Different Methods for Making the Shells of Handpans

The handpan drums typically have a dome-like design and are made from different types of shells.

However, while making the handpans, it all starts with a flat sheet. These sheets are then transformed to give the desired shape.

The makers usually use different methods to create these shells and give the shape, such as:

  • Spun or rolled
  • Hand sunk
  • Deep Drawn and

Each of these methods is different by its virtue.

If you want to know how your handpan drum is made, this is the right place. In this article, you will learn about the different methods to make handpan shells.

Hand Sunk

The hand-sunk shells typically refer to striking the sheet a thousand times (do not consider the number literally) with an air or pneumatic hammer. This method typically does not need any expensive or sophisticated tool.

This makes only a single half-shell. This means the maker puts a lot of muscle and time into it. However, this method is preferable since it is more realistic, keeping with the production of the original steelpan.

Most importantly, these shells give a unique look to the handpans that emit more unique sounds.

Spun or Rolled

In this method, the metal sheet is placed on a lathe that spins around. While it spins, a unique tool known as a buck is held in the middle of the sheet. It is slowly moved outside, which creates the shell.

Rolled shells are almost identical, but the machine spins at different RPMs. The technique of holding the shell as it forms is also different.

Deep Drawn

The maker uses a customized mold to make the handpans in this specific method. These molds are already in the shape of a shell. The rings on the surface are fitted later on using a deep drawing press. Typically used in large industries, it gives the necessary look and shape in just a few seconds.

The most significant advantage of this method is that it ensures an even thickness all over and better build quality.

This is because additional material, irrespective of its type, flows in through the rings from the disc. It stretches the material to give the shell the proper shape.


Just as the name signifies, shells are created for handpans by using water pressure. This is an excellent technique, and the drums created by this method are of a particular type.

It is pretty similar to a deep drawing of steel, but the only difference is that the thickness is not equal all over. It depends on the water pressure that every part of the surface receives.

Apart from that, the material is also stretched a bit more compared to the deep drawing technique of creating shells.


The handpan drums produce a warm and mystic sound when you play them. However, it takes a lot of time and precision to create its shell, the elementary component of it. Now you know why these drums are so unique and expensive.