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Jul 22, 2021 - 7:23:44 AM
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742 posts since 5/22/2021

Hi All,

Recently, I decided to start building a long-neck banjo from complete scratch. I decided to do this because I have always wanted a long-neck, but could not afford them due to their high prices (as with any high-schooler :-)), so I embarked on this mission starting on May 28th. By July 22nd, I have completely carved the neck, and am soon going to inlay the frets.

So, for starters, let me list all my materials I have used so far,

1. A Piece of White Pine (Pinus Strobus) wood, to be used as the neck

2. old hardwood window-blinds, was going to be used for frets.

3. Fret wire, just purchased.

4. Dried blueberry wood found in backyard (small branch)

5. Hemlock wood (dead and dried, as a branch from backyard)

6. SUPER GLUE!

7. Birch Banjo Pot, from Jacot23 in Tennessee

8. Banjo heads from Jacot23

9. Banjo metal tension ring, from a cheap overseas banjo from a family friend.

10. Hooks and shoes, also from family friends.

11. Walnut Veneer, from jacot23, Tennessee

TOOLS (includes everything I used so far):

1. A pocket knife, which is sharp

2. Two handsaws

3. a small reciprocating saw (only used once, and I highly recommend to not use it for something like this)

4. a small scroll saw (now FIXED)

5. another small pocket knife

6. sandpaper

7. files

8. screwdriver

PART 1: THE NECK-BUILDING

I started with building the neck around May 28th of this year. Because I live on a small land lot here in Pennsylvania, I did not have many woods to choose and work with. However, just a few weeks before I started my build, a storm rolled through the area, and broke off a large White Pine branch from about 80' high of a ~97' tall tree. I then decided to use this branch, although some parts of it were bent and not straight, mainly because I had tools that were able to cut and shape this softwood. If I chose a hardwood, like maple, I would have a much harder time carving out the neck with the tools I currently had. 

Anyway, as I was saying, this branch was mainly bent for its entire 20 foot length. However, I managed to find a spot were the branch was straight enough to make a neck about 32 inches in length. So, I proceeded to cut it with my hand saw, and soon I had a 32 inch white pine head stock. See photos attached.

By this point, because this was my first time making a banjo, I had a lot of trouble thinking of how to shape the neck and design/cut it from this rough piece of wood. What I did know, for a fact, was that I needed to skin this log and remove the bark, cambium, sappy parts, and dry it out. Remember I only had my pocket knife to do this, as both saws were too thick to cut the bark off.

So, I proceeded to do this, and after a few days of constant skinning with only my china-made pocket knife, I FINALLY got the log all skinned, nice and dry. It probably took over 2000-3000 "whittles" with my pocket knife to get it skinned. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of this part, but just imagine the color of any freshly cut, smoothed, pine wood, and you get the idea.

After this, I needed to cut the flat fingerboard surface on this piece of pine neck. Originally, I carefully marked with marker a flat, level area which I would cut with my handsaw. However, when I was cutting, I noticed that while I was "following" the line I made, I was cutting at  different angle at the bottom edge of the wood (where I could not see at the same time). By the time I realized this, it was too late for me to go back, so I continued to cut. Interestingly, the result turned out much better than what would have happened if I continued with my original plans. I also cut a 7 inch wedge shape into an end of the neck, to hold the tuning pegs at some point.

So, by this point, it was about June 15th. Then I got busy with outside work chores. I continued with this project beginning July 3rd. 

So, on July 3rd, I proceeded to flatten the finger-board part of the neck, which had a few lumps and ridges. I did this with my knife. A few days later, I decided to flatten the bottom of the neck a tad, the part where it would connect to the banjo pot. This likely took another 2000 "whittles" with my knife.

However, a major problem I still had was where to EXACTLY cut the frets into the neck (which, by this point, is liely going to be used as my fingerboard). I did not have many measuring tools, except a tape ruler. 

Thankfully, Ken LeVan of Shunk Pennsylvania was very kind and sent me a seeger long-neck banjo template. I would use this printout template to tape onto the neck, and then cut the frets where they would need to go.

