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Sep 16, 2013 - 4:33:38 PM
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Joined Nov 11, 2009


I wasn't fully pleased with the way Pharaoh 2's inlay was feeling... it needed something. Perhaps a bit more light movement or energy as my buddy Craig would describe it. So I spent most of the day installing a whole passel of tiny pearl dots and some lines...

First I measured the dots, .094...

Then I measured a drill bit. Lucky guy it was also .094.

Then I went to drillin'.

First I place the dot on the hole then drive it home...

I thought that the base needed some dots too ...

After all of the dots got installed I routed for binding and installed that too. Unfortunately the cameras batteries ran down so I didn't get all of the photos I'd have liked. Here I'm gluing in the binding and purfling...

There it is, bound and inlaid!

Again, tomorrow...

Sep 17, 2013 - 9:03:47 PM

2964 posts
Joined Nov 11, 2009


I just walked in THE HOUSE from roasting the coffee beans, teaching banjo and talking to my daughter Jenny in California. Oh yes I also worked in the shop and had a nice long conversation with my Washington state pal Tom Bergan.

On to today's photos...

I'm going to be cutting the heel on the Pharaoh 2 banjo's neck heel after I get back from this weeks traveling. I'd been thinking about making this change in my heel cutting jig. It is an added bed to support the neck during cutting.

After figuring my demensions I got a block of maple and went to town cutting...

After cutting and fitting the bed is glued to the jig.

Then off I went to a couple of hours of buffing and finish sanding...You'd think it would go quicker with the buffer....

Another banjo is in the works and so I started preparing the pearl for cutting. I'm thinking of bringing my boat pearl cutting rig with me on this next trip...I might just make some hay that a-way.

This is a symmetrical pattern and the easiest way to get symmetry is to cut both sides at the same time. So I'm gluing two pieces of pearl together ready for cutting.

Oh yes, mu buddy and student Denton Jordan came in to lesson today with the coolest finger pick, a clawhammer Thimble. It is very nicly made and REALLY IMPROVES THE TONE. Might allow me to give up on the nail job.... here is a link...

Did I say that I just came in from coffee roasting? Here is the newest addition to my roasting tool kit. Two pipe flanges added to my Harbor Freight Heat Gun that protect it and help the roasting pot retain its heat. These roasts went quicker and were more even than before! Thanks goes to Joe Snow for this great idea.

Tomorrow, ON THE ROAD AGAIN...


Edited by - Dan Knowles on 09/17/2013 21:10:47

Sep 18, 2013 - 8:23:02 AM
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1123 posts
Joined May 5, 2007

Dan I checked your thread views a moment ago and it was "69,999.!!!" This should make 70,000!!! Congratulations on bringing so much attention to building and what goes on n the day of a luthier..., at least for one in Paris, Tennessee. It has been fun to watch. Somewhere in there Saint Augustine was built but that was months ago and many repairs, builds, and riverboat stories ago. David E.

Sep 18, 2013 - 11:08:03 AM

4074 posts
Joined Jun 3, 2011

And this should be 70,001.  Keep the posts coming.  big  big  big  yes

Sep 19, 2013 - 7:45:48 AM

169 posts
Joined Jan 4, 2006

Hello Readers and Followers of Mr.Dan Knowles.  As you know, he's travelling on the river boat right now.  Dan created a picture he'd asked me to share with you.  Keep playin'...

70,000 reads

Sep 19, 2013 - 12:04:27 PM



407 posts
Joined Feb 11, 2010

Thimble pic: I love mine, and there are threads on it, seems to be pretty popular.
Dan, if you ever get a chance, you should give us a run down on your coffee "system". I thought I read all the posts, it seems you have a top secret system, but I can't figure out what it is you are actually doing, but it sounds interesting.
Great thread here, keep it up,

Sep 19, 2013 - 3:14:20 PM

628 posts
Joined Mar 30, 2009

On page 4 of this thread Dan talks a little about his roasting technique.  It is discussed a couple of times through out the thread.  Hope that helps.

Sep 19, 2013 - 6:25:29 PM

1083 posts
Joined Dec 24, 2010


I would never have thought a semi-random sprinkling of dots would so perfectly complete the rest of the inlay design which is quite structured.  Nice!

Edited by - Paul Meredith on 09/19/2013 18:25:57

Sep 19, 2013 - 7:18:21 PM



407 posts
Joined Feb 11, 2010

Kirk: thanks!
Sep 19, 2013 - 8:07:40 PM

Kaelri Players Union Member


640 posts
Joined Apr 27, 2012

I agree, the dot inlays do bring the whole design right around and make it (the inlay design) just right. Mighty fine. smiley

Sep 20, 2013 - 6:28:46 PM

592 posts
Joined Jul 23, 2013

I love following this thread-you've got a great job man. What more can you tell me about your root beer recipe?

