Monday, September 7, 2015

Building Banjos #4 and #5 Part 01

As soon as I finished banjo #3 I felt I wanted to push what I'd learned and make at least a neck entirely from scratch. I began work with a plank of American Walnut and a thinner one of British Cherry.

I decided to use just a single carbon fibre rod down the centre, since this neck would be thicker than the last, with a rounded dobson-style heel, and with the central strip of cherry adding to the stability.

Above you can see my very ropey heel cutting jig. This is for cutting the heel at a 3 degree angle and to fit the curve of a rim. The weak link is the cheap wobbly drill press stand and the cheap wobbly drill! It will cut the right curve once compensated for the give in the setup and with some eyeballing, but it is far from perfect! In the future hopefully I'll build something better. I tested it at this stage, but decided to do more work on the necks before cutting the final shape for the heel joints.

I had some maple left over from Banjo #3, and a discarded rosewood fingerboard (my first attempt at cutting fret-slots was not accurate enough so I planed it down and used it for a centre stripe). I made a neck blank for a mini banjo (Banjo #5) from these. The drawing on the right is a headstock design for it, although I didn't end up using this one. I stuck pretty close to the design on the left for the walnut neck on Banjo #4 though.

This time I over-sized the holes for the cross-dowel neck attachment fitting. Much easier!

While working on the necks I managed to find a european supplier of maple drum-shell rims. Here I am cutting a large 12" diameter one down to make several banjo rims.

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