Photos attached at bottom.

So, after taping the template to the neck, I then started to cut with my hand-saw the fret holders.

I originally decided to use hardwood frets (just as an idea), by carving some old hardwood window-blinds that were broken, but this was a very hard and long process. So, I just bought some fret wire from online, and so far, it appears to be working.

 

2. THE FRET LAYING

Just today I started to get the frets laid into the white pine. Although the wood is weaker and softer than nearly every hardwood that is conventionally used, I found a nice method to inlay the metal frets without them popping out. 

As I said in a recent post, my hand-saw dug inlays for the frets did not hold the metal, and they kept on popping out and become very loose. I found out that my hand-saw blades were too thick, despite they were the smallest I could find in my house. My scroll saw then came to the rescue:

The metal inlays would not have been possible if I had not fixed my small scroll saw, which was a free gift from my grandmother, and built in the late 90s. I would imagine anyone can buy this helpful saw for less than 100 dollars today, which is probably worth it, depending on if you use it.

Anyway, I managed to fix the scroll saw this morning, and inserted some sharp new blades into it. I then cut the paper template where the frets would be, and found out that a certain scroll saw blade produced the EXACT width and nice depth needed to comfortably inlay the metal frets. 

I will update this post as I find some more time. PLEASE EXCUSE ANY GRAMMAR ERRORS

 

ALL PHOTOS FROM PROJECT:


Edited by - BeeEnvironment on 11/09/2021 16:12:48

Jul 22, 2021 - 9:49:49 AM
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14019 posts since 6/29/2005

You should definitely read the Foxfire book vol 3 where they discuss making a primitive banjo with hand tools, or as Victor Papanek said with "appropriate technology":

https://www.amazon.com/Foxfire-Dulcimers-Tanning-Ginseng-Affairs/dp/0385022727

Jul 22, 2021 - 10:05:14 AM
Players Union Member

RioStat

USA

5625 posts since 10/12/2009

Also,  you cannot post photos DIRECTLY onto these threads.

You have to download photos to your homepage, then "Attach" them to your post.

Jul 22, 2021 - 11:25:08 AM
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mbanza

USA

2403 posts since 9/16/2007

How dry is your wood? Convention is to air dry wood six months for each half inch of thickness prior to using it.

Also, if you'd like a copy of "Foxfire Three", I have one you can have gratis.

Jul 22, 2021 - 5:54:25 PM

742 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

You should definitely read the Foxfire book vol 3 where they discuss making a primitive banjo with hand tools, or as Victor Papanek said with "appropriate technology":

https://www.amazon.com/Foxfire-Dulcimers-Tanning-Ginseng-Affairs/dp/0385022727


Ken,

Thanks for the recommendation! It seems like a fascinating book to learn from! Also, thanks again for the long neck template. Without that I would have no idea what to do at this point!

I'm planning to try to fix my old scroll saw tomorrow, and see if I can rough out the neck design, and then inlay the metal frets I got just a few hours ago. I was also hoping to possibly coat the surface of the White Pine with something to make it a bit harder, like you said in the other forum topic, but I am still not completely sure.

Jul 22, 2021 - 5:55:01 PM

742 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by RioStat

Also,  you cannot post photos DIRECTLY onto these threads.

You have to download photos to your homepage, then "Attach" them to your post.


Do you mean that the photos are not visible??? Bit confused???

Jul 22, 2021 - 5:59:23 PM

742 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by mbanza

How dry is your wood? Convention is to air dry wood six months for each half inch of thickness prior to using it.

Also, if you'd like a copy of "Foxfire Three", I have one you can have gratis.


The White Pine wood is pretty dry (from what I can tell). I skinned it about a month ago, about 3 weeks after it fell/broke from the tree. I made sure to skin all the living layers, leaving only the heartwood and softwood around it. 

Thanks for the info about drying wood! Is that for using the wood, or for firewood?? If it applies to my situation, it would take about 2 years! :-)

Also, Thanks very much for your kind offer of Foxfire Three! It seems like a very good book for me to learn from (I am still learning; im in High-school). I'll just have to take up that offer :- ). My gmail is Edumailha@gmail.com, let me know if it all will work out.

