For the crosspieces I use two lathe turned sticks which are lap jointed in the center. Some musicians prefer only one cross bar, others prefer a "Y" shaped piece, others no crosspieces at all. With my style the musician can wrap one or two fingers around the crosspieces in the center and control the sound of the drum by pressing the heel of the hand against the skin. Alternatively the player may hold the entire hand under the crosspiece while pressing the skin with the fingers at any point on the head.

To build the crosspiece two ¾" x ¾" x 17" pieces of hardwood are cut out on the bandsaw. The pieces are turned on the lathe to the dimensions shown (diagram 4) leaving a ¾" x ¾" block in the center. While holding the crosspiece in a vice, exactly ½ of the wood is removed from the center blocks with a backsaw and a chisel. The two turned pieces are glued and joined in the center. When the glue is dry the corners of the center block are trimmed off with a chisel and the center is finished with sandpaper to 400X.

To attach the crosspieces to the rim their ends are first sanded on a disc sander until the crosspiece fits snugly inside the rim. The crosspieces are moved to the desired location inside the rim (between one and 2 ½" from the drumhead edge depending on the preference of the musician). The edges of the crosspieces are lightly traced on the rim and the centers of the tracings drilled with a 1/8" bit from the inside of the rim. Next, the crosspiece is placed back in the rim in its exact original location and holes are drilled from the outside of the rim through the holes and into the crosspiece ends. Holes are counter sunk on the outside of the rim and the crosspiece anchored to the rim with wood screws (size 1 ¼ x 6). A contrasting wood is inlayed in the holes above the screw head. Many bodhrans are built with round headed screws anchoring the crosspieces, some have metal coins or, fancier yet, silver Celtic knotwork covering the holes.

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Constructing the Rim

Attaching the Goatskin Head

About Beaters