7. Cutting the drum
Before the drum is tempered, it should be cut to its proper pan length. The lower the pan is to be tuned, the longer the side of the drum should be. This is to give more resonance to the sound of the lower tuned pans. For common lengths of the different pans, see appendix A.
Before cutting, the side of the drum needs to be marked at the right length. The usual way to do this is to use a wooden stick with two nails driven into it at appropriate distance. While the drum laying sideways on the ground, the stick is pulled around it with one nail resting against the rim. Then the nail at the other end will make a scratch in the paint of the drum, see fig 7.1.
Fig. 7.1 Marking the drum for cutting.
The drum is cut at the mark in the following way: First, hammer on a chisel or an old screw-driver to make a starting hole in the side of the drum. Then use an electrical jigsaw to cut the drum. On Trinidad, this is often done with a cutlass, a cut-off machete, see fig. 7.2. The cutlass is hammered through the metal along the scratch, making a rough cut that later is trimmed with a pair of plate-shears. Last, a file is used to smooth the cut end of the skirt.
Fig. 7.2 Cutting the drum with a cutlass.