Jul 22, 2021 - 6:03:23 PM

58450 posts since 12/14/2005

I cannot see the photos...
only a little circle with a line across the middle.

Jul 22, 2021 - 6:39:06 PM

490 posts since 10/18/2020

@Beeenviroment I am not trying to burst your bubble but a branch that has just broke off from a live pine tree only a month or two ago will not be dry enough i have seen pine like that,that took a year or longer to dry out enough to be stable it will twist,turn and in a lot of cases split all over the place i am talking from experience of being a former landscaper and avid wood worker for years think about how many times you have gone into a local home depot or lowes to purchase pine boards those have been processed and dried but still if you can find one or two that is straight or un split is a crap shoot, i feel you are waisting your time with the fresly broke pine, how ever if you could find some old pallets i feel the boards from them would suit you better in your build

i also can not see you photos same as mike gregory

Edited by - Don Smith1959 on 07/22/2021 18:42:39

Jul 23, 2021 - 4:37:04 AM
like this

14019 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by RioStat

Also,  you cannot post photos DIRECTLY onto these threads.

You have to download photos to your homepage, then "Attach" them to your post.


If you use a free image hosting service such as Imgur (and there are a lot of other ones if you Google free "image hosting"), you can upload an image to their site and get a URL, which allows you to post the image directly on this site wherever you want it in your post or thread.

For instance, here's the URL generated from imgur:  https://imgur.com/h7eNelt.jpg

which allows this picture to be posted:

You can try it by pasting the URL I included:  https://imgur.com/h7eNelt.jpg   into the little box that looks like a landscape with mountains on the menu bar at the top in "rich text" and it will post that image.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 07/23/2021 04:41:15

Jul 23, 2021 - 7:06:11 AM

742 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by RioStat

Also,  you cannot post photos DIRECTLY onto these threads.

You have to download photos to your homepage, then "Attach" them to your post.


If you use a free image hosting service such as Imgur (and there are a lot of other ones if you Google free "image hosting"), you can upload an image to their site and get a URL, which allows you to post the image directly on this site wherever you want it in your post or thread.

For instance, here's the URL generated from imgur:  https://imgur.com/h7eNelt.jpg

which allows this picture to be posted:

You can try it by pasting the URL I included:  https://imgur.com/h7eNelt.jpg   into the little box that looks like a landscape with mountains on the menu bar at the top in "rich text" and it will post that image.


Thanks Ken! I'll try to do that. By this afternoon, when I take more photos and put them here in the thread.

I recently ran into a problem this morning. I tried to inlay the metal frets into the white pine wood, but I am having a LOT OF TROUBLE getting them to stay in it. Its like they just pop out and don't stay in. I looked online, and it seems I need a lot of tools to get the frets in right. My fret wire is currently 1.37 mm deep, with a head height of .94mm, and a total width of the head of 1.35 mm. Do you recommend any further steps I should take to get the frets into the wood?

Thanks again

Russ

Jul 23, 2021 - 7:09:20 AM

742 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Don Smith1959

@Beeenviroment I am not trying to burst your bubble but a branch that has just broke off from a live pine tree only a month or two ago will not be dry enough i have seen pine like that,that took a year or longer to dry out enough to be stable it will twist,turn and in a lot of cases split all over the place i am talking from experience of being a former landscaper and avid wood worker for years think about how many times you have gone into a local home depot or lowes to purchase pine boards those have been processed and dried but still if you can find one or two that is straight or un split is a crap shoot, i feel you are waisting your time with the fresly broke pine, how ever if you could find some old pallets i feel the boards from them would suit you better in your build

i also can not see you photos same as mike gregory


Thanks for the advice yes. I will keep that in mind. Ken LeVan reminded me of the same thing: that white pine may twist or turn with time. While I know it may not be the smartest thing to do, I really am doing this for the experience at this point, so I can learn how to do it, and what to not do/to do in the future if I do build another longneck at some point. Have you worked with White Pine in the past? I have seen 200 year old boards of white pine freshly cut way back, and many do not seem all that warped.

