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Aug 21, 2021 - 7:18:45 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14821 posts since 8/30/2006

Keep going, don't look down and don't look back. I'm still not very impressed, just a little. Have smiles and fun with this.
You've got great help close by in Mr. Levan.

Aug 21, 2021 - 7:52:13 AM

766 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan

you might consider putting violin rosin on the tuner shafts to stop them from backsliding when you tune it up.


Hey Ken!

That's a very good idea! I don't know how I will be able to fit the rosin block into the holes, but my brother plays violin, so I'll try asking him! That would help we a lot, because it would help the pegs turn a bit smoother I suppose.

Aug 21, 2021 - 7:53:24 AM

766 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

Keep going, don't look down and don't look back. I'm still not very impressed, just a little. Have smiles and fun with this.
You've got great help close by in Mr. Levan.


Thanks! Yes, Ken has been a great help, along with everyone else who has contributed here. Even though I have probably invested over 60 hours on this, I enjoy every single second smiley :-)

Aug 21, 2021 - 7:55:30 AM

14040 posts since 6/29/2005

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

you might consider putting violin rosin on the tuner shafts to stop them from backsliding when you tune it up.


Hey Ken!

That's a very good idea! I don't know how I will be able to fit the rosin block into the holes, but my brother plays violin, so I'll try asking him! That would help we a lot, because it would help the pegs turn a bit smoother I suppose.


You just rub the tuner shafts with it.

Aug 21, 2021 - 9:39:29 AM

766 posts since 5/22/2021

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

you might consider putting violin rosin on the tuner shafts to stop them from backsliding when you tune it up.


Hey Ken!

That's a very good idea! I don't know how I will be able to fit the rosin block into the holes, but my brother plays violin, so I'll try asking him! That would help we a lot, because it would help the pegs turn a bit smoother I suppose.


You just rub the tuner shafts with it.


Ah Okay, thanks! I tried it, and it seems to help a tad, but the rosin keeps on breaking or not come off onto the pegs when I try it. It did help some though.

Russ

Aug 21, 2021 - 1:49:04 PM

14040 posts since 6/29/2005

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

you might consider putting violin rosin on the tuner shafts to stop them from backsliding when you tune it up.


Hey Ken!

That's a very good idea! I don't know how I will be able to fit the rosin block into the holes, but my brother plays violin, so I'll try asking him! That would help we a lot, because it would help the pegs turn a bit smoother I suppose.


You just rub the tuner shafts with it.


Ah Okay, thanks! I tried it, and it seems to help a tad, but the rosin keeps on breaking or not come off onto the pegs when I try it. It did help some though.

Russ


When you actually string the banjo, that would be the time to see whether the pegs slip—if you are planning to use steel strings, you may have other things to be concerned about besides slipping.

Just as an aside, there are a lot of trees down up here from the storm last week—heavy equipment including cranes are being used.  Any trees that went down in Rickett's glen would have to be removed by helicopters because of the sensitivity of the site.  I haven't heard anything about it, so that's good news.  Most of what goes down is dead ash trees and anything with trunk rot.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 08/21/2021 14:02:18

Aug 21, 2021 - 3:15:17 PM

766 posts since 5/22/2021

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

you might consider putting violin rosin on the tuner shafts to stop them from backsliding when you tune it up.


Hey Ken!

That's a very good idea! I don't know how I will be able to fit the rosin block into the holes, but my brother plays violin, so I'll try asking him! That would help we a lot, because it would help the pegs turn a bit smoother I suppose.


You just rub the tuner shafts with it.


Ah Okay, thanks! I tried it, and it seems to help a tad, but the rosin keeps on breaking or not come off onto the pegs when I try it. It did help some though.

Russ


When you actually string the banjo, that would be the time to see whether the pegs slip—if you are planning to use steel strings, you may have other things to be concerned about besides slipping.

Just as an aside, there are a lot of trees down up here from the storm last week—heavy equipment including cranes are being used.  Any trees that went down in Rickett's glen would have to be removed by helicopters because of the sensitivity of the site.  I haven't heard anything about it, so that's good news.  Most of what goes down is dead ash trees and anything with trunk rot.


Ken,

Thanks for the advice! But, just a question: What do you think I will be concerned about when I put strings on? Is there anything that I should be cautious about specifically?

