Building a cool Drum Riser


Junior Member

This spring my 15-year-old son Ben, joined teen power pop/rock band One Step Away as their new drummer. Because the group has an active front line that uses their own individual 6" -8" stage platforms during their shows, in preparation for summer tour gigs my son was urged to buy a drum riser of his own (the drummers hard enough to see sitting down, let alone behind some risers for the front guys!).

Some quick Internet shopping demonstrated that I'd need to spend $600 to $1000 to get a pre-made version, and that was only 6" to 12" high. The previous drummer had a double 4'x8' plywood/stud framed riser that needed a pickup to transport, multiple crew to move and legs to be bolted on. I knew that wasn't for us. Minivans (and now a trailer) are our modes of transport, so I wanted something that would fit, and two people could handle. I was also concerned that fire codes at some venues might frown on wood, so I wanted non-combustible, but what material. I searched the forums and saw the folding cot supports, egg crates and custom welded projects but couldn't decide. Then one day I saw some commercial hollow metal doors slated for disposal and I had my scheme.

Commercial doors are usually 3'x7'-0", but other sizes are available. A pair of these resulted in a 7' x 6' riser which is plenty for the set with two floor toms, room for a wedge monitor next to the hi-hat and all the drum mic stands. This even gives the guitarist a spot to jump up onto!


I was able to get two different swing doors and use two pairs removable pin hinges to connect them on stage. I drilled a hole through the pins and wired them to each door to avoid (delay?) the inevitable lost parts.

On top of the doors I glued some level loop commercial carpet and wrapped it around the edges to cushion/protect/and finish the door edges. I used a carpet transition strip to terminate the carpet on the edges and screws with washers to anchor it on the long sides.

But what to use to support this? I wanted stable, simple and of course "cost effective" - the kid's got both a Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute and a Tour Custom kit: somethings gotta give! Reading about the old milk crate supports and the modern nesting plastic system one defunct (I think) drum riser manufacturer offered, I came up with 5-gallon buckets. About $2.50 at Home Depot, available anywhere for replacements and very strong in direct compression: I've seen some big ole construction guys perched on these things.


I attached 5-gallon lids to the underside of the doors with self-tapping screws. I needed to cut plywood spacers to fit under the lid, since the lip of the lid holds the top surface 1/2" away, which I then screwed threw into the door.



At many venues the sound guys all start eyeing these buckets suspiciously, until they see how quickly the riser goes together at which point they start telling me they love that riser (and a few have said "I thought you were going to do a Stomp routine!")! Since their business is always framed by set-up/breakdown, they really appreciate the speed.

To do set up we bring in the 12 buckets in one stack. Set up at least 4 buckets in a rectangle. Bring in the first door, lay it down carpet side down. Snap on the six buckets. Flip it over. Bring in second door and put on top. Align and pin hinges. Snap on six remaining buckets. Swing this side down and ready for drums.

I needed a skirt around the perimeter to hide the orange homer buckets, but I didn't want a frou-frou fabric skirt, too theatre, not rock. So I made mine from carpet. I cut a strip about 16" hight for a friction fit between the floor and the underside of the riser. Since the carpet wraps under the riser, I get a nice non-slip interface. (I used seam-seal adhesive to reduce pulling on the cut carpet edges.)

To install I roll out the 24' long x 16" carpet skirt and tip it up around the buckets. Though not fully necessary, I use a clamp in the rear to join the two ends, but should really make a bungee cord corset someday. Sometimes we push the carpet in between the buckets to give the base an undulating pattern.


I through bolted a few handles to the underside of each riser to make carrying/pullling out of trailer easier. Also a few D rings to lash stored items in the trailer to.

So how's it work? Great. Solid as a rock. Jump? No problem. No vibration, no splinters. One door is a heavier gauge and as a result, "heavier." The drum throne sits on that.


Except for the doors, all the materials were bought at Home Depot.

Here's a recent shot: looks like its part of the stage at Hard Rock.


I recently made a series of lower, 8" high buckets (and a smaller carpet skirt) for smaller stages. So far we haven't used them, but someday - can't hide the most interesting part of the band (unbiased drummer parent opinion!). Now I can't watch a band without an elevated drummer without thinking how subsidiary the drummer looks. Once, on a small, uneven, unstable outdoor stage platform, we even used the top with out the buckets for a 3" rise, even that was a big improvement.

Last edited:


Silver Member
beautiful. coolest (portable) drum riser i have seen in a long time. your design w/ the buckets & shipping w/ bucket lids snapped off is genius. i bet it is pretty light full set-up vs. metal or wooden legs, yes ?


Senior Member
This is DIY masterpiece!!! I love it. What thrills me is I have a dozen of these plastic buckets and lids. Now for some doors, carpet, hinges....


Man... You've answered one of my biggest drumming questions of all time... The other is how to make a cost effective/easy to transport drumshield.

Thank you so much, this idea is absolutely brilliant.

Reasons why it is so:

1) Cost effective
2) Relatively light and easy to transport
3) Materials are easily obtainable
4) Easy to construct, doesn't require one to be a mechanical engineer to do so

Thank you once again for sharing this idea with us man!


Junior Member

Thanks for the positive responses! Hope some of you find it a workable solution. (I've certainly learned a lot from posts on this forum!)

Skulmoski - your right, my son (and the whole band) is very lucky. Both to have parental support and to have found four kids that are highly skilled musically, write and arrange their own songs and also get along and do well in school and sports. I'm not a musician myself, bur really enjoy helping with the tech issues, marketing, tour planning and yes, even schlepping gear (if it is packed smartly!).

Double G - regarding the weight: pretty light. Two people (aged 15 to 65 so far) carry the doors one at a time, maybe 50-60 pounds (24 - 29 kg?) each. I'd like lighter door panels, but these were free and durable. The exterior door is at least 10 lbs (4 kg) heavier.

