Gourd Banjo II

Sanding the Neck

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I was going to sand the neck today to get rid of the tearouts and bring it to its final shape, but I decided to pull the gourd out of the pile first to see how it looks sitting along side the neck. This is what I found.


Yuk! That gray spot at the top is a wad of mold that is eating my gourd. My gourd is rotting! Here is a closeup.


Not only does it look discusting, it smells disgusting! It smells like rotting garbage. Ick! Now what?

I was at a loss, so I posted a message to the gourd list, thegourdreserve and asked how to save my rotting gourd. I received several answers, all of which involved soaking the gourd in water. So that is what I did. I do not have a container that is big enough to soak the entire gourd, so I did the best I could and filled it with water to soak.


To improve my chances of killing the mold I fetched my bottle of bleach.


I use this little bottle of bleach to sanitize my brewing equipment when I brew beer...but that is a different subject. The bottle has a dropper in it that allows me to dispense just a small amount of bleach. After filling the gourd with water, I put just a few drops of bleach into the water to help kill off the mold.


Then I stirred it up with a stick and let it sit for a few hours. While the gourd was soaking, I got out my banjo neck and some 80 grit sandpaper and started working on the neck. I just basically sanded it until most of the rough spots and gouges were gone.

I got tired of sanding after an hour or so and took a break. Later in the afternoon I came back to the gourd. I put the water in it at 10:30 in the morning and I came back to it at 3:30 in the afternoon, so it soaked for about 5 hours. Here it is. I am pointing to the mold spot with the stick.


I used the stick to stir up the stuff in the gourd to see how it looked. It was pretty slimy looking. So I dumped out the water and started scraping out the crud. It was disgusting.


I got out my fancy cabinet scraper (that thing keeps showing up!) and started scraping out the slime.


Eww! Eww! Yuk! Gag! This is disgusting. It not only looks disgusting, it smells disgusting! I scraped on the gourd for about an hour until I had all of the extra skin and slime out of it. The water had turned a lot of it to slime, but there was still a tough skin that was attached to parts of the gourd. I scraped until all of the skin was out. Did I mention that it was disgusting?


That looks better. The dark spot is where the lump of mold was when I started. I think all of the mold is gone. The dark stains on the outside are from the mold that grew on the gourd while it was drying in California, so it makes sense that the mold would leave a dark spot on the inside. I had the folks at Welburn clean the mold off before they sent the gourds here, but there is always a chance that it will come back. In this case, it did come back.... on the inside of the gourd.

When I initially cleaned out the gourd, I did not think that the extra skin and stuff that I left inside would be a problem. When I made my previous gourd banjo I just left it there and nothing bad happened. I guess that all of the gourd guts look like food from the standpoint of mold spores. Soaking and scraping the inside of the gourd might be something I do from the outset on the next one. It is clear that I need to pay more attention to cleaning out the gourd.

I spent an hour and a half sanding and an hour scraping out slime, so that makes 2 1/2 hours of work today.

Disgusting. Just plain disgusting. I hope I can get rid of the smell.

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Original post date July 6, 2008

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Last updated July 14, 2008