Jul 23, 2021 - 7:29:29 AM

hbick2

USA

465 posts since 6/26/2004

quote:
Originally posted by RioStat

Also,  you cannot post photos DIRECTLY onto these threads.

You have to download photos to your homepage, then "Attach" them to your post.


BHO has one of the most confusing procedures for posting photographs I have seen. You can, however, post them directly to the current topic. Here is how I do it:

1. Begin your reply to the current topic.

2. Scroll down and click on "upload photos"

3. Click on the first "choose file". This should take you to the desktop on your computer. Navigate around until you find the photo you want, highlight it and click on "choose". You can do the same for two more photos.

4. When you have chosen the photos you wish to post, click on "upload photos". They will then appear at the bottom of the screen under "attachments". They will also be imbedded in your message but you cannot see them unless you click on "preview" When the message is complete, click on "post reply".

Harry

Jul 23, 2021 - 9:01:52 AM
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Enfield1858

England

128 posts since 8/1/2020

@BeeEnvironment - I appreciate that you're on a very limited budget, but can I suggest you keep your eyes peeled on yard sales, and on-line auction sites for a tool called a 'drawknife' (see picture).  This tool is such an ancient design, I dare say Noah used it when building the Ark (and I'm not exaggerating).  The chances are that a lot of people selling them as 'curios' don't even know what they are, so you may find a bargain.

There are two basic patterns;  one with the handles in-line with the blade, and the other with the handles at right angles to the blade (see attached picture).  I strongly recommend the second type, as just by slightly angling the handles, you can take anything from a deep cut to a paper-thin shaving.  Because of that, it's far faster to use than a plane, which would have to have the setting of the blade angled for the two different cuts.  The straight handled type is nowhere near so controllable, though it does give you a more powerful cutting stroke.  I have seen film footage of people using the drawknife by pushing it away from them - and it looks so clumsy and awkward I can't believe why anyone would do that (and why do they think it's called a drawknife, anyway?)

There's another bit of very ancient equipment which you could easily build from scrap timber with a saw, a rule, and a drill - it's called a shaving horse.  See the attached picture.  You'll note how quick and easy it is to change the position of the wood being worked on, just by relaxing your feet and letting the clamp swing away from you.  As you push yur feet away, the pivoting swings over and clamps the wood firmly in position - and harder you pull with the drawknife, the tighter it holds.

HTH, and best regards,
Jack


Jul 23, 2021 - 9:47:19 AM
likes this

14019 posts since 6/29/2005

I think I warned about pine not holding the frets on another thread.  It's too soft.

I have used pine boards that were sawn at least 200 years ago from a barn in Bucks County PA I once owned.  They are no harder or denser than more recent pine boards. Back in the 18th century, at least in SE Pennsylvania, they used yellow pine for flooring (until the supply ran out) on the main floors of houses and white pine flooring was relegated to upstairs bedrooms that didn't get much wear—It got darker as it aged and they call it "pumpkin pine".  Stair treads made from white pine would wear down like crazy.

I have a table top (actually two) made from really wide 200 yr old white pine boards that were buckboards in an 18th c. barn, and it's very beautiful, but would be too soft to hold frets. You are going to have to saturate that wood with some kind of epoxy resin, IMO.  I would saturate it with something like this:  https://www.systemthree.com/collections/laminating-coating/products/clear-coat-low-viscosity-epoxy-sealer

it will sink into the wood and harden the surface as far as it can be absorbed. You might cut all the fret slots, then saturate it, then saw the slots out again.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 07/23/2021 09:47:49

Jul 23, 2021 - 10:01:40 AM
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Enfield1858

England

128 posts since 8/1/2020

@Ken LeVan - good points.  I think we can take it as read that when a commercial luthier makes a fretted instrument, he wouldn't lay out hard cash on costly woods for the fret-board - especially for budget instruments - if a cheap softwood would do the job tolerably well.

Mind, I do agree with a point made above by @BeeEnvironment;  "While I know it may not be the smartest thing to do, I really am doing this for the experience at this point, so I can learn how to do it, and what to not do/to do in the future if I do build another long-neck at some point."

I'm certain he will, indeed, learn a great deal - and, I dare say, have a lot of fun doing it!

With best regards,
Jack

Jul 23, 2021 - 3:41:48 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14788 posts since 8/30/2006

Our folk group made our own longneck out of a 2 x 4. White pine
Our frets were HO railroad track with HO spikes, too
We measured and cut the fret slots by hand. We did the math.
The actual whittling was pocket knife

Someone in this thread has whittled a Zebra wood neck recently

You kind of jumped from log to frets
There are ways to keep frets in

What headstock shape?

Jul 23, 2021 - 5:12:46 PM

742 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by hbick2
quote:
Originally posted by RioStat

Also,  you cannot post photos DIRECTLY onto these threads.

You have to download photos to your homepage, then "Attach" them to your post.


BHO has one of the most confusing procedures for posting photographs I have seen. You can, however, post them directly to the current topic. Here is how I do it:

1. Begin your reply to the current topic.

2. Scroll down and click on "upload photos"

3. Click on the first "choose file". This should take you to the desktop on your computer. Navigate around until you find the photo you want, highlight it and click on "choose". You can do the same for two more photos.

4. When you have chosen the photos you wish to post, click on "upload photos". They will then appear at the bottom of the screen under "attachments". They will also be imbedded in your message but you cannot see them unless you click on "preview" When the message is complete, click on "post reply".

Harry


Harry,

Thanks for the advice! Can you see the photos now in my first post?

Jul 23, 2021 - 6:21:22 PM
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hbick2

USA

465 posts since 6/26/2004

Yes.

Jul 23, 2021 - 10:48:55 PM

490 posts since 10/18/2020

quote:
Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

Thanks for the advice yes. I will keep that in mind. Ken LeVan reminded me of the same thing: that white pine may twist or turn with time. While I know it may not be the smartest thing to do, I really am doing this for the experience at this point, so I can learn how to do it, and what to not do/to do in the future if I do build another longneck at some point. Have you worked with White Pine in the past? I have seen 200 year old boards of white pine freshly cut way back, and many do not seem all that warped.


@ BeeEnvironment I have used a lot of pine to build things just not green pine, that is why I suggested finding some old pallets and striping the boards from them and using the boards to build your neck a lot of times you can find pallets that the planks were made from oak but those are few and far between anymore i at one time was building a lot of country style shelves a lot of them i used salvaged pallet wood, a lot of times the runners that the pallet decking is nailed to will be long enough and thick enough that you could carve a neck out of them and would just have to add wings to the peg head area to make your peg head believe me i have used all kinds of different recycled wood to build a lot of things 

the draw knife suggestion is a great suggestion also

the person Helix was referring to hand carving a neck was me I literally sat in my recliner and hand carved everything until I had it like I wanted it and you would not believe what I used to carve it some vary small carving chisels i purchased at harbor freight for like $10 where there is a will there is a way 

I am currently building a Mountain Dulcimer for my wife and I am having to use Japanese pull saws to cut a 1/8 inch slice from the thickness of a 9 inch wide board for the top,sides and bottom pieces, because i do not have a band saw that is big enough to rip a 9 inch wide board just because i do not want to plane it down to 1/8 inch thick and waste all that wood

I just hate to see someone waist all that time hand carving something and then hear how it twisted,warped  and split

Edited by - Don Smith1959 on 07/23/2021 22:49:58

Jul 24, 2021 - 7:01:30 AM

1647 posts since 7/2/2007

Are you using a fret slotting saw to cut the fret slots? In the picture, they look kind of wide and that may be part of the problem getting the frets to say put. Fret saws are made to cut the right width of slot.

Some guitar builders cut the fret slots wider on purpose and then glue the frets in with epoxy, clamping each fret as they go until the glue sets.

But being that white pine is so soft, even clamping in frets could easily be overdone by compressing the wood too ending up in uneven fret heights.

Have fun but don't get discouraged if your first banjo project doesn't work out, we all started somewhere just like you are.

