Building Tube Toms - DIY|
By Roger Arrick
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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.
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 http://www.sdplastics.com 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
DrumMaker.com, so do some research.
Building the Tube Toms
1. You'll need to cut the tubes. My set of 4 has the following lengths:
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 2x6'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
Here's my current set showing the Tube Toms.
The following pictures were sent to me by people who built their own Tube Toms.
Your web inspired me to made them. One of 13 1/2 and the other of 17 1/2.
Regards from Mexico!
Great site on building octobans! Here’s my contribution.
Love your instructions and photos. Here is a picture of mine.
I used 5" PVC at 10.5, 13.5, 16.5, 19.5" lengths.
The 5" PVC is 5.6" OD and the head is 6" so I cut a 1/2" wide ring of 6" PVC and made an outside ring on the 5" PVC.
After cutting the bearing surface the OD of the drum is 5.95".
Because the body of the drum is smaller, I'm using bass lugs to keep the rods nice and straight.
I'm using 6" Remo Emperor suede heads and the Inferno wrap that is on my bass shell.
Thanks for the advice on the 1/4 inch bolts It worked great. I found your site about 4 months ago and since I have always wanted Octobans and never could afford them. I decide to build them like you did. It took awhile but I finally finished last week I decides to go with 8 They start at 10," 12," 14,"16," 18," 20," 22," and 24" which works out to be the 2 6 foot pieces of acrylic I ordered. I used 1" aluminum square tubing which a friend welded for me. for the Octoban rack. I ordered and old tama post holder off Ebay and got the bottom half of the stand off a friend. The whole project did not cost that much but the paint was expensive. I had to paint them! what a pain in the butt. The prep, priming, and painting took the most time, the rest was easy. ANY way thanks for your inspiration I attach 6 pics if you want to use them on your site.
AS others on the internet I found your inspirational site on building tube toms !! and I actually read through your time line of drum sets that have come and gone. You are not alone. My first set was a Ludwig 3 piece put together by buying a snare, bass drum and a cymbal. But once I tapped on the snare for the first time it was “love at first site” to drumming. I have been hooked ever since.
I am now building what I call “my last set ever” I bought one Mapex tom for a sample color and have been searching ebay and other sites looking for a piece by piece purchase. I did purchase a few years back an 8 pc concert tom set on ebay, no name brand, zip stripped them and stained to match the Mapex Trans Cherry. 16 coats of high gloss conversion varnish. Nice filled finish. I am a custom cabinet maker / finisher / IT security analyst, 25 years of finishing at my last job.
On to my set of Hexagons’… I went with 6 toms rather than 4 or 8, figuring I could tune them to a 6 string guitar.. or at least that’s my concept. They were very easy to cut as I have a friend with a complete wood working shop and a professional table saw. I started at 10.5” long and added 3“ on each. Once again finished to match Mapex trans cherry, 16 coats of conversion varnish. Perfect match I can say. I bought a piece of the 6” OD piece acrylic tubing but when I put a Remo head over the tube it was way too tight. So I scrapped that and went with 5 inch Schedule 80 PVC, I veneered them with maple, stained and finished them in the aforementioned varnish. I used a 45 degree chamfer bit with a ¾ hp router for the bearing edge and it cut like butter. I used stands I had from the 8 pc concert tom set as I am replacing them with Mapex TS550a stands.
I’m a big RUSH fan as well.. Neil is amazing to say the least.
After I saw your ideas and ways of making octobans, I decided to make some of my own!
I spent a lot of time building them, but finally they are complete.
Thanks for your advice and inspiration, it was very helpful.
Regards from Croatia.
I found you website to be an inspiration. This is my first attempt at tube toms. They worked out great. You're right......acrylic is
VERY east to break. You must take your time. I cut mine 15", 18", 21", and 24". The color is actually dark burgundy. The flash
made the pictures look brighter. I hope mine make it to your site.
Hello Roger, I was browsing on the net and hit your site.
I made these tube toms.
They are to expensive to buy so I manufactured them myself in a period of 2 weeks.
My profession is mechanic/electronics and my most favorite drummer is of course MP!
I made them with PVC (thick 3.8 mm) 160 mm2 cut and re-designed to 150mm2>>>6 inch.
I got the exact lengths from the Portnoy site.
The sound is unbelievable, almost exact as his!! I am very happy with them
And i was forced to restyle my drumkit but as you see on the picture, that was easy!!
Octo's fit everywhere if you want them to.
Hello Roger. I finally got my toms finished.
I'm still messing with the stand and where to put them in my kit.
I got the tubes from SD plastics which they cut at no charge.
I actually have two more toms since I had to buy the minimum of 12' of tubing.
I went with 28, 26, 24, and 22" lengths.
The other two are 22, and 18. The hardware came from Drummaker.com.
I have a total of about $300 invested for six toms.
Thanks again for the advice and the great website.
When I saw your site a few months agow I was inspired to make them myself.
After a long search I finaly found the right tubes. I chose for an acrylic transparant tube, so I can paint them in any color I want (I'm planning to buy a new kit in white). Depts : 600 and 535 mm (replica of Tama octobans).
On the upper part of the photo you can see pearl octobans which I have for a while. On the lower part you can see the new one. They sound much better und look much better. I'm planning the renew my pearl octobans and replace them with homemade.
Thanks for the help and inspiration and greetings from Belgium,
Firstly, thanks for your site- it inspired me to have a go at building some Octobans.
They turned out brilliantly !!
I have also started a page at my web site
showing my step by step on how I did them.
I made two octobans of 8" diameter and 18" and 22" depth, from PVC-pipe. I am using Remo Emperor heads and don't really like the characteristics of the sound with that particular head, but the overall sound an versatility of the octobans is great. I went through quite some (financial) trouble to get them in the same colour as my drum kit, I play a Tama Superstar in Custom Ocean Fade, which isn't blue or green but not quite turquoise either... So I went to a paint store and had a spray can custom mixed. The lighter parts are a thin layer of the ocean fade colour, the darker parts are another one or two layers. The gradient is not quite as smooth as the original, but they now look like high-end, expensive pieces of equipment.
Now all I need to do is DIY a stand for them, but that shouldn't be a problem, I already have some tubing that fits the brackets, if I bolt that onto a regular cymbal stand I will have a good stand for my octobans.
Thanks a lot for the website with the useful advice!
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!
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.
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 http://www.sdplastics.com/profiles_1.html & 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
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.
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.
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!
Henning (Berlin, Germany)
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....
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.