Oooh, I hope most of the forests up there are doing well after the storms. Do you know if huge swaths of forest was cut from the storm??? I know of a old-growth forest in the Pocono Mountain region, called the George Childs Park (part of the Delaware Water Gap NRA), and they had MAGNIFICENT Old-growth virgin White Pines and Hemlocks along with hardwoods, and they reached nearly HUGE sizes (not the mention the many beautiful waterfalls along the creek). They were preserved, and really lived for hundreds of years, and many were in strong sturdy shape as could be. Then came a devastating winter storm in 2018, I think a noreaster. Unfortunately, after this one storm, nearly all the ancient Huge white pines and hemlocks came crashing down, destroying the trails, younger trees, and many native bushes. Looked like a tornado came through. Here are some photos:

Anyway, even though this was a winter storm, I hope that the forests there are doing all right.

BeeE




Aug 25, 2021 - 12:24:41 PM
likes this

58496 posts since 12/14/2005

To flatten the fingerboard, and later to get the frets to the same height, I cut open a belt sander belt, tack it to a very flat worktop, and push and pull it, side-to side, until it's evenly abraded.

Aug 25, 2021 - 1:03:06 PM

766 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

To flatten the fingerboard, and later to get the frets to the same height, I cut open a belt sander belt, tack it to a very flat worktop, and push and pull it, side-to side, until it's evenly abraded.


That is a very good idea! I wish I thought of it before putting everything in. I will be sure to too keep it in mind in case I ever build another!

Sep 5, 2021 - 8:00:23 AM

766 posts since 5/22/2021

Hello all! New Updates!
I will tag everyone that has contributed. Sorry if I miss someone, that is just by human error: Ken LeVan mike gregory Helix Enfield1858 Don Smith1959 RBuddy wizofos jacot23 mbanza @buck the banjo player


Ok, so, in the past 2 weeks, a lot has happened with my banjo build, so I will describe about everything here.

After my last update of gluing Jason's Walnut veneer onto the Birch Banjo pot, I then proceeded to file down a top portion of the rim where the drum would slid down on, as it was a tad bit too wide and would have caused the drum to split under the tension.

Anyway, there is a photo of that in my last update.

Because I did a lot the past week, I will split each part of the build below


Part 1: the Final Pot Assembly
After filing and sanding the pot, I was able to secure (get) a set of 24 nuts, 24 hooks, 24 screws, 24 shoes, and a nice (probably steel) tension ring from a overseas cheap banjo.

Then I proceeded to drill the screw holes for the tension hooks. After doing all the mathematics, I calculated that the center of each screw hole would be 1-9/16 Inches down from the top rim of the pot, and then 11/8 inches apart from each other. It took me quite a while to measure these accurately and then put pencil marks, but the result was worth the time spent.

So, then once I marked where the holes would go, I then drilled them out and then put all the 96 banjo hook parts together. I used a drumhead @jacot23 gave me, and put the tension ring on top, and it looks, and sounds, pretty good! Photos at bottom of page. I am happy with not only the aesthetic look (which I don't care too much about), but also with the sound of it so far!


Part 2: The 5th String Peg

After finishing the banjo pot, I wanted to get a 5th string peg carved and a hole in the neck to hold it. I was quite unsure on what type of wood to use for the 5th string peg, but after breaking a hemlock (softwood) one while putting it into the neck, I decided to use a stronger hardwood, like blueberry wood, which I had on hand for a small tuner. So, I carved, whittled, and sanded a block of blueberry until the peg was nice and smooth. Then, I just drilled a hole where the 5th string would go into, and drilled a hole into the neck to hold it. Photos of this are shown at the bottom of this post.


Part 3: Completing the banjo Nut at the top of the neck

After a few days of consideration, I decided to use a piece of blueberry wood to carve the nut for the banjo. This took a while, but I had the time to sand it, smooth it, whittle it, etc... After carving a rectangular nut of blueberry wood, I then decided to carve into the neck a "groove" to hold this nut securely. See photos. Making this grove was pretty easy, as I just sawed in a depth with my scroll saw, at the right spot, and then whittled it down with my pocket knife. I am happy with the results!



