Making a Propane Tank Hank Drum

all-hank-drum-notes-laid-out

A [Hank Drum], as explained here, is a steel drum-type instrument made out of a propane tank. The name comes from the [Hang] or [Hang Drum] which is significantly more expensive than that $40 or so an empty propane tank costs. Of course, you’ll have to do some work to get it to play beautiful music, which can be seen in a time-lapse construction video after the break.

The details of how this instrument was made can be found here, including how to lay everything out and cut out eight relatively neat “tongues” for producing different tones. I used a Dremel tool, but this can also be done using saber saw for a curved top. This method is explained here with a template, but the results may not be as neat.

If you want to try this yourself, make sure to use an empty, unused propane tank. This is extremely important. For another entirely different homemade instrument, why not check out the [Whamola] that we made a year or so ago?

35 thoughts on “Making a Propane Tank Hank Drum

      1. This may shock and astound you, but musicality is subjective. If you think things like clean notes, being in tune, and being pleasant to listen to are universal measures of good music, then I have some long-haired Scandinavians to introduce you to.

  1. Doing this to a used cylinder is dangerous, but can be done, and I will explain how in order to prevent people doing it incorrectly and killing/maiming themselves.
    Basic principle: heat+fuel+oxygen = fire/explosion.
    Obviously, start with an empty tank.
    If space and time permit, leave the empty tank with its valve open away from people for a few days or weeks to fully offgas.
    The next thing is to fill the tank with water to address the heat and oxygen factors. Immerse it in a tank of water with the valve open and rock it around, letting the bubbles come out. You’re done when it weights 9kg more than it did to begin with.
    The water will stink from the methyl, or ethyl, mercaptan, the odorant used to make the LPG smell, and which is the liquid often left behind when most of the gas is gone, and is also flammable.
    Once the tank is full of water, a hand tool such as a hacksaw can be used to start a cut in the tank. The risk of ignition is low. Once through and a portal is made, the tank can be cleaned more thoroughly and as it is no longer a confined space, is less likely to behave like a grenade.
    Do this at your own risk… screwing it up can be lethal.

    1. Screw that!

      Revised steps:

      1) With the aid of a BBQ, finish off gas contained in an old, long expired 9kgs gas tank. Lamb and pork chops work well.
      2) Plug in angle grinder
      3) Cut away!
      4) ???
      5) Profit!

      1. Let me know how you go. Maybe learn morse code first so you can use your remaining stumps more efficiently afterwards! :-)

      2. That’s more or less the procedure I used, but with a “fill with soapy water then empty” as step 1a and no “profit” bit at the end. I made three of these for my kids’ school and welded them to a steel pole bolted to the ground. This does the sound quality no favours (it massively damps them) but the kids love beating the crap out of them and making lots of noise. I also made a series of bells out of old oxygen cylinders.

        I made the beaters/drumsticks from round metal bar and some disks cut from a plastic chopping board. Stack 3 or 4 of the disks on the end of the bar then gently melt them together so you end up with a laminated stack with a clear skin holding them together.

        All this “only use new, never-filled cylinders” is a load of nonsense just to cater for people with no sense.

    2. Explain again (in detail) how any remaining propane in a tank with it’s VALVE REMOVED can do anything but a small ignition fart? There is ZERO chance of explosion. Geesh I love whiny advice from people who failed high school chemistry.

      1. The ones who also studied physics know how easy it is for a poorly timed discharge of static to confound your cunning plan of valve removal ;-)

        1. Eh? So you can remove a metal valve from a metal tank without touching it and ensuring that both you and the tank are at exactly the same electrical potential? Please explain how you can do that, it’s a neat trick!

          1. 1. Ground tank
            2. Put one hand on tank
            3. Use other hand to remove valve

            Alternatively, just purge the tank with fucking water, what the hell is wrong with you?

  2. $40 for an empty propane tank? Maybe a new one, but around here, you can pick a used one up for free, because you have to pay to get rid of them.

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