Jul 24, 2021 - 8:00:04 AM

742 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I think I warned about pine not holding the frets on another thread.  It's too soft.

I have used pine boards that were sawn at least 200 years ago from a barn in Bucks County PA I once owned.  They are no harder or denser than more recent pine boards. Back in the 18th century, at least in SE Pennsylvania, they used yellow pine for flooring (until the supply ran out) on the main floors of houses and white pine flooring was relegated to upstairs bedrooms that didn't get much wear—It got darker as it aged and they call it "pumpkin pine".  Stair treads made from white pine would wear down like crazy.

I have a table top (actually two) made from really wide 200 yr old white pine boards that were buckboards in an 18th c. barn, and it's very beautiful, but would be too soft to hold frets. You are going to have to saturate that wood with some kind of epoxy resin, IMO.  I would saturate it with something like this:  https://www.systemthree.com/collections/laminating-coating/products/clear-coat-low-viscosity-epoxy-sealer

it will sink into the wood and harden the surface as far as it can be absorbed. You might cut all the fret slots, then saturate it, then saw the slots out again.

 


Hi Ken,

Thanks for the helpful tips! I found out a way to inlay the metal frets into the pine wood sturdily. I used a very specific thin saw on my scroll saw, and the frets fit nearly perfectly! Of course, I did a few frets today, I think about 16, but maybe I can use that laminating coating on the neck with the frets on? If not, I suppose its alright frown, though in terms of how it looks, it might turn out a bit ugly :-)

Jul 24, 2021 - 8:07:32 AM

742 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Enfield1858

@BeeEnvironment - I appreciate that you're on a very limited budget, but can I suggest you keep your eyes peeled on yard sales, and on-line auction sites for a tool called a 'drawknife' (see picture).  This tool is such an ancient design, I dare say Noah used it when building the Ark (and I'm not exaggerating).  The chances are that a lot of people selling them as 'curios' don't even know what they are, so you may find a bargain.

There are two basic patterns;  one with the handles in-line with the blade, and the other with the handles at right angles to the blade (see attached picture).  I strongly recommend the second type, as just by slightly angling the handles, you can take anything from a deep cut to a paper-thin shaving.  Because of that, it's far faster to use than a plane, which would have to have the setting of the blade angled for the two different cuts.  The straight handled type is nowhere near so controllable, though it does give you a more powerful cutting stroke.  I have seen film footage of people using the drawknife by pushing it away from them - and it looks so clumsy and awkward I can't believe why anyone would do that (and why do they think it's called a drawknife, anyway?)

There's another bit of very ancient equipment which you could easily build from scrap timber with a saw, a rule, and a drill - it's called a shaving horse.  See the attached picture.  You'll note how quick and easy it is to change the position of the wood being worked on, just by relaxing your feet and letting the clamp swing away from you.  As you push yur feet away, the pivoting swings over and clamps the wood firmly in position - and harder you pull with the drawknife, the tighter it holds.

HTH, and best regards,
Jack


Thanks for the suggestions, Jack! Yeah, I am on a very limited budget, which is not much (as for many high-schoolers my age). However, I might be able to find a nice drawknife for a good price, as you said.

The drawknife seems like a very helpful and impressive tool to use not only for banjos, but also for just building things in general! The second type you mentioned seem to cost about 30 dollars online, but maybe one can be found for about 20 bucks.

I'll also keep that shaving horse idea in mind. It would have definetely helped with the hours and hours I spent on carving the neck with my pocket knife!

Jul 24, 2021 - 8:14:55 AM

742 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I think I warned about pine not holding the frets on another thread.  It's too soft.

I have used pine boards that were sawn at least 200 years ago from a barn in Bucks County PA I once owned.  They are no harder or denser than more recent pine boards. Back in the 18th century, at least in SE Pennsylvania, they used yellow pine for flooring (until the supply ran out) on the main floors of houses and white pine flooring was relegated to upstairs bedrooms that didn't get much wear—It got darker as it aged and they call it "pumpkin pine".  Stair treads made from white pine would wear down like crazy.

