I recently met another person who had made his own bodhran. The method he used was quite different than mine, and in some ways I found quite novel. He used hardly any large equipment and his process was simpler. Plus, it hardly cost him anything to make it (about $20 Canadian)! I should add that he's a pretty accomplished leather worker, tanner, and boat builder - skills which are handy when making a bodhran. The drawback is the use of large quantities of boiling water, which is more inconvenient and dangerous. Here's the process as he related it to me:
1. The materials he used were: dowels for a cross-beam, a plank of ash for the rim (he claims that ash is the easiest wood to bend), tacks, wood epoxy and a thin strip of leather the same length as the plank He planed his ash plank thinner than the oak plank I used. So, I imagine that its thickness was about 3/8ths of an inch at most. He had the ends tapered so that they would make a scarf joint when brought together.
2. Instead of using a steam-box, he filled several large metal stew pots with water and set them to boil. He would continuously pour boiling water over the plank in preparation for, and during, the bending process, using a ladle or a small pot. You can understand why his plank had to be so thin! This method is not as effective as the steam-box described in method one, although it is simpler.
3. The next step is a little tricky to describe. Being an avid canoeist, this person had several canoe securing 'straps'. These straps are made of thick nylon, leather or canvass. The ends of the strap can be attached to a clip which can be cranked to make the loop smaller and smaller. (Note: I am told that similar straps are available from any good woodworking shop. They are called 'band clamps', are 1 inch wide and 15 feet long, and few of them can be purchased for less than ten dollars.)
4. Using his hands and feet, he bent the ash plank into a large 'C'. Then he put this 'C' into the loop formed by the band clamp.
5. While keeping the wood hot with boiling water, he began tightening the crank on the band clamp, thereby making the loop smaller. This brought the two ends of the 'C' together.
6. Once the two tapered ends came together so that the plank forms an 'O', he applied wood epoxy to their inner surfaces and clamped them against each other.
7. After letting the glue dry for a few days, the band clamps were loosened and removed. The rim should haved stayed together and could now be sanded down. The cross-beams could then be added and skin mounted on the rim according to his method.
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