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Sep 13, 2021 - 10:01:21 AM

4621 posts since 9/7/2009

Bill Rickard was working on making single ply maple rims about 10 years ago. Did it work out to be feasible? Here's a lnk with a picture from 2010.

https://rickardbanjo.wordpress.com/

Sep 13, 2021 - 12:06:18 PM

jfb

USA

2449 posts since 9/30/2004

Amazing that he could cold roll that thickness without fracture of the wood!
Very similar concept of the jelly roll except the form started at around 3:8 and then tapers to near nothing, the taper being entirely on the form rather than the wood itself. I think Bill Porters photo is of the Kennedy rig, but I will take a look. It was intended to go thru a steam box prior to bending.

Sep 13, 2021 - 1:48:16 PM
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14019 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by John Yerxa

Ken

Thanks for the reply, very helpful, and nice to see some alternatative techniques.

We do have a lathe at the shed (actually 2), but I have no skill on it and not sure how I would attach a roughed in rim, need another jig?

You obviously have more confidence in bandsaw technique than I do (and the bandage on your finger gives me pause!). I'm attracted to Dan's octagon method, but haven't tried it yet.

I was not aware of the saf t planer, will look into that, and thanks for the Rickard connection.

Now I'm intrigued by the idea of using alternate contrasting stock for the layup.

Love your splines, how do you cut the channels (?table saw?)


The bandage on my finger, actually an aluminum splint, was because I broke it with a rental brush chipper trying to clear a jam—they are dangerous machines—ever see "Fargo"?

Anyway, you cut the splines with a table saw, easy enough:

I mount the rim blank on to the lathe with a faceplate—you can make one from plywood or phenolic plastic, as seen in the red one, whatever you have that won't warp, that gets screwed onto a faceplate that belongs to the lathe.

You screw the faceplate onto the rim, taking care to mark which holes, since you might remove and reattach the rim many times in the course of fitting the tone ring, finishing the rim, etc. using the same screw holes assures perfect registration every time and doesn't mar the rim as a chuck invariably does—I just use drywall screws and washers.

Then you turn the rim to whatever configuration you want and fit the tonering. You can finish the rim and polish it while mounted to the faceplate

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/13/2021 13:51:43

Sep 13, 2021 - 2:10:24 PM
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8007 posts since 1/7/2005

There are numerous ways to skin a cat, and the method Ken demonstrates is as good as any. A good disc sander is a wonderful tool to add to your shop. They are usually modestly priced, can do a lot of tasks. And if you are careful, the accuracy can be amazing.
If you are building a clawhammer banjo, with a simple metal hoop, you don't really need to use a tone ring at all for contouring the rim. Bluegrass banjos with their heavy, machined tone rings require fine accuracy when mating them to the wooden rim, but they can be a quick and easy way to use them as a pattern with a flush cutting bit on your router.
Banjo building is a great way to learn problem solving, and developing skill at using your tools for tasks they were not exactly designed for. Of course, experiments can lead to dings and bandages once in a while. It sort of comes with the territory. :->
DD

Sep 14, 2021 - 4:27:12 AM
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512 posts since 5/29/2015

Sep 14, 2021 - 5:31:33 AM

14019 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Dan Drabek

There are numerous ways to skin a cat, and the method Ken demonstrates is as good as any. A good disc sander is a wonderful tool to add to your shop. They are usually modestly priced, can do a lot of tasks. And if you are careful, the accuracy can be amazing.
If you are building a clawhammer banjo, with a simple metal hoop, you don't really need to use a tone ring at all for contouring the rim. Bluegrass banjos with their heavy, machined tone rings require fine accuracy when mating them to the wooden rim, but they can be a quick and easy way to use them as a pattern with a flush cutting bit on your router.
Banjo building is a great way to learn problem solving, and developing skill at using your tools for tasks they were not exactly designed for. Of course, experiments can lead to dings and bandages once in a while. It sort of comes with the territory. :->
DD


Woodworkers trained the pattern-making and design model-making tradition consider the disk sander to be a shaping tool, and we use 36 or 40 grit paper on them—I get special order hook&loop 40 grit disks from Klingspor.  Some pattern shops have 20" ones, and you can get paper for those.

Sep 14, 2021 - 5:34:03 AM

John Yerxa

Australia

28 posts since 9/13/2021

Great tips guys, thanks for the encouragement.

Today I cut 24 hexagon pieces for a prototype, will have a go at gluing up tomorrow.

Ken, if I want to make a faceplate for mounting to lathe, should I make it exactly the same diameter as the pot? Or slightly smaller or larger? I talked to a lathe guy at the shed today, he might be willing to help.

Also, if I'm not using a tone ring, how would you shape the top edge of the pot? Or could you make a brass rod/ring to mount in a channel? I know nothing about bending brass.

Also, is there an optimal scale length for an 11" pot? I only have the small pot Stewarts to reference.

Told you I'd have a lot of questions, appreciate the feedback!

John

Sep 14, 2021 - 6:00:51 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14788 posts since 8/30/2006

When clamping your parts, it is wise to use small pieces of wood under the clamp so you don't get divots in your work.

The examples being shown are latitudinal grain.

I suggest a rolled brass flat bar tone ring, both the back and the bottom of the flatbar contact the rim, and by doing that, it helps "vintage" the rim as you play.

I am intrigued by the community tool shed.

Sep 14, 2021 - 6:23:34 AM

9089 posts since 8/28/2013

The idea of a "community tool shed" scares me. I've worked in shops with shared tools, and there was always at least one person who didn't know or didn't care how to use tools properly. Too many times, when I need a sander, a drill press, or a bandsaw, I had to repair it first, and there were times when a job went unfinished for days while parts for a particular machine were being shipped.

I also recall Jr. High School woodshop, when all the large "bully" types got first dibs on the limited number of decent tools, due simply to their intimidating size. I think I finished every assignment late because, at sixty-five pounds, I was by far the smallest person in class. There was no way I could get anyone to relinquish a sharp plane or a saw with actual teeth.

Sep 14, 2021 - 6:46:58 AM

John Yerxa

Australia

28 posts since 9/13/2021

It's a thing here in Oz, called the "Men's Sheds", started as partly a men's health kind of thing.

mensshed.org/

Our shed has a pretty good governance/maintenance structure, but yes, still sometimes issues with keeping tools working well. It's not the most efficient place to work some days, but I don't have room at home for much in the way of big machines, so put up with it. We have some nice tools, a saw stop table, 200mm jointer/planer, mitre saw, thicknesser, drum sander, belt sander, router table, drill press, Tormek, and large and small bandsaws - all pretty good quality. We do a fair bit of community projects as well as our own stuff, so it's a bit of a balance.

Sep 14, 2021 - 7:15:37 AM
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512 posts since 5/29/2015

George and I have access to the Greenville Woodworkers Guild which offers an expansive workshop with tools. Where these sorts of groups exist, it is a solution to those with limited money or space but want to contribute to solving the world wide shortage of banjos.

https://www.greenvillewoodworkers.com/Our-Shop

Sep 14, 2021 - 8:09:18 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14788 posts since 8/30/2006

This community shed concept is people 
Advanced community watches out for each other


We have discussed the need for a neck building shared profit group before,
Thanks for seeking, everybody needs some once in a while
Lathing is not necessary
A rim blank in a vise with wooden jaw plates can be brought to .001 tolerance by using a 50 grit belt sander belt cut open like a shoe shine rag

The “brick” rims are some of the easiest to build
My concern is that the middle tier pieces have glue on 4 sides because they are “layups”
Layups are like a brick sidewalk 34.55” long x 3” wide x 3/4?
They are inherently weak and unstable thus Levan’s brilliant biscuits

Orhers have recommended flipping and rotating the pieces.
That would be what cabinetmakers do with all tabletops, cabinet fronts and Carousel Horses, etc; the pieces push against each other for a century

All these rims use the same number of board feet 

If you are curious, you could research the minimal cost of using unpainted graphite reinforced Cedar pencils at a 45 degree angle
The build up rims are masonry arch forms. The birdsbeak is used in CNC tapered Mahogany sailboat masts that are stronger than steel.  Porch columns are buildups 

So please let us know what you choose 


 

Edited by - Helix on 09/14/2021 08:17:43

Sep 14, 2021 - 12:06:19 PM
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14019 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by John Yerxa

Great tips guys, thanks for the encouragement.

Today I cut 24 hexagon pieces for a prototype, will have a go at gluing up tomorrow.

Ken, if I want to make a faceplate for mounting to lathe, should I make it exactly the same diameter as the pot? Or slightly smaller or larger? I talked to a lathe guy at the shed today, he might be willing to help.

Also, if I'm not using a tone ring, how would you shape the top edge of the pot? Or could you make a brass rod/ring to mount in a channel? I know nothing about bending brass.

Also, is there an optimal scale length for an 11" pot? I only have the small pot Stewarts to reference.

Told you I'd have a lot of questions, appreciate the feedback!

John


The best is to make the faceplate the same diameter as the inside diameter of the tone ring skirt you will use.  If you make it bigger, it just gets turned down when you are cutting the rabbet for the tone ring.

To measure diameters of rims while turning them, you use the circumference, which is the diameter x 3.1416—make a tape of that length, and you can wrap it around the rim as you are turning it until the ends meet.

