it’s a harsh environment for any patch.


sucessful patch The small patch did well and survived the two days of Miyake! Close to 6 hours of use, and it didn’t really show any fraying or cracking.  We made sure to turn the patch as far as we could from where people should be hitting to take the strain off of it.   I’m not sure how it would have fared if it had been closer to the center of the head.


All in all, not bad at all, in a pinch.  I’m really looking forward to getting these two re-headed and back in shape, especially since I think most of the heads are all the same age and so the other ones are likely to tear soon as well.

And the workshop itself?  Amazing! But that is a tale for another post.

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