I've used a skateboard to roll them around one at a time in my garage. I thought about putting wheels on one and using it as a giant cart to get the drum gear into the Six Flags amusement park shows the boys did a bunch of this year. When the buckets are on the wheels would be off the ground.

The plastic bucket bottoms slide easily if you want to set the drumset off to one side if you have a multi-band event and then slide it or have two to four people pick it up and move it.

These doors were being discarded because they had some dings in them that would take auto body to fix and some oversize door hardware holes that I filed with some scrap wood. No damage that is visible when covered with carpet. You might be able to find at building renovations, scrap yards, etc. New the door slabs are about $120 probably in the lighter gauge steel material. Aluminum would be neat and lighter if available.

3.5 and 4 gallon buckets area also available that are 3" to 5" lower. They fit the same lid type. These weren't available empty in the big box home improvement stores though (unless they were full of driveway coating!). I found them at bucket suppliers online, but didn't buy them.

Many restaurants and commisaries discard buckets like this all the time. Drywall compound is also a common item. Be careful with buckets from industrial chemicals and cleaners, who knows how clean they are.

If the buckets are scratched or have paint or drywall residue on them, they don't come unstacked very easily - very frustrating. Shiny new buckets work great!

The carpet skirt rolls up and one of the buckets!

The same idea would probably work with lidded,rectangular storage tubs, but they usually have more rounded edges that aren't quite as rigid in compression. And of course, if you have a problem, you can'r replace a storage tub as easily as a 5 gallon bucket! (Note that not all lid/buckets fit the same. Most are the same diameter, but the mating lip on the bucket edge doesn't always "snap" into a different brand of lid.

I considered leaving the door hardware holes (about 2.5" dia) open so mic cables could be routed through. But there are so many cables around heading in different directions, i would slow down set up a bit.

I was going to put a clip on tether to attach to the base of the drum throne to keep it (and my son) from going overboard. So far it hasn't been a problem, but I make sure there's nothing sharp back there for him to fall on it it does happen (and usually but a few drum bags to cushion)!



Great job, love it.. I may try this myself using wooden doors.. could you expand a little on the skirt part though.. Not sure how the top of the skirt does not fall over and expose the buckets when playing. The hard rock pic looks like the skirt has been bolted on to a 2x4 or something?

Thanks again great job


Silver Member
Not sure which is awesomer; the riser or your support.

I'm gonna go with the support. I can only imagine what this means to your son. Be proud.


Junior Member
Love it! So resourceful. It's like a modern day rendition of the old milk crates like back in the 60's & 70's.

Just a suggestion/idea... as I am in the process of building a drum riser for my drummer I have played around with the idea of adding some lights underneath the riser.

You could fabricate a front face and use those florescent light panels that are semi transparent, etc. to disperse some light by using a couple of par38/64's underneath the riser.

Hope this makes some sense. Just a thought. This is the direction we are heading and it might add a little freshness every now and then.

Thanks for the post. Great stuff!


Junior Member
Wow...This is great! I built mine today only out of OSB wood and a 2x4 frame underneith to make the edges sturdy and mount the hinges to...It turned out great! I used the reusable (black lids) from home depot since they seemed to snap in place better. Do you ever have any issues of the buckets falling out of the orange lids? I tried to get them to snap on in the store and they seemed to not "snap" in and came off pretty easily. Either way...If the black ones give me problems I'll try the orange lids. Thank you very much for this JUST fits in my vehicle and I can't wait to use it this upcoming weekend...I'm sure it will look sweet! Also to add...I found led strips on ebay for a fairly low price (32 bucks from hong kong) that have a a remote with many functions to add to the perimeter of the riser so that should be sweet all I need to do is throw a smoke machine underneith it!! haha. I did spend 75 bucks on a 12x8 sheet of carpet...that jacked up the price...but I will throw wheels on mine tomorrow so it slides in and out of my jeep easily. The only bad thing is, the 2 pieces are connected permanently (i missed reading that part) so it's a little heavier but nothing a group of friends can't tackle! lol. Thanks again good buddy!


Platinum Member
What GREAT inventiveness!

...when he plays without amplification, what are the sound charactaristics?


Gold Member
I built mine out of 1/2" plywood, 2 sections 3'x6' and 8"deep with 3 ribs evenly spaced apart in each section, foam back carpet on the top (which leaves dents where all the feet and pedals go) and a piano hinge to connect them together, I notched out the ribs to hold all my stands at full length with just the tri pod legs folded in and bungee cord them in place, after all my hardware is in,(4 cymbal stands, hi hat stand, pedals, mic stand, & snare stand) it folds in half, locks together and has 2 handles on each end and wheels so it can roll. Been using it now for over 10 years. I dont have a pic of it full or folded but you can see it under the kit and see where the handles and wheels are and where the seam goes under the bass drum and throne to get an idea.

Pic taken in 2003

Pic taken in 2011
Last edited:


Platinum Member
Nice idea...riser as equipment cases...

Gotta market that one!

is it already done?...havent researched...


Senior Member
$200 @ Lowes

(10)3.5 gallon buckets and lids (debating on putting lights in them),1 sheet of 3/4" plywood,(5) 2x2s, (6) Squeeze Clamps, Hinges, Carpet, Screws, Etc.......and 8 hours of cutting and assembly.

It folds up into 3 sections, and is 24"'x 32"x 16" when stacked in my trunk. I can fit the riser, the 10 buckets, and all my rack hardware in the trunk of my car.

SOLID AS A ROCK! No bounce, no shake!



Last edited:


Gold Member
Finally got the pics of it being loaded and folded for transport, three more mic stands and 2 music stands still to go in it but you get the idea.


Last edited: