W. & S. Butcher


Tips from Old Millrat - James D. Thompson


Thunder Gourd

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The first thing you need to do with a new gourd is clean the outside. This can be done with scouring pads and water, but I use a power wire wheel at my bench grinder. Any small damage will be disguised by decoration later on. You need a perfectly flat surface to glue the membrane onto.

I found that the easiest way to get a straight flat surface is to glue the gourd to a board, then slice it on the bandsaw. Then you glue down a sheet of 100 grit sandpaper and rub the bandsawed edge until you remove the teeth marks. Once it is perfectly flat you can secure the membrane with CA glue. I like medium thick CA for this.

Cutting the bottom off the gourd on my band saw leaves a flat bottom surface to glue the membrane to. I tried using a sabre saw but the surface was not nearly flat, and it was a lot of work trying to sand it flat.

This is what you see when the gourd is opened up. A lot of dried tissue and seeds are inside, and they must all be cleaned out. I am told that this stuff is not good for your respiratory system.

I did not wear a mask, and I am now coughing as a result. Wear a mask or a respirator.

I made several cleaning tools out of box end wrenches. I ground the inside using a rotary stone, then ground the outside to a knife edge on my grinding wheel.

Then I sharpened it just like I would sharpen a knife. There are several different tools for sale made for the express purpose of cleaning gourds. I bought them all, and didn't like any of them. They are all rotary tools, like wire brushes or stones on a ball. They all leave a crappy surface.

Here I have used my box end tool to scrape the inside stuff off the gourd.

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Winsted Tools

D. R. Barton


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