DIY American History Civil War Drum Project

The role of a drummer boy during the Civil War was an important one. These boys, some as young as ten years old, were commissioned for more than just playing music for the troops.  The drums were also a way of communicating to the soldiers when the commander’s voice could no longer be heard amongst the chaos of battle.  The drummers would signal for the soldiers to advance into action, retreat and regroup. Most of the commands to the marching men were emitted by these drums and the young boys who played them.


To make a Civil War drum, here’s a simple list of materials you will need to make this project::


  • A coffee can
  • Acetate cloth or faux leather (or comparable fabric)
  • Glue
  • String
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Rubber bands
  • Construction paper
  • Paints
  • Chopsticks

Begin by first cutting the cloth into a circular piece approximately four inches larger than the circumference of the coffee can.

DIY AmHistDrumProject1A

Spread glue around the outside edge of the cylindrical container.

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Fit the piece of cloth over the container.

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Fit the cloth evenly around the edges of the coffee can and secure with rubber bands.

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Let this dry for one hour, then trim around the edges to remove any extra cloth.

Paint the outside of the can with three coats of a base color, letting each coat dry at least half an hour before painting another.

DIY AmHistDrumProject6

When dry, decorate the drum by painting it, or adorning it by gluing on stars and stripes made of construction paper.

DIY AmHistDrumProject

Pick up the chopsticks to use as drumsticks and get ready to play!

DIY AmHistDrumProject-finished
















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