Sep 20, 2013 - 6:36:17 PM

2964 posts
Joined Nov 11, 2009




70,000 reads... back when my friend David Emery suggested the idea of this post I never would have imagined that there would be this many folks interested in my life. If you have enjoyed this post so far please let David know about it, his idea made it happen!

Sep 20, 2013 - 6:42:52 PM

1242 posts
Joined Apr 29, 2013

Great idea, David! yes

I've been enjoying this thread even before I joined BHO.

Btw, Dan, I like the pearl dots. It sets the fret board off along with the other inlays. The range of colors is nice, too.

Edited by - Noah Cline on 09/20/2013 18:47:52

Sep 20, 2013 - 6:57:27 PM

2964 posts
Joined Nov 11, 2009


Thank you for posting the photo. Being without good internet on the Queen of the Mississippi nearly drove me crazy! Good thing the text messaging still worked!

Rich & Kirk,

I guess Kirk beat me to punch on this one.... I saw you post and started figuring how I'd shoot some photos of the coffee roasting... then Wala! Kirk saved my bacon (and a lot of work too). Thanks Kirk. One added note should you want to pursue the coffee roasting,  This new heat gun (from Harbor Freight) is a big improvement over the Wagner. The heat shields that were made from the plumbing flanges are a must. They will save the plastic housing of the gun and they also increase the heat holding ability of the pot (because they partially cover the top of the pot). This dramatically speeds the roast.

Ellen, Paul & Noah,

Thank you for your inlay comments. 


I'll try to remember to follow the process here on the BHO next time I make some. I'll also try to remember to find an post my current recipe. The recipe changes all the time as Joe and I refine it. Mostly it is Sassafras root, Wintergreen, sugar (or some other sweetener),  yeast and water. It is one of the more interesting drinks that one can home brew in that even the most traditional or Old Time recipes vary greatly.    

Edited by - Dan Knowles on 09/20/2013 18:58:32

Sep 20, 2013 - 7:43:02 PM

2964 posts
Joined Nov 11, 2009



I'm sure that y'all have figured out by now that I've been out performing on the Queen of the Mississippi for the past couple of days. I am writing this post back home in Paris.

My wife Debra, my pal Tyler Andel and I had a great trip as we drove down to Vicksburg, Mississippi on Wednesday to perform on the Queen. We made a stop in Memphis for lunch at a wonderful Indian restaurant called the India Palace. The food was GREAT! If you like Indian food and are in Memphis, it's the place to go! I can't tell you what it was exactly that I ate but I can tell you that it sure was tasty!

Here is a link to their web site...

I realize that life on the road can sometimes seem romantic, wine, wimen, song and all but the truth is captured in this photo. This 'un got took it as we were enjoying a parking lot known as I-40 around exit 12 in Memphis.

Oh... here we are in the India Palace, aren't cell phones great!

After a bunch of hours of driving this wonderful sight greeted us, our home away from home, the Queen of the Mississippi!

You can tell Tyler was glad to be out of the van!

Our nearly two day room. Can you identify the banjos? Can you figure out how many were there? (the answer can be found on page 129)

Here are some photos of my sweet old friend the river Mississippi... It's down a bunch from the last trip although not near as low as when I was on last year in November. Still this river is AMAZING!

More Tomorrow From Paris, Tennessee!

Edited by - Dan Knowles on 09/20/2013 19:44:28

Sep 24, 2013 - 10:45:40 AM

2964 posts
Joined Nov 11, 2009


Yesterday Tyler Andel, Eddie Coffey, my wife Debra and I  drove to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Debbie dumped us off  so we could do a show Monday night on the Queen of the Mississippi. We were traveling down the Mississippi river then up(north bound for your river rats) the Ohio river to Paducah, Kentucky. I'll be doing a show tonight & tomorrow with a different group of villains... my son Sam, Danny Conger, Mark Holladay & Josh Coffey (Eddie's son). Here we are on the river bank in Cape.

Sherry Lynn needed a new set of strings...

Here was my afternoon banjo class. They always do so good. Check out Tyler wit Sherry Lynn in the background.

Cairo point... the meeting of the Mississippi & Ohio rivers. A good spot to fish!

On stage with Eddie & Tyler, it was fun having two banjos in the lineup. It was even more fun having one with Tyler's ability...2013 National Old- Time Banjo Champion, 2013 Grand Masters Fiddle Champion of the United States and several more! We had a wonderful time with these folks!

More soon...


Sep 24, 2013 - 10:54:14 AM

jbalch Players Union Member


8451 posts
Joined Nov 28, 2003

Two National OT Banjo champions in one show.  That has to be a first! ;<)

Sep 24, 2013 - 11:01:35 AM
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Joined Nov 11, 2009

I don't know if it was a first... but it sure was fun!

