Here at O'Connors Irish Crafts one of our favourite wood materials for our Irish Bodhran tippers is Dartmoor Gorse. This is due to the beautiful markings of Gorse Bush wood.
The first issue with gorse is finding a piece of wood long enough and straight enough from which to make a Tipper. Gorse tends to grow in a very random twist and turn style with very few straight lines. Once the gorse is found then you have the spikes to contend with which are prolific when trying to access the main stem or branch.
Once cut the wood needs to be seasoned which can take months or even years. This ensures the sap and natural moisture of the wood is dried to help prevent splitting and cracking of the wood.
Gorse branches do not always grow in a circular shape but often have large grooves running along the length, this can mean that a 2 inch diameter piece of gorse will only have a 1 inch workable core.
Once the piece is seasond we look at the wood and consider what shape of Irish Bodhran Tipper stick we would like to make or what the wood dictates due to markings grooves bends etc. Then the wood lathe work begins. Once we have a shae a series of ever finer sandpaper is used to give a smooth surface.
At this stage there are a number of choices of finish from linseed oil for a subtle matt finish, to linseed and then beeswax, or shellac. We tend primarily to go with linseed oil then beeswax. The image below is a work in progress which has had 2 coats of linseed oil, a few more coats to go, ends trimmed and beeswaxed. Gorse tends to be white inside which is great for the contrasting pock marks, unless the spalting process has started which gives it some beautiful lines and a brown colour.
The O'Connors Dartmoor Gorse wood tiper beater sticks are a favourite here at Tontojacks due to the unique patterns provided by the natural wood markings.