Gourd Banjo III

Trimming the Skin

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A week has gone by since my fiasco with the skin head. The skin has dried out and is rigid again. It seemed to stay on the gourd OK, so maybe this will work out. Here is the mess.


It really is the glue that keeps the head on the banjo and not the tacks. Here is an example which demonstrates that. A few years ago I bought a tambourine with a natural skin head on it. After a few dry New England winters, here is what happened to it.


Because they did not glue the head down, it has torn away from the tacks. Here is a closeup.


You can see that the tacks are still in place, but the skin has pulled itself completely free. The forces are strong when the skin dries out, even stronger than the skin itself.

Just to be absolutely clear, I did not stretch the tambourine head. That is the way it was done at whatever factory made it. I might fix it later, but right now I don't have a spare skin that size. I could also probably buy a new tambourine for the price of a replacement skin, but then a new one would eventually fail like this anyway.

Getting back to the head that I did stretch, first thing was to take off the rubber bands to see what kind of damage I had done to the head.

Rubber bands

It actually did not look too bad except for one place that was folded over.


There wasn't enough skin left when I stretched it to make sure that the edge was pulled down tight. There's nothing to be done for it now. It looks like it won't be a structural problem.

I trimmed the extra skin off using my shop knife, being careful with the knife so as not to puncture the head.


Here is the result of the trimming. There isn't a whole lot of extra material there.


I took the gourd out to the shop to see what it looks like with the neck. Speaking of the neck, here is a photo of it after about 7 coats of finish.


I hope you can see in the photo why I wanted to keep that piece of wood for the finger board. Way back in the early Spring I discovered that it had warped and I had to straighten it. I did not want to throw it out because I thought it was a special piece of wood. The figure has come out rather nice. I'm glad I was able to save it. I put the neck through the gourd to see what this thing will look like all together.

All Together

Hey! This is starting to look like a banjo!

I put some finish on the gourd to protect it and darken it a bit. Here is the gourd before the first coat of oil.


And here it is after.


I only spent about 1 hour on this today and then I went out to mow the lawn and clean the Spring oak flowers out of the gutters. Yeah, I know. Spring? It's August, and the oak flowers have turned to mud. But I am making great progress on my banjo.

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Original post date August 10, 2009

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Last updated August 10, 2009