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I'm excited about new ways to re-invent the wheel

Posted by Jonnycake White on Wednesday, January 4, 2017

One of my interests in banjo building is building from re-purposed items and then using commonly available tools and materials for what I consider to be the most daunting part of the instrument - head tensioning.  I'm currently working on a design that uses the bottom couple of inches of an aluminum pressure cooker for the rim.  I previously used the top couple of inches of the same cooker for an internally tensioned banjo, with great success.  This time I'm doing an externally tensioned banjo with an aluminum flange instead of shoes.  It will also feature (if I can make my mental plans work out) a grooved - not notched - aluminum tension hoop.  It will be much like a bottle cap banjo, but again, made from commonly available materials with commonly available tools.

My definition of "commonly available" basically boils down to "what I can afford" (with my dear wife controlling the budget).  The tool list includes table saw, band saw, disc and spindle sanders, and drill press.  As far as materials go, both the flange and the hoop will be made from 1/8" flat bar, commonly available at hardware stores.  I also propose to do both without casting, machining (on a lathe or mill), welding, soldering, or gluing aluminum.  Once I succeed, I will share my methods on the Building, Setup, and Repair forum.

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