How to Build an Inexpensive Bodhrán Case from Partially Recycled Materials

by Mark Watson


After pricing several hard-shell cases and "gig bags" I decided to try and build my own case. I wanted a lightweight, but structurally sound case that would protect the drum, but not cost a lot of money. I decided upon corrugated cardboard because it looks similar to the reinforcing material used in the hulls of lightweight racing canoes. The basic design of the case is fashioned like a hat box: a round bottom section slightly larger than the drum and a lid that fits snuggly over the walls of the bottom section.



  1. Measure the bodhrán.
  2. Cut out the bottom, top, sides, and rim of lid.
  3. Sew the sides to the round bottom, and the rim to the lid.
  4. Reinforce the joints with fiberglass cloth and saturate the cardboard with resin.
  5. Sand, paint, decorate, pad.


1. Measure the diameter of the bodhrán and add about 2-3 cm (length A) to allow for padding. Then measure the depth of the drum and similarly add 2-3 cm (length B).

2. The hardest part about constructing the case is cutting a perfectly round piece of cardboard; the corrugations make it difficult to cut a circular arc. I took a scrap piece of 1 cm x 6 cm wood a little longer than the radius of the drum (A/2) and made a compass. To do this, find a small bolt longer than the total thickness of the cardboard and the piece of scrap wood. Then, drill a small hole in the sheet of cardboard where you want the center of the case to be. Drill the same sized hole in one end of the scrap wood. Make a slightly larger hole in the opposite end of the scrap wood where you want the outside edge of the case bottom to be. I pounded a box cutting blade into this hole to finish the compass. To make the bottom of the case, simply connect the compass to the cardboard with a small bolt, press the blade into the cardboard and spin. You now have a perfectly round bottom for your case. The top of the case must be slightly larger; drill another hole in the compass to make the top large enough to fit over the sides. (This will vary depending upon the thickness your particular cardboard.)

The sides of the case are made by cutting strips of cardboard B cm deep and long enough to go around the round bottom. Two or more pieces can be spliced together, but the longer the pieces, the stronger the case will be. The sides will be stronger if the corrugations run perpendicular the length of the side, so that it will bend without making a crease. Cut another piece in similar fashion about 3 cm wide to make the rim for the top of the case.

3. To put the case together, obtain a stout and sharp needle and some heavy thread in your favorite color. Sew the side to the bottom of the case with a simple whip stitch. (Get your favorite seamstress to help you.) Sew the top rim to the top of the case in the same fashion. Keep the hat-box shape in mind and you will have no trouble visualizing how it goes together.

4. To increase the structural rigidity of the case, I applied several coats of fiberglass resin to the cardboard. The resin soaks in well and gives the cardboard a dark, almost wood-like appearance, while making it very rigid. I applied a thin strip of fiberglass cloth to the inside joints for added strength.

5. To finish, sand off the high spots, paint with your favorite color, pad the inside of the case with fake fur, and decorate as desired. I glued two pieces of elastic to the inside of the lid with expoxy cement, one to hold a humidifier and the other my tipper and penny whistle. 



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Josh Mittleman

Last updated 30 Mar 1999