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May 17, 2021 - 1:06:40 AM
250 posts since 2/16/2017


So I ordered a cheap 11" hand drum to make a full size banjo however when it arrived it's a 10" drum. So I've decided to bite the bullet and attempt to make my own pot.

My idea is to attach dowels at regular intervals to the outside of the 10" rim to match the inside diameter of an 11" rim, then use it as a jig for the laminations, building it up till I reach the outside diameter. I'm toying with the idea of using felxi ply (which is also cheap but bendy) but not knowing anything about rim construction I don't know if this will work.

What is the inside diameter of an 11" rim?

Of course if anyone knows a better way to construct a rim on the cheap I'd love to hear! I don't have a workshop or lathe so a block rim would be out of my scope.

May 17, 2021 - 3:22:06 AM
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1743 posts since 6/2/2010

Well if you used the 10 inch drum without any dowel additions you would have a 1/2 inch thick pot when you laminate it up to 11 inches. Any additions will make the rim thinner.

To answer your question - the inside diameter of an 11 inch pot is directly related to how thick the pot will be. 1/4 thick pot inside is 10 1/2. 1/2 thick pot inside is 10 inches. 3/4 inch pot inside is 9 1/2 inches.

If it was me I would probably just make the banjo using the 10 inch drum.

May 17, 2021 - 4:01:06 AM

250 posts since 2/16/2017

Thanks, that makes sense, 1/2" thick sounds about right, I've just coated the rim in aluminium tape (to avoid gluing it to the rim) all I need now is some veneer sheets, glue and clamps


May 17, 2021 - 4:54:17 AM
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13598 posts since 6/29/2005

You could just build up the 10" rim until you have reached an 11" outside diameter, and you would have a perfectly good, if fairly thick, 11" rim.

Many ways to do it—what tools do you have at your disposal?

May 17, 2021 - 5:03:21 AM

250 posts since 2/16/2017

Did think of building up the rim to 11" but it would look very thick, plus it would need more laminates than if I built it just from 10" to 11"

As far as tools go, I have the basic,

hand drill
small desk vice

Nothing in the way of powered machinery, no band saws, pillar drills or belt sanders

May 17, 2021 - 5:33:20 AM
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13598 posts since 6/29/2005

There are some places that sell 1/16" veneer. If you can find that in a straight grain, in some wood like maple, you can bend strips without steaming.

You could cut strips to the exact length for each layer and stagger the joints—each successive layer stiffens the lamination and stops it from going out-of-round.

You would have to use web-clamps to clamp the layers around the inner 10" mandrel

eight 1/16" laminations would bring a 10" O.D. up to 11" and you would have an 11" rim, very similar to the 7-ply ones Vega made in the early 1900s, which were about 1/2" thick and among the best rims ever made

Here's a close-up of a 1020s Vega rim, and you can see two of the staggered joints, which were staggered all around the rim


Edited by - Ken LeVan on 05/17/2021 05:33:43

May 17, 2021 - 5:47:39 AM
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250 posts since 2/16/2017

That's massively helpful thanks Ken, I was thinking maple but with a contrasting inner and outer layer. Bending without steaming will be much easier!!

1/16" veneer it is


May 17, 2021 - 5:58:27 AM

57412 posts since 12/14/2005

There's no absolute RULE that a banjo MUST be a certain size.
You have a banjo body with a ten inch head.
Adding laminations will give you an eleven inch body, with a ten inch head.
Unless you're planning to replace the head.

I have made a nice sounding banjo from a ten inch drum, as may be seen in the accompanying video.

Edited by - mike gregory on 05/17/2021 05:59:47

May 17, 2021 - 8:21:24 AM

250 posts since 2/16/2017

May 17, 2021 - 10:18:46 PM
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57412 posts since 12/14/2005

With that nice a ten, why bother inflating another ten to an eleven?
Why not just have two tens?
Or cobble up a salad bowl and a 2L plastic bottle for a 6 or 8?

May 18, 2021 - 3:00:56 AM
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250 posts since 2/16/2017

Mike it was your salad bowl banjo's that inspired me to make my first one, still sounds great to this day and so loud it can knock old ladies over at thirty paces :D


May 18, 2021 - 4:23:09 AM
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57412 posts since 12/14/2005

"Help! I've come within 30 paces of a very loud salad bowl banjo, and I can't get up!"

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