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How to Fiberglass your Bongos

By Matthew Dubuque

Many of us here own more than one pair of bongos. Some of us own several pairs.

Cyrus's post about his command "heavy metal" performance on bongos inspires me to share with the group my tested techniques for fiberglassing a spare pair of bongos.

1. First, go to the hardware store and buy a fiberglassing kit in the auto repair section. It costs about 6 dollars. It consists of some woven special fiberglass cloth, some resin, and some hardener.

2. Buy a cheap paintbrush, and a few pairs of plastic gloves. Proceed to an area where you can take up some room and make a cool mess for a few days.

3. Take all of the hardware and the skins off of each of the bongo shells. Separate everything into its component parts. At the end you will have just two bare wooden cylinders.

4. Apply masking tape to the outside edges of each bongo shell to prevent the fiberglassing process from splattering and marring your beautiful exterior finish. This is a critical step.

5. In a VERY well ventilated area, begin to fiberglass your bongoes. Do this by cutting the fiberglass cloth into small sections and carefully laying small portions gracefully draped on the interior of the shell. Do this in two or three stages. Conceptually, much of this process is similar to applying Bondo in stages to a large cosmetic defect in your car.

6. Mix your resin and hardener in a ceramic or glass bowl per the directions on the package. This stuff dries very quickly, so move quickly! Wear gloves during the process. You'll be glad you did.

7. Slather the quickly drying resin liberally upon the pieces of cut fiberglass fabric that you have draped so beautifully inside the shells of your drums.

8. Use your brush to make the interior a smooth surface, removing bubbles and the like, because you will be applying another coat in a few days. Remove any excess resin that remains, especially from the places where the hardware and skins will come into contact during reassembly.

9. Set the shells aside for 48 hours and avoid the temptation to test, tinker and bowl with them. This will give the resin a chance to become very hard.

10. After 48 hours, sand and smooth the fiberglass surfaces with 150 grit sandpaper. Clean the surface afterwards with a moistened cloth, then allow to dry.

11. Repeat steps 5 through 10.

12. Carefully replace all hardware.

13. Delight your friends and neighbors with the new and powerful sounds you get from a set of fiberglassed bongos!

All contents of this site copyright 2004-2007 Cyrus Joaquin Heiduska, unless otherwise indicated