Anyway, that's about it! I still have to complete one more thing before I can attach the neck to the pot, but it all seems to be going okay at this point!

As always, feedback, questions, (and criticism) :-) are appreciated! Let me know if you want some more photos of the process/pot/neck.

Russ A.
-Pennsylvania USA


Edited by - BeeEnvironment on 09/05/2021 08:03:03

Sep 5, 2021 - 8:22:43 AM

78 posts since 1/31/2020

Nice results and nice update; an enjoyable read. Thanks for sharing.

Sep 5, 2021 - 12:11:51 PM

58496 posts since 12/14/2005

Looking good!

Sep 5, 2021 - 12:49:43 PM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14821 posts since 8/30/2006

We so happy now. Fun , huh?

Sep 5, 2021 - 4:27:52 PM

766 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Fallingwater

Nice results and nice update; an enjoyable read. Thanks for sharing.


Thanks!

Sep 5, 2021 - 4:29:32 PM
likes this

766 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

Looking good!


Thanks! I hope it all works out! While it may be only playable for a while, or might not sound excellent by music standards, I have learned a out about woodworking, banjos, tools, and many other things I did not expect to learn this summer! Interesting how, while off school, I think I learned more about getting stuff done than last year's schooling!

Russ

Sep 5, 2021 - 4:30:28 PM

766 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

We so happy now. Fun , huh?


Yep! Having a great time! Although school started, I am still trying to get this completed within the coming weeks. I hope it all works out! Even if it does not, I learned a lot I am grateful for!

Russ

Sep 5, 2021 - 6:36:04 PM

58496 posts since 12/14/2005

On your NEXT banjo build, lay out a strip of masking tape, measure the pot circumference with a flexible (dressmaker's) tape, mark that on the tape, mark the center.
Then st the tailpiece on the center mark, mark how wide it is, mark odd 1/2 the heel width on each end of ends of the marked tape, and you can lay out the position for the shoes.

Sep 5, 2021 - 9:07:48 PM

493 posts since 10/18/2020

BeeEnvironment its looking good thanks for the very through updated spending the 5-6$$

just a side note for you to lock in to the back of your brain when I started my gourd banjo I was going to make my tuning pegs also, but I was able to find a set of five really nice rose wood Violin tuning pegs on EBay i think they were like 5-6 $$ by purchasing the five tuning pegs i feel it saved me a lot of frustration i attempted one tuning peg out of some snake wood i have laying around and decided i would be better off spending the 5-6$$ than carving the tuning pegs myself that snake wood is like trying to carve a rock it is extremely hard i did make my tail piece out of it though just something for you to consider for your next build

It does sound like you have had a great experience with your build though, and i have as well it has been fun I have learned a lot about what and what not to do for my next build 

Edited by - Don Smith1959 on 09/05/2021 21:24:14

Sep 6, 2021 - 6:20:06 AM
likes this

766 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

On your NEXT banjo build, lay out a strip of masking tape, measure the pot circumference with a flexible (dressmaker's) tape, mark that on the tape, mark the center.
Then st the tailpiece on the center mark, mark how wide it is, mark odd 1/2 the heel width on each end of ends of the marked tape, and you can lay out the position for the shoes.


Thanks for the advice! I will keep that in mind for when I build one in the future hopefully! That would save me some time. What I did was just use a plain measuring tape (flexible one), and measure 1 3/8 inches across. Took a while to do it accurately, but not all too long. 

I was thinking that, for a neck in case I ever build another banjo, that I will try using Walnut wood, because we got a lot of walnut trees here in SE Pennsylvania. I probably will also make a wood neck truss rod, to make it stronger. 

Sep 6, 2021 - 6:30:53 AM
likes this

766 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Don Smith1959

BeeEnvironment its looking good thanks for the very through updated spending the 5-6$$

just a side note for you to lock in to the back of your brain when I started my gourd banjo I was going to make my tuning pegs also, but I was able to find a set of five really nice rose wood Violin tuning pegs on EBay i think they were like 5-6 $$ by purchasing the five tuning pegs i feel it saved me a lot of frustration i attempted one tuning peg out of some snake wood i have laying around and decided i would be better off spending the 5-6$$ than carving the tuning pegs myself that snake wood is like trying to carve a rock it is extremely hard i did make my tail piece out of it though just something for you to consider for your next build

It does sound like you have had a great experience with your build though, and i have as well it has been fun I have learned a lot about what and what not to do for my next build 


Thank you for your advice! Yeah, I thought about using violin pegs, but I did not realize that until I carved out most of the pegs already. However, if these pegs don't work out, like if they break or are not good for the strings I use, then I will probably try buying a few violin pegs, as you said. 

