How to Use 5,000 Toilet Paper Tubes to Make a Bongo Drum
What do toilet paper tubes sound like when they violently slam against one another in the hands of an enthusiastic drummer? We're about to find out!
Toilet paper tubes make for a pretty amazing bongo drum and you can't fully understand how much this is true until you've completed this wonderful project. This is apparently a well-known secret amongst school bands and orchestras, but it seems many have forgotten the awesome capabilities of this instrument.
What You'll Need
In addition to 5,000 toilet paper tubes, you'll also need:
- A large trash bag (to keep them in when not in use)
- A table of some kind (preferably a strong one that reminds you of the father you wish you had)
- A floor that can get a little dinged up
- A pair of scissors (to help with cutting the tubes)
- A marker (to help with cutting the tubes)
- A drum key (to help with tightening the drum head)
- A drum head (the size of your choice—the bigger the better)
- A mallet (a hammer will do)
Now WTF Do I Do?
The entire process isn't too complicated and shouldn't take you too long to complete. You can just ask your mom to do this for you, but if you'd rather just do it yourself you can read this I guess:
- Cut the tubes into three equal lengths. You'll need ~5,000, so cut 15 x three.
- With your marker, label one side "A," one side "B," and one side "C." This will help you keep track of which sides you need when they're all mixed up in the trash bag.
- Mix up all the tubes and fold them into thirds so they're easier to fit inside the trash bag. This is why you labeled them "A," "B," and "C" because it will help you remember which side is which when you're putting them back in their proper place. They should all be folded in thirds, so an "A" side should be folded like an "A," a "B" like a "B," and a "C" like a "C." When you're done folding them up, put them inside the trash bag. You'll fold them out again to make the drum head later so don't worry about keeping everything neat and tidy just yet.
- Take out ~5,000 tubes and spread them out on a table. Then take out another ~5,000 tubes and spread them out on the floor right next to the table. You'll be making two bongo drums so leave space between piles for an eventual second one. Also—and this is important—you want to have plenty of space between each tube so that they have room to vibrate when you hit them. Yeah, they're toilet paper tubes, but they still need room to resonate. If they don't have any room to resonate they won't vibrate at all and will just make tapping sounds instead of bongo drumming sounds. This means that if you want to make two bongos (and who wouldn't?), you'll need enough space for another 15 x 3 = 45 x 3 = 135 tubes on both sides of where you're working so that each side has 45 tubes per pile for both sides of your bongo drum. You should also leave some space between each pile when you're making your second drum because it'll be slightly longer than the first one by default. If that sounds confusing just watch this video. It'll make sense very quickly when you see it in action.
- Once your piles of toilet paper tubes are made, grab one from each pile and label them "A1," "B1," and "C1." Do this until all 45 are labeled with their corresponding letter (that's 15 x 3 x 2 = 90 total). Now fold each one in half lengthwise so that they look like flutes instead of toilet paper tubes. Then fold those flutes in half again lengthwise so that there are four layers inside each one instead of eight (this is why we needed 45 per pile—so that we could use four layers in each tube). This is going to make your bongo drum heads very tightly wrapped around your drum shells so we want to make sure everything is as tight as possible without breaking anything. We also want as few air gaps as possible because these air gaps will cause unwanted sound when we hit our drums instead of beautiful music. We want beautiful music, not farty music (unless we're making farty music—but I digress). The point is that we want as little air gap as possible in our flutes so that they vibrate better when we hit them with our mallets and not make any noises other than those we intended to hear (read: awesome bongo drumming noises).
- Once all 90 flutes are labeled and folded up properly, grab an A1 (or whatever letter corresponds with whichever flute), an empty trash bag, and your scissors and get ready to put together your first bongo drum head! First grab your scissors—not your mallet—and cut open a hole in the trash bag where the flute will go through but not too big! If you cut it too big then there won't be enough friction between your flute and the trash bag and it won't vibrate properly—if at all! So just cut a hole slightly smaller than your flute because once it goes through we can stretch out its hole a little bit if necessary. Pull this trash bag over your flute until it's covered by several layers of plastic baggie material then push it through its hole until only half or less of its head remains outside of that hole like an oversized hat with too small a diameter for its wearer's head size. It should feel like there's practically no space between your flute's head and its partner in crime, the trash bag now stretched over it tightly like some sort of paunchy belly that's been squeezed into some formfitting overalls from last summer's wardrobe collection (and now looks like it might pop at any second). Now push down on that half or less of a flute left outside its plastic partner so that it bends down toward its partner inside said partner until all excess material has been eliminated from what was once excess but is now necessary for proper vibration without unwanted air gaps or unnecessary friction between your materials and their new home (a trash bag). You can now use the scissors to cut off any excess material if necessary but ideally there should be no excess material at all because too much excess material results in too much friction which results in too little vibration which means no awesome sound; no awesome sound means no bongo drums; no bongo drums means no fun; no fun means no life; therefore we must remove excess material from our flute heads at all costs.