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Lee Bodhran Building

From bowiki

Drum And Writeup by Lee Allan, Australia


  • Diameter is 13"
  • Rim depth is 4"
  • Head is kangaroo

Given this is my first attempt, I have made this one nontunable, however I did add a "fixed" internal ring to (a) house the tacks and (b) to allow for a raised schamfer for the skin. This is the same principal as a tunable "ring" only that it is fixed. I think it helps in reducing the "zingy buzz" a little more and I have put some tape around the drum to reduce the vibration as well.

For construction I used 1.5mm ply and a home made " jig" i fashioned from an old bin (see photos). I attached timber to the outside of the bin so too increase the diameter and figured 13" would hopefully be lucky enough. The glue I used was of a boat builders grade and was very adhesive - best to follow the instructions and wear gloves (it's not good on the bare skin!). I secured each outer layer (3 in total) with adjustable "strap clamps". It worked quite well with each layer adhering to the other and no drummy spots. The circumference is almost perfect, just a couple of wee flat spots.

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As for the skin, and as everyone knows, this is the "nuts and guts" of a drum, I used kangaroo. That decision was prettty much a given as I'm here in Australia and the poor old roo is considered a pest, moreso at the moment due to the drought and consequently are quite readily available.


I was having a fair bit of trouble removing the remaining fat and tissue from the inner side of the skin. When I was in Ireland last month I paid a visit to Seamus O'Kane and he gave me a couple of tips for this process (he's a real gentleman). I'm quite pleased with the end result, at least the skin does not smell like "outback roadkill". I mananged to get the skin relatively thin and even over the whole area and it is very responsive and gives lovely top end "pops". With some playing I'm pretty sure it will get better. As it is non-tunable, when it's hot and dry the skin responds by getting tight, however all it needs is a wipe with a lightly dampened dish cloth and the skin loosens enough to give substantially more variance. Putting the skin to the frame is not as easy as I thought, hence the rather untidy tackline, but it does the job and holds the skin to the rim nicely.


I'm going to attempt a tunable drum next time. I'm having trouble finding appropriate materials for the tensioners/ tuning blocks so if anyone has any suggestions please let me know. I was hoping to find some type of plastic as opposed to brass/ metal, so if anyone has an idea that they think may work please drop me a line. Also, if anyone has some tips/ advice on skin softening methods etc, it would be great to hear of also.

All in all I'm quite pleased with the end result. I have given this drum to my 5 year old daughter Niamh, so now both she and I can annoy the jaxie out of the boss in the house - revenge is sweet, but payback's are double - I'll keep you posted.

I have attached some photos, so if you could post them for me it would be appreciated. Ias you well know, it's very pleasing to make something and find at the end it actually works. I'm hoping my next one will be even better. Keep up the great work with bodojo and the academy!


Cheers Lee


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