Yeah, I looked online, and Snake wood seems beautiful, but hard like you said. I first used a dried old dead piece of Blueberry wood we had in our backyard, and it is a hardwood, but not too hard. Nice and firm, like a block of cheese, but not too firm that it could not be cut with a pocket Knife. The grain and natural finish of it, along with the color, also seems just to go along quite well with the White Pine neck. I might replace at some point the 2 hemlock tuners I made though, because they are quite soft as a softwood.

As for the tailpiece, I am still considering a few options. I was thinking of carving one out of the largest piece of blueberry wood I got, but then it would be a tad bit too small still.

I might have to buy a tailpiece in the end, so if anyone here has any recommendations for a Screw-in 5 string tailpiece. 

Sep 6, 2021 - 8:35:50 AM
likes this

58496 posts since 12/14/2005

You wanna home-built tailpiece?
Fork your home-made banjo!


Sep 17, 2021 - 1:27:18 PM

766 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

You wanna home-built tailpiece?
Fork your home-made banjo!


Not a bad idea! However, though, I was thinking that a Pete-Seeger style tailpiece would be quite nice for a banjo like this, but if that does not work, I do have a cheap overseas made tailpiece.

Sep 17, 2021 - 2:45:14 PM

58496 posts since 12/14/2005

B..b..b...but, according to Wisconsin's own (the Late) Senator Joe McCarthy....

"Pete Seeger was a dirty COMMIE, with a banjo head THIS wide!"

(Lord nose what secret Commie size his tailpiece was!!)

cheeky

Sep 17, 2021 - 3:08:28 PM
likes this

766 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

B..b..b...but, according to Wisconsin's own (the Late) Senator Joe McCarthy....

"Pete Seeger was a dirty COMMIE, with a banjo head THIS wide!"

(Lord nose what secret Commie size his tailpiece was!!)

cheeky


Hahahha! Has anyone here read his 1955 HUAC testimony when he was ordered to testify???

Here it is, just in case anyone was interested in reading it! It is VERY hard to find today, as most seem to have been destroyed, but this is the only 1955 testimony I have ever seen!

https://web.archive.org/web/20140204202220/http://www.peteseeger.net/HUAC.htm

Pete Seeger really kicks those fascists in the pansers!

Sep 18, 2021 - 5:06:20 PM

766 posts since 5/22/2021

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

you might consider putting violin rosin on the tuner shafts to stop them from backsliding when you tune it up.


Hey Ken!

That's a very good idea! I don't know how I will be able to fit the rosin block into the holes, but my brother plays violin, so I'll try asking him! That would help we a lot, because it would help the pegs turn a bit smoother I suppose.


You just rub the tuner shafts with it.


Ah Okay, thanks! I tried it, and it seems to help a tad, but the rosin keeps on breaking or not come off onto the pegs when I try it. It did help some though.

Russ


When you actually string the banjo, that would be the time to see whether the pegs slip—if you are planning to use steel strings, you may have other things to be concerned about besides slipping.

Just as an aside, there are a lot of trees down up here from the storm last week—heavy equipment including cranes are being used.  Any trees that went down in Rickett's glen would have to be removed by helicopters because of the sensitivity of the site.  I haven't heard anything about it, so that's good news.  Most of what goes down is dead ash trees and anything with trunk rot.


Hi Ken,

I just used some plain old (somewhat dirtied) Beeswax from my beekeeping supplies (from last year), and I had the idea of maybe using some of that on the tuners. The results have been fantastic! The pegs are a bit hard to turn, but not impossible at all. They seem to be sturdy and hold quite well, and when I notice a peg getting loose, I just apply a tad bit more of beeswax.

I, hopefully, will be able to let everyone here know in a few weeks how they work out with nylon strings! I don't think I will use steel strings, but I am still thinking about it.

Russ

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