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BLAMINACK - HOW TO BUILD A KETE HAND DRUM - PART 13

This is also time to check the sizing of the flesh ring. With the tensioning rods in place you will likely find that the ring will not fit well. Remember that the rings are slightly oblong. Turn it inside the rods to see if there is a place that it will fit nicely. If not, now is the time to correct it. It must go down flat against the retaining ring.

This is the time to paint the metal parts of the drum. If you can, powder coating is extremely nice. I have done this in the past and it makes a very professional looking drum. I didn’t have this option available for this tutorial, so we will be painting the parts with black paint. I prefer a paint that leaves a shiny “hammered” looking finish. The texture hides some of the imperfections a little.

After this we start working with the goatskin.

When the goatskin comes it is dried and stiff. In order to get it ready to mount it needs to be soaked and shaved. I soak them for several hours in water. I have recently started adding bleach to help sanitize it a bit. When you get a hairy goatskin is has a funky smell. LOL It smells like a goat! What else would you expect? After it has soaked I wash it a bit to remove any sand or dirt from hair… I have received them in various states of cleanness.

After the soaking and washing it is now time to shave the goatskin. Much stress and concern is made over this step, but in truth it is fairly simple. The shaving of the hide can be done before or after mounting the drumhead. I prefer before, because I do not like to leave the hair on the drum. I have seen Kete drums made this way but most are not. Most Djembe drums are made with the hair still on. Not my style! But if you want to it is still simple. Just put these steps in a different order.

To shave the skin I prepare 4-5 Bic razors by breaking off the blade guard with pliers and I sand the corners, so that there are no harsh points that could gouge the hide. Then I lay the hide across a very flat surface. It cannot have bumps underneath because these may cause you to accidentally cut the hide and ruin it for the purpose of a drumhead. It must be as flat as possible. Skins for drums are too hard to come by to be wasted, so carefully clear the area underneath.

Then with smooth strokes with the handle parallel with the hide begin to cut through hair down to the skin. Once there, you be amazed at how smoothly the hair comes off. I use the Flesh ring as a guide for how much I need to shave. I leave about 6 inches or shaved hide around the outside of the ring as such…

I shaved this much area in about 5-10 minutes. Now this doesn’t leave the hide perfectly cleanly shaved. The hair roots are still there and will need to be dealt with later after the skin has dried on the drum. Now with scissors I cut the hide into a rough circle remembering to leave plenty of extra room…

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