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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Would it be worth my time and money to build this tool?


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/377797

Lemon Banjo and Supply - Posted - 09/16/2021:  19:12:00


I have been thinking about trying to find a cheap but effective way to speed up my neck building so I can get necks and entire banjos done more quickly, mainly to find a healthier balance between banjo building and college. I most certainly do not want to buy a CNC machine. So, I was thinking a copy carver.

My idea was to "mostly" build a neck from cheap but hard and stable wood, and spend plenty of extra time making sure the neck is shaped exactly how I want any subsequent necks to be. I would use that as a pattern for my copy carver.

I was looking at this guy's copy carver. woodgears.ca/copy_carver/copy_phone.html

Thinking before I post this, I would probably need at least 3, possibly more neck patterns because of differently shaped headstocks. I'd need a pattern neck for double cut, fiddle cut, and flyswatter at least, maybe one for the top tension shape and maybe a few more. However, if I made one pattern neck with a square headstock, then I could use the copy carver to make multiple pattern necks then cut a different headstock on each one.

What do y'all think? It'd give me more consistent results on my necks, but would it really work as well as I think it would? I fully realize that a little final shaping plus sanding will be necessary.

OldPappy - Posted - 09/16/2021:  19:50:12


Similar outfits have been used to replicate gunstocks and other things for years, so I am sure you could make banjo neck blanks with this, but I am not sure about using it to shape the heel radius cut, or the peghead. 



Shaping the neck is something I enjoy, and it only takes a couple of hours to do, so I will stick with my rasps, and saws.


Edited by - OldPappy on 09/16/2021 19:51:09

Banner Blue - Posted - 09/16/2021:  20:05:25


Looks like a fun project. There are lots of Youtube videos of guitar neck shaping jigs but they only do the back of the neck, not the heel or peghead. They certainly save time on the grunt part of making a neck.

Helix - Posted - 09/16/2021:  21:10:41


I looked into this 15 yrs ago

It’s too much set up and noise

I’m with OldPappy, my rasps make great necks



 

rmcdow - Posted - 09/16/2021:  21:39:29


Your best CNC/duplicator is your hands, eyes, and the stuff inside your head that connects them together, along with practice. I agree with Larry and Andy about the rasps being the best tool. The peghead can be duplicated with a 3/8" or 1/2" aluminum plate cut to the outline you want for a shape (I used a bandsaw to do this, scary but it worked), then bolted through the tuner holes to your rectangular peghead, and rasped to shape until the rasp grazes over the aluminum, which won't dull it.

Bill H - Posted - 09/17/2021:  03:22:48


Just out of college I embarked on an effort to earn a living as a woodworker. What I learned is that when you need extensive hands on labor for every phase of the product you build, it becomes grueling grind to earn a living. I worked long hours for minimal financial return. While it afforded me the independence and lifestyle I sought, the limits set by the manual labor for every operation were impossible to overcome.



I think if you are serious about building your business in the long-term that any investment in labor saving methods and technology will be worth the effort. Even if you analyze and streamline only the most time consuming operations involved in the process it will pay off. Automation yields consistency, which can add value to your finished product. As long as the quality of the final outcome is not compromised, saving time and achieving consistency is a good goal.


Edited by - Bill H on 09/17/2021 03:24:05

Helix - Posted - 09/17/2021:  05:17:06


There is a transition point for the small builder.

Ask Bart Reiter.

How many table saws do you own, drill presses, jointers, planers and SHAPERS. Then you build your jigs, got any?

All the successful builders are good at multi-tasking which is typically not a male trait. You build several rims, several necks, keep going until finally when you get an order you can build that banjo quickly and make money. I've built two in one 24 hr. period, I had everything there to do the assembly.

Keep a cost sheet or project folder for each banjo, then it's easier to do your taxes.

What are you working on?

Learn how to jump ahead by a week.

And give the people who post on your threads a thank you, we've given lots of ideas.

As mentioned before I have the Craftsman 48" wood lathe and the duplicator that goes with it, it is not a copy carver.

I had some necks made for me in Kentucky by contract. when I got the first two, they were adequate and to my specs, but they had tiny tool lines all through the entire neck that now had to be removed by manual labor. I don't get that problem with hand-hogged necks. And I reach completion sooner with less effort and Noise.

DC5 - Posted - 09/17/2021:  05:32:41


I would were better safety glasses than the guy in the video, but that's just me.

Helix - Posted - 09/17/2021:  05:42:27


No kidding, Dave, the last thing you need is explaining this to the emergency room.

A Drum On A Stick - Posted - 09/17/2021:  06:25:25


A youtuber I watch recently built his own guitar with the aid of a luthier.



The luthier uses a duplicating setup like this in his shop to rough in the neck and heel. Link to relevant part of the build here, in case thats' of any help:



youtu.be/qmDAIlEGO_Q?t=2375



(link goes to 39:30, in case there's an issue)


Edited by - A Drum On A Stick on 09/17/2021 06:26:30

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/17/2021:  06:53:55


A woodworker friend and I once invested in a carving machine. The set-up was very time consuming and had to be done just right or the "copy" would have flat spots or gouges or the wrong contours, and the "finshed" product required as much sanding and smoothing as any work we had "roughed out" by hand. If we'd had the capabilty of using this machine to carve a dozen pieces at a time, things might have been okay, but for one-off parts, the thing was more trouble than it was worth. We used it maybe three or four times, then got rid of it.


Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 09/17/2021 06:56:15

rmcdow - Posted - 09/17/2021:  07:18:26


quote:

Originally posted by Bill H

Just out of college I embarked on an effort to earn a living as a woodworker. What I learned is that when you need extensive hands on labor for every phase of the product you build, it becomes grueling grind to earn a living. I worked long hours for minimal financial return. While it afforded me the independence and lifestyle I sought, the limits set by the manual labor for every operation were impossible to overcome.



I think if you are serious about building your business in the long-term that any investment in labor saving methods and technology will be worth the effort. Even if you analyze and streamline only the most time consuming operations involved in the process it will pay off. Automation yields consistency, which can add value to your finished product. As long as the quality of the final outcome is not compromised, saving time and achieving consistency is a good goal.






I have been in that position myself, where the time it takes to do the manual labor building a series of the same product just takes too long.  When in this situation, I outsourced the manufacturing of the product rather than setting up to make the product in house.  This has worked well for me in the past, and currently, with an Adirondack chair design that I developed, after making 5 prototypes, working with the client to make the small adjustments to the design, wood selection, and assembly, I am jobbing it out to a company in Pennsylvania to make all the parts for 150 chairs on their CNC routing table. 



I have a  friend with a 4' by 10' CNC routing table, and a business acquaintance with a larger one (he builds tiny houses), and the overhead for this, both in space, capital investment, and hired labor to run the machines is high.  It is possible to have a small wood shop with a CNC, and make it work (the friend with a CNC has made it work), but I prefer to work on the artisan side myself (design and prototyping), and leave the heavy lifting to a specialty shop that is set up to do these sort of runs one after another.  It takes a lot to run a large business, and if this is what you are interested in doing, I'd recommend that you be clear about your long term outlook for your business.  



There is a flexibility in having an artisan shop and jobbing out the mass production.  Necks are one part of the banjo that can easily be jobbed out to someone with the capabilities of mass producing them, and at a cost that will be very competitive to making them in house.  I know one high end banjo manufacturer who does just that very successfully. 

hbick2 - Posted - 09/17/2021:  07:29:13


"My idea was to "mostly" build a neck from cheap but hard and stable wood, and spend plenty of extra time making sure the neck is shaped exactly how I want any subsequent necks to be. I would use that as a pattern for my copy carver."

Don't make the mistake of using cheap wood. I used to do a lot of muzzleloading, and guys would pay someone thousands of dollars to build a gun for them and give them a piece of wood they found in their backyard to use, rather than pay a couple of hundred dollars for an outstanding piece of wood with a lot of figure in it. It is a false economy.

By the way, if you can find someone who builds long rifles, or supplies stock blanks for then, ask them for their scraps. When a piece of wood is cut for a long rifle stock, there are usually two stocks cut out of the same piece of wood. Think of it as two hockey sticks laid out on a piece of wood, with the blade parts at opposite ends. There is a piece of wood in the middle that is big enough to build a banjo neck. The wood used for gunstocks is usually fantastic stuff.

Zachary Hoyt - Posted - 09/17/2021:  07:53:31


I cut the neck blank square, then cut off the corners on the bandsaw (this is potentially dangerous, but it does save a little time) and then I use a 12" 80 grit sanding disc on a Shopsmith to shape each neck into a round configuration. To cut off the corners and sand the neck round takes no more than 10 minutes per neck. Then I have to refine the heel and peghead transitions on the spindle sander, maybe another 5 minutes. I find it hard to see how you could save much time over this with an automated setup, though the advantage of CNC and maybe of mechanical carvers(I don't know) is that you can do something else while they do the work.

mike gregory - Posted - 09/17/2021:  08:13:25


There's a fellow who uses a pin router.



youtu.be/-j5rhwuGEy4



And a fellow who uses a dead-head sander



youtu.be/5HJM62cr0vA



As was said above:



Make 10 at once, so you don't have to set up the machinery every time.



I'm not doing it as a way to feed myself and/or my family, so I do 'em by hand, but use a drum rasp  in my Shopsmith for roughing  them out, since it chews off wood like a trained termite.



Ken LeVan - Posted - 09/17/2021:  11:43:31


When I was in art school, I had a classmate who carved wooden eagles with American flag shields—wall hanging bas-relief pieces.  He had a pantograph setup with a bunch of routers, and he would clamp a lot of pieces of wood in a big frame and trace an original master with a stylus, and the pantograph thing would rout out multiple copies of it—the forerunner of a CNC.  He would clean them up with chisels, paint them, and sell them as "hand carved".  He sold a lot of them at craft fairs, etc.  They were more complex than banjo necks and it actually worked.  The only "hand-carving" was his cleaning them up with chisels, but technically, they were hand carved, I guess.