I have a table top (actually two) made from really wide 200 yr old white pine boards that were buckboards in an 18th c. barn, and it's very beautiful, but would be too soft to hold frets. You are going to have to saturate that wood with some kind of epoxy resin, IMO.  I would saturate it with something like this:  https://www.systemthree.com/collections/laminating-coating/products/clear-coat-low-viscosity-epoxy-sealer

it will sink into the wood and harden the surface as far as it can be absorbed. You might cut all the fret slots, then saturate it, then saw the slots out again.

 


Ken,

Yeah, you were right for the most part with white pine being a bit too soft for frets. However, I found out I made a big mistake with using my hand-saws to cut the fret slots. I originally thought the smallest (thinnest) handsaw would cut a nice slot for the frets, but this was actually causing me to have problems with getting the metal frets to stick in.

Anyway, I was able to, thankfully, fix my scroll saw (built in the 90s) the other day, and I found out that a specific blade I had for the saw was able to cut the near exact width and depth needed to snugly insert the frets without them becoming loose or popping out. Unfortunately, I might have to fill in 2 or 3 frets that were cut with my hand-saw, as they are too wide for the frets. I was then thinking of cutting them into the wood after filling.

Jul 24, 2021 - 8:19:57 AM

742 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by BeeEnvironment
quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

I think I warned about pine not holding the frets on another thread.  It's too soft.

I have used pine boards that were sawn at least 200 years ago from a barn in Bucks County PA I once owned.  They are no harder or denser than more recent pine boards. Back in the 18th century, at least in SE Pennsylvania, they used yellow pine for flooring (until the supply ran out) on the main floors of houses and white pine flooring was relegated to upstairs bedrooms that didn't get much wear—It got darker as it aged and they call it "pumpkin pine".  Stair treads made from white pine would wear down like crazy.

I have a table top (actually two) made from really wide 200 yr old white pine boards that were buckboards in an 18th c. barn, and it's very beautiful, but would be too soft to hold frets. You are going to have to saturate that wood with some kind of epoxy resin, IMO.  I would saturate it with something like this:  https://www.systemthree.com/collections/laminating-coating/products/clear-coat-low-viscosity-epoxy-sealer

it will sink into the wood and harden the surface as far as it can be absorbed. You might cut all the fret slots, then saturate it, then saw the slots out again.

 


Hi Ken,

Thanks for the helpful tips! I found out a way to inlay the metal frets into the pine wood sturdily. I used a very specific thin saw on my scroll saw, and the frets fit nearly perfectly! Of course, I did a few frets today, I think about 16, but maybe I can use that laminating coating on the neck with the frets on? If not, I suppose its alright frown, though in terms of how it looks, it might turn out a bit ugly :-)

 


Ken,

Forgot to mention, I live just 2 counties away from Bucks! 

Yeah, loblolly pines of great size are now pretty uncommon in SE PA. Actually, now that I think of it, I probably never even seen a downed tree in these parts. 

Those tabletops must look real nice in that ancient pine wood! White Pine used to be much more common here in SE PA, but most of the living ones today have been planted, and not from the original forests. I have noticed that as the weather has been warming a bit here, the white pines do worse, and do not seed often.

Jul 24, 2021 - 8:22:13 AM

742 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Enfield1858

@Ken LeVan - good points.  I think we can take it as read that when a commercial luthier makes a fretted instrument, he wouldn't lay out hard cash on costly woods for the fret-board - especially for budget instruments - if a cheap softwood would do the job tolerably well.

Mind, I do agree with a point made above by @BeeEnvironment;  "While I know it may not be the smartest thing to do, I really am doing this for the experience at this point, so I can learn how to do it, and what to not do/to do in the future if I do build another long-neck at some point."

I'm certain he will, indeed, learn a great deal - and, I dare say, have a lot of fun doing it!

With best regards,
Jack


Yep, having a great time! It probably wont be playable for long, but it has been fun to imagine the design and make it. Because of the lack of information online about building a long-neck with limited resources, I hope others would be able to experiment with building longnecks with just a few tools, and what woods to use :-)

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