Mounting The Skin - Method Two

This method of mounting the skin is really a continuation of "Making The Rim - Method Two" because it's the way that guy I met mounts 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! He also cut his ash plank thinner than the oak plank I used. So, I imagine that its thickness was about 1/6th to 1/5th of an inch. He had the ends tapered so that they would make a scarf joint when brought together.

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 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. The string should be pulled tightly enough to ensure the skin is held on the rim without any slack.

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 #1, 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. After the skin is dry, undo the strings and remove them. The skin will retain the shape that it took when it dried on the rim and can be pulled off just like a bottle cap.

4. Apply glue to the outer top of the rim and then push the skin back on. Make sure that the skin is on tightly. Let the glue dry.

(Note: There might be some difficulty in removing the skin and putting it back on. I should stress that I've never actually witnessed this being done. It should be possible to omit the removal of the skin and the application of glue (steps 3 & 4) and proceed straight to step 5.)

5. You can now fasten the skin onto the rim with a row of tacks placed about an 3/4ths of an inch down from the top of the drum. A strip of leather can be used as a buffer between the skin and the tack heads. Any extra skin that extends below the leather strip can be cut away carefully with a razor blade. You might want to finish the wood with stain or varnish, but other than this the bodhran is complete .

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