Mounting the Skin - Method Two

This method of mounting the bodhran skin is really a continuation of "Making The Rim - Method Two" because it's the way the guy I mention in that section mounted his skins.

He gets his raw, un-cured, goatskins from a local slaughterhouse for only five dollars! In fact, the people there said that they had no use for goatskin and they would give him subsequent ones for free!

1. Prepare the skin for mounting using the process described in "Mounting the Skin - Method One". Place the wet skin over the rim and without letting it sag (no slack) tie the skin on the rim in the fashion of a Native North American drum. This tying process takes some describing. Many small lengths of string are placed through holes punched all along the edge of the skin and tied to a ring which 'floats' in the centre of the bottom of the drum. Alternatively, one long string can be woven in and out of the holes in the skin and through the ring. This 'floating' ring can be made of almost anything, including a metal ring from a jam jar lid or a very large washer. The string should be pulled tightly enough to ensure the skin is held on the rim without drooping...

method of mounting skin with floating ring and string

...and pens or sticks can be used in tourniquet style to tighten the strings and take up any slack or uneven-ness.(with a piece of tape wrapped around them to hold them in place).

rotate stick to tighten slack string and skin

2. Leave the skin to dry. As the drying process occurs, the skin will shrink and become tight on the rim. By using the 'ring' technique instead of the 'tack' technique mentioned in Method One, provision is made for differential shrinkage throughout the skin. The ring moves around as different areas of the skin shrink before other areas, ensuring that the tension on the completed drum is even. Plus (and this is a big bonus), if you find that your skin is too loose or to tight after it dries, you can easily take it off, soak it and try again with different string tension until you get it right!

3. At his point, the fellow who described this method to me would remove the whole skin from the rim "like a bottle cap", apply glue to the rim, and re-mount the skin. He would then let the glue dry. I have no idea how he did this or exactly why. In my experience a dry skin is far to tight to remove. Perhaps he moistened the skin enough to loosen it, but not enough to destroy the "bottle-cap" shape. Anyway, in my experience, glue is not necessary in making a bodhran, and can cause problems if you ever want to remove the skin later. I would suggest skipping this step and proceeding straight to step 4.

4. After the skin is dry, you can fasten it onto the rim with a row of upholstery tacks placed about an an inch down from the top of the drum. A strip of leather or veneer can be used as a buffer between the skin and the tack heads (if you use veneer, pre-bore small holes in it so the tacks won't split it).

5. After the tacks are all secure, undo the strings from the skin and remove them. Any extra skin that extends below the leather or veneer strip can be cut away carefully with a razor blade. The bodhran is complete .

detail showing veneer band and tacks on bodhran rim


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