You could probably make a similar thing that would make a couple of roughed out banjo necks at once.


Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/17/2021 11:45:15

Joel Hooks - Posted - 09/17/2021:  12:01:46


Art Gariepy used some kind of neck duplicator that carved 4 necks at a time.

Vega, according to people who worked there in the 1960s, had a duplicator that turned the necks. They stick in a blank and out came a turned neck. Curly maple made the cutter chatter so those all went into the stove for heat.

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/17/2021:  14:25:06


Multiple spindle carving machines have actually been around since the 19th century, and were often used to make carousel horses. The machine my friend and I had for a short time had been patented in the 1890's. It was actually capable of making eight duplicates at a time. It was also about a dozen feet long, five or so feet deep and taller than the average basketball player. In operation, it was louder than a jet fighter plane. Each cutter had to be set individually and each blank had to be larger than the pattern and put in place precisely. The tiniest mistake, such as a piece not being mounted securely enough, and at best, you'd ruin one of the duplicates. It was possible to ruin all eight, wasting a lot of expensive wood.

This multiple carver would have likely been okay for making hundreds of the same parts (no set-up changes) but if one were to have to switch to a slightly different profile (for example, a different peghead, heel, or a longer or shorter scale) a new set-up would be needed and the old set-up lost. There was a lot of "feel" with setting these machines, unlike a CNC, which involves numbers and measurements that can be saved.

mike gregory - Posted - 09/17/2021:  14:56:05


I just love the IDEA of a "trained termite".







The original Australian didgeridoo was a branch that some sort of termites or similar bugs had chawed the middle out of, leaving an "organically grown" wooden tube.



And the local museum has a beetle bin where the larvae chaw off whatever meat or sinew is left on whatever skeleton they're working with.



Bugs ain't ALL nasty!



 

mikehalloran - Posted - 09/17/2021:  17:53:49


quote:

Originally posted by Joel Hooks

...

Vega, according to people who worked there in the 1960s, had a duplicator that turned the necks. They stick in a blank and out came a turned neck. Curly maple made the cutter chatter so those all went into the stove for heat.






Vega necks were dark brown or sported a 'burst stain at the headstock and heel to hide the burn spots made by the duplicator.



Blonde necks like mine were available but there was a significant upcharge ($100 was a lot of money in the 1960s). Blondes had to be carved by hand to avoid the burning. This also allowed customization such as the extra-wide Xcel seen in the BHO Classifieds a few months ago.

Banner Blue - Posted - 09/18/2021:  14:09:31


Some gtr building stuff toward the end



youtube.com/watch?v=NG9IAndPcrw

MaineGeezer - Posted - 09/23/2021:  09:48:31


I've got my doubts about the precision you'd be able to get. But that's immaterial. If you want to try the idea, you'll build it. That's the only you'll know if it's worth it.

When you build the duplicator, try for zero slop, anyplace.

Ken LeVan - Posted - 09/23/2021:  11:57:30


I'm guessing it would take pretty much the same time to hog a neck out with one of those duplicatores as it would just to do it with rasps, and you'd have to sand and finish it anyway, which is the most time-consuming part of shaping a neck.



What if someone wanted a different profile?

G Edward Porgie - Posted - 09/23/2021:  12:24:30


quote:

Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I'm guessing it would take pretty much the same time to hog a neck out with one of those duplicatores as it would just to do it with rasps, and you'd have to sand and finish it anyway, which is the most time-consuming part of shaping a neck.



What if someone wanted a different profile?






I would guess that with the learning curve involved in set-up, the first neck will actually take longer than the old fashioned rasp method, and even the second, third and maybe the fourth will take slightly longer. I'd also suspect that a few neck blanks will need to be scrapped, or at least used for something besides necks.



If you do build this contraption, make sure to wear eye and ear protection, and never, ever, use a dull cutter. Like any machine, servicing a duplicator is essential.

Buddur - Posted - 09/25/2021:  15:37:40


Where did Mr. Lemon go?

Helix - Posted - 11/05/2021:  20:15:12


He got his answers?

jason999 - Posted - 11/07/2021:  04:13:50


quote:

Originally posted by MaineGeezer

I've got my doubts about the precision you'd be able to get. But that's immaterial. If you want to try the idea, you'll build it. That's the only you'll know if it's worth it.



When you build the duplicator, try for zero slop, anyplace.






When I was a teenager,  my father used a duplicator, a lot. He produced wood works on a decent scale, and sold them.



I would sometimes work with him. He was much better with the duplicating router than me. 



His duplicated work looked very precise and smooth. Apparently,  there was more skill involved than you might think. 



I have no doubt that he could have set up a duplicating router that would produce nearly finished necks, in short order. 



I'm sure that's the route that he would have taken if he were building banjos.



At first he just did time consuming work. Later, he preferred to devise systems and process that allowed him to work smarter and it paid off.



I think it could be worth it, if you want to build several necks and you want to work this way. Just understand that it may the some time to set it up and learn to use it properly. 



 



 


Edited by - jason999 on 11/07/2021 04:14:36

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