First, a few banging basics: Only leatherworkers can make drums, and only leatherworkers can use them. Druids are at a slight disadvantage here, since drums are similar to potions in that they cannot be used in feral form (although they're fine in Moonkin and Tree of Life forms). Also like potions, drums do not work in arenas. Drums affect all party members within range but do not affect raid members not in the drummer's group.
The rest of the basics: Drums are consumables, not gear. Keep them in your inventory (hot-keyed, of course, so you can access them easily) and right-click to use. Drums have 30 charges and a one-second cast time (yes, it's interruptable). Their two-minute cooldown is shared between all types of drums you may have with you, so if you use one type and then switch, you'll still need to wait two minutes to use one again. They do not, however, share cooldowns with any other type of item, including potions.
Drums of War Requires Leatherworking (340) to make and Leatherworking (325) to use. The Drums of War increase attack power by 60 and spell damage by 30 on nearby party members for 30 seconds, with a 10-yard range. The attack power effect does stack with other AP items, such as trinkets. You can get this first drum from your friendly master leatherworking trainer.
Drums of Speed Requires Leatherworking (345) to make and Leatherworking (340) to use. The Drums of Speed increase movement speed of nearby party members by 15 percent for 30 seconds. The pattern is a world drop.
Drums of Restoration Requires Leatherworking (350) to both use and make. The Drums of Restoration restore 600 health and mana to nearby party members over 15 seconds. They do not, unfortunately, gain any benefit from +healing gear or buffs. The good news is, if you cast the effect every time it's available, the drums will provide on the order of 25 mana per 5 seconds per party member. The pattern is another dastardly world drop.
Drums of Battle Requires Leatherworking (365) to make and Leatherworking (350) to use. The Drums of Battle increase melee, ranged and spell haste ratings on nearby party members by 80 for 30 seconds. With recent patch increases to the effect of haste ratings, that works out to about 7.6 percent at level 70. More good news for this drum: it stacks with Bloodlust. The pattern requires exalted faction with The Sha'tar and is sold by Almaador in Shattrath City.
Drums of Panic Requires Leatherworking (370) to make and Leatherworking (350) to use. The Drums of Panic create "unearthly rhythms" that cause five enemies within 5 yards to flee in terror for 2 seconds. Too short in duration and too long in cast time to be much of a defensive spell, these drums are still effective for interrupting others' spells, decloaking a stealthed player or mob and so forth. It's basically a non-Tauren War Stomp. The pattern requires exalted faction with the Keepers of Time and is sold by Alurmi in the Caverns of Time.
Drumming up skill points
One last – and some say best (and still others would say only) – point about drums: they're great for skillups. Everyone has their own take on which ones are worth the mats and which aren't, but skillups are what's on everyone's minds in the comments sections of drum entries at places like wowhead.com. If you're a leatherworking who's straggling through the last big stretch of points, take some time to peruse the comments and materials lists for the various drums. You might just drum up a few skill points!
Lisa Poisso is a magazine writer, when she's not wondering if banging on a Drum of Speed would bring back some nostalgia for her Selo's Drums of the March from EQ.