Sep 25, 2013 - 1:29:56 PM

2964 posts
Joined Nov 11, 2009


Tuesday following a very pleasant trip, the Queen of the Mississippi was ported in the beautiful river city of Paducah, Kentucky. Eddie and Tyler after a great breakfast of Kirchoff's best bread and coffee loaded up in their vehicles and headed home. So I wondered the town and what a pretty town it is!

Although I grabbed a umbrella it still rained. Mostly a slow drizzle but wet none the less...

Around 5 PM the guys in the band started to show up and we had a quick rehearsal of The Tennessee River Song and Somewhere over the Rainbow.

8:15 we take the stage!

Here I'm found playing The Pharaoh...

Mark Holladay and his '48 D-18

Danny Conger sawin' away!

Josh Coffey (Eddie's son) with his Gibson...

Here we are again... that's my son Sam on the far right keeping us together on the bass.

Tonight we will be on the Cumberland river between Dover and Clarksville, Tennessee. These are my home waters!

More soon!


Sep 26, 2013 - 7:03:21 AM

2964 posts
Joined Nov 11, 2009


Yesterday I woke to the sound of a river boat entering a lock. I jumped up, dressed and ran outside to find that we were on the Tennessee river instead of the Cumberland.

You see I knew that Dover, Tennessee, where we were aiming for is on the Cumberland river so that was the lock I expected to be heading into. It was great to go through the Tennessee river lock (into the Kentucky Lake) as the rise in the Tennessee lock is much greater than the Cumberland.

Here was something new which I had never noticed in a lock before. Whirl pools forming as water is pumped into the lock. By the way this lock is capable of rising 75 feet although on our trip It looked more like 50 or so feet of rise.

Danny trying to figure it all out...

On the Cumberland river after going through Barkley Cannel,  which connects the two lakes.

Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddieville, Kentucky. First time I saw this place it was night and I was in the wheelhouse with Capt. Kenny Williams.

"Who lives in that big ole' castle" I mused.

"bout 3,000 prisoners" was the reply.

It still looks somewhat like a castle to me... if they'd just get rid of the water tower.

Barkley River scenes.

Dover to Clarksville soon...

Sep 27, 2013 - 4:51:26 AM

2964 posts
Joined Nov 11, 2009


We managed to make it home yesterday in the wee hours of the morning after having played a concert for another wonderful boat audience. So the rest of the day was spent choosing and editing photos for Craig Evans Banjo Builders series. I never would have figured that choosing a few photos could be so difficult.

Back to Wednesday...

After a beautiful day of boating on the Cumberland River we arrived and spent a few hours in Dover, Tennessee where the boys in the band boarded... that is except Danny who had stayed on board.

The Dover highway 79 bridge...

It is so beautiful that I have to pinch myself to prove that it's all real!

Josh Coffey kicking back!

Our wonderful curse director Andrea has been shooting photos of us for the forum... Thank you for the great work! You are the best!

I love this twin fiddle work that Danny & Josh create. I makes me wish I had Tyler here for a full old time Orkestra!

This little light!

Dr. Coffey wears it out!

More tonight!

Sep 27, 2013 - 1:57:28 PM

426 posts
Joined Jan 4, 2011

Dan--Andrea's on board responsibilities are a bit disturbing!

Sep 27, 2013 - 6:05:20 PM

2159 posts
Joined Dec 4, 2009

Hello Dan,

Are you coming back to Cincinnati? I read in the paper recently that Kentucky was encouraging more river boat traveling via the Queen. 

Sep 28, 2013 - 3:36:07 PM

2964 posts
Joined Nov 11, 2009


A massive I'm Sorry goes out to our fantastic Cruise Director Andrea... (Thanks for catching that Steve). Curse director indeed!


John, I currently have no tours planned in the Cincinnati direction... but that could quickly change!


Today (among several projects) I worked on cutting the heel and carving the neck on the Pharaoh 2 banjo. Each builder has their own way of doing this process, many which might be quicker or easier... this works for me.

The neck blank is centered into this jig and is clamped down.

Next it goes to the band saw where it rotates on a matching base and the major amount of the excess is removed....

Next I mark out the tension hoop pocket. Then I cut and chisel the waste out... this part takes maybe 5 minutes.

I haddn't installed the side marker dots so I drilled for them now...

And glued & cut the rod to leangth...

After re-truing the marked side of the fingerboard, the neck is placed in this drill press jig and is sanded to shape.

The heel shape is marked and trimmed on the band saw. Also a great amount of the neck waste wood is cut off here too.

Up on the neck carving fixture I begin carving...

More Soon!


Sep 28, 2013 - 4:08:27 PM

3123 posts
Joined Jan 2, 2004



If yuou'd be so kind:

How do you cut the tension hoop pocket, and what size bandsaw blade do you use?



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