Talking Shop with David Raouf

Carpenter, Metal Worker, Welder, Electrician, Painter, these are just a few of the skills used to describe David Raouf, aka “rdavidr”. David’s YouTube channel presents DIY projects for everything from building drums to modifying cymbals. I first became aware of David’s work after doing a web search. I have a drum set that was wrapped in a custom wrap that I was anticipating selling. I was immediately taken by his videos and ended up binging through a dozen or so episodes. Over the next few days I spent hours on You Tube and watched them all. David cut down shells to build his own drums, repaired and rescued others, cut holes in cymbals, rebuilt his studio, gave tips for buying used equipment and shared drum hacks that anyone could do.

He is a natural on camera and his videos are professional-quality. David has a workshop that any craftsman would be envious of. That enables him to produce a wide variety of projects requiring a wide variety of tools. His home studio is just as nice and he is not only a craftsman, but a recording drummer and producer. David was kind enough to take some time between projects to answer a few questions.

MA: How did you develop your diverse skillset to accomplish all of these projects?

DR: I have always been into working with my hands. Whether it was playing with Legos as a kid or attempting to build model sets as a teenager I enjoyed the physical process of making. Right out of high school I started to watch woodworking videos on YouTube but never could justify buying expensive tools that I would only use on occasion. I had some basic tools from my parents, but nothing fancy. Fast forward some and I found a used table saw on Craigslist for cheap and thought, “Screw it, it’s only $50.” After learning how much easier it is to do a job with the right tools I was dead set on filling up my mom’s garage with as many tools as I could.

I guess that’s a long, vague way of saying that I learned as I went. For example, I wanted to build a cowbell but I didn’t have a welder. Instead of throwing the idea out, I went and bought a cheap used welder and learned myself. No matter how much I think I know about a subject, read up on that subject, or watch somebody else explain that subject, I found that I learn the best by doing it myself. Even if that means messing up along the way because it’s in those screws up that you truly learn.

MA: What project has been the most challenging for you?

DR: To be honest, I couldn’t tell you haha. Sure each project presents its own set of challenges, but it’s how I overcome those that makes it fun for me. There’s nothing better than the feeling of coming up with a clever solution to a complex problem. Though, with that being said, I will think through a project before I start filming. If I encounter a problem it may be months before I find the answer. And it’s those “light bulb moments” that motivate me to start on that project/video.

When thinking back to some of the bigger projects on my channel I remember how hard it was for me to start on them. Like when I built the drum shelves in my studio or recently when I built my studio desk. I dragged ass on those projects because I knew I would lose motivation halfway through and want to move on to something else. So I guess you could say those were the most challenging.

MA: Do you feel a great sense of pride in the work that you do?

DR: Typically yes, more so in the early days than now. Going back to what I said before about finding clever solutions for complex problems, those are the times I feel most proud. If I’m just doing something simple or a task I’ve done before a million times the feeling definitely diminishes. It turns into a job at that point. However, if I find a more efficient way to do that job or an interesting way to incorporate unique materials then the pride level grows.

Nowadays, when a project is all said and done I’ll stand back and think about how cool the concept is, or how sweet it looks, or how I saved money making it myself. After a few days I seem to not care about it since I’ve moved onto the next thing. That drum that I refinished and brought back to life is now just another instrument and the desk I spend forever designing and thinking through every single detail is now just another piece of furniture.

MA: Why do you think your YouTube channel is so popular?

DR: That’s tough to say… As niche as my channel is, I try to make it entertaining to watch while still teaching how to do whatever it is I’m doing. Essentially blending education with entertainment. Past that, there are so many copy/paste channels out there that do the same thing as everyone else. When I was thinking about concepts for my channel I didn’t want to be another drum cover channel or a guy that offers lessons. There are so many others that are better at that than me. Plus, it’s a flooded market that’s hard to stand out in. I wanted my channel to be something fresh that has never been done before. Apparently, it’s so niche that, still, no one else makes the same type of content. Therefore, everyone is forced to watch me. Ha!

For more information, visit David online at:

https://www.youtube.com/user/rdavidr

https://www.instagram.com/davidraouf/

https://www.facebook.com/therdavidr

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