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First banjo build - progress update #1

Posted by d13design on Sunday, April 15, 2012

Well this weekend has been very productive with both a good trip to a local (hidden) lumber yard and a day beavering away in the garage.

Having finally tracked down a local timber supplier (hidden down a one-way farm-track only 1 village away from me!) I took a look at the assorted hardwood they had on offer. Unfortunately the oak and mahogany were a little out of my price range, especially as I'm not sure I'll have the skills to get this right first try, and there was no maple to be found. What I did get is a nice piece of Idigbo - an African wood very similar to Korina - that appears to be very nice and is easy to work with although I suspect it isn't going to be strong enough when it all starts to come together.

I've decided to keep things simple as far as rim construction and have opted for 3 layers, each made up of 4 segments. This will give me a tube with an outer diameter of roughly 11" and a height of just under 3" - hopefully the wood and the glue will hold up enough to keep this together, that's if my cutting skills are good enough to get the segments cut!

The wood has been planed to 1" thick and I'll be making the neck out of two profiles stuck together, again hopefully it'll all be strong enough once glued.

The first bit of cutting was the neck, as the multitude of curves scared me a little, and the two profiles matched closely enough to be glued together. They're now resting overnight under pressure and the moment of truth will be later in the week when I remove the clamps and give them an examination.

If all goes well I'll then trim up the horrible overlaps caused by my poor saw work and begin the process of shaping the neck. I'll probably add a couple of ears to the headstock before this, just to give me plenty of flexibility with the design when I get there.

I also need to make a decision on what to do about the truss rod, it's definitely a good idea with my concerns about the strength of the wood but it seems to be a magical device that I'm not sure I fully understand. As well as that I'm struggling to find a supplier in the UK for one and I'm not sure I can face the $30 shipping charge from a US supplier.

Any advice on how to approach this is most welcomed. I do also have a length of threaded steel that I could put to use but again the mystical magic of the truss rod baffles me.

1 comment on “First banjo build - progress update #1”

tgaryc Says:
Sunday, April 15, 2012 @12:20:21 PM

you need more C clamps and think about grain direction on the rim segments. Some people use carbonfiber for an unadjustable trussrod,and some use aircraft aluminian ( I can't spell) on openback banjo's. Most of the early openback banjo's were made this way, or without a trussrod. If you do use atruss rod look at the HotRod 2 way truss rod. Look up for parts and instructions. Best of luck Gary C

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