It's 3.1416 times more accurate than trying to measure the

as for the scale length, that normally ranges from 27", which is Vega scale, to 26.55", which is phi, the golden mean, to 26 3/8", which is Gibson pre war, to 26 1/4", very standard today, and my default and 25.5", which is a popular "short scale", and anything in between.  It's something you have to figure out. 

In absence of any preconcieved notion or preference, 26 1/4" is a reasonable way to go.

Sep 14, 2021 - 8:23:55 PM

John Yerxa

Australia

28 posts since 9/13/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Banner Blue

George and I have access to the Greenville Woodworkers Guild which offers an expansive workshop with tools. Where these sorts of groups exist, it is a solution to those with limited money or space but want to contribute to solving the world wide shortage of banjos.

https://www.greenvillewoodworkers.com/Our-Shop

 

"world wide shortage of banjos" ---I love it. We wil never rest until there's enough to issue one to every newborn child! (apologies to Charles Schultz)

Your shop looks amazing, way more spacious and ordered than our little shed.


Sep 15, 2021 - 5:05:52 AM

14019 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Banner Blue

George and I have access to the Greenville Woodworkers Guild which offers an expansive workshop with tools. Where these sorts of groups exist, it is a solution to those with limited money or space but want to contribute to solving the world wide shortage of banjos.

https://www.greenvillewoodworkers.com/Our-Shop

 

 


Pretty spectacular shop!  Do all members working there have to clean up at the end of each day?

There was a similar thing (but not as spacious) at Fort Jackson SC, when I was in the Army, where some people were making large furniture pieces—I made a spice cabinet while I was briefly stationed there. 

The Airbase at Ramstein in Germany had a very large (and clean) fully equipped auto shop where troops stationed there could work on their cars with very knowledgeable people there to advise you. I was stationed nearby in Landstuhl and did a valve job on my MG.

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/15/2021 05:07:05

Sep 15, 2021 - 5:36:08 AM

6551 posts since 9/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by Helix

Linear thinkers need sequitur, ain't no argument, stop it. 
But but throwing good rims won’t make them sound better
Let the players decide

Mr Levan and I have been corresponding since 2008, we all wish to talk about banjos please 
Sorry for the drift

 I am leaning towards using the wooden octagon sandwich type of pot construction. I wanted to find out, though, if there was any difference in sound or durability in that construction type or if the bent lamination yields any better results.

The octagon in my opinion is very good for flat construction, very strong and durable and maintains that throughout proportional    Rim sizes.  They sound like banjos, easy to build

some of the 120+ yr old Columbias and Stewarts are latitudinal grain 2 tier block rims and are still playing round.

we saw great VEGA banjo rims @ 7 or 8 laminations.

differences in sound start splintering opinion because of tone ring types

my opinion is based on jamming and getting to listen to every approach from old time to bluegrass equipment 

Lammies are limited, even woodies clip frequencies but were easy to mass produce, my opinion

 

 

 

 

 


I'm not sure what a "Columbia" banjo is, but if you are saying that there are S. S. Stewart banjos built with block rims then please post examples as I have never seen one.

Sep 15, 2021 - 9:35:18 AM

9089 posts since 8/28/2013

"If you are curious, you could research the minimal cost of using unpainted graphite reinforced Cedar pencils at a 45 degree angle"

Personally, I wouldn't bother. The graphite in pencils is not at all the same as the carbon graphite used to reinforce necks, rims, golf clubs, or anything else. It's just a soft yet brittle material deemed useful for rubbing off onto paper, wood, or other things. It's actually the cedar in a pencil that has any strength, and it doesn't have much.

Sep 16, 2021 - 3:49:09 AM
Players Union Member

Helix

USA

14788 posts since 8/30/2006

If you guys have the time, go build some banjo.

Sep 16, 2021 - 5:47:09 PM
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14019 posts since 6/29/2005

On this thread, we’ve seen posts about different pot constructions, all of which are based around a cylindrical rim made by one of several methods.

Some people have seen this, but it’s worth including in this discussion of pot construction methods.

A while back, 2016, to be exact, I wondered if there was any way to make a banjo pot without a conventional rim at all—some other kind of structure besides a cylindrical tube that would support and tighten the head and allow a neck to be attached—as unlike a standard pot as I could make it while still functioning as one.

Would it sound like a banjo?

The idea I decided to explore was to try to channel the sound out sideways instead of down.

Here’s what it looks like: in a graphic from my website—definitely not a standard pot, although it is 11”.

The whole purpose was that I wanted to hear what it would sound like, and I mentioned earlier on this thread that I have some player banjos here that I use for benchmarks— one of these is a 1927 Granada with a completely original pot, the other is a Vega Tu-Ba-Phone conversion to a longneck from a professional pot which has a full thickness bracket band and an original Vegalon head.
I recorded these one after the other with the same mike and setup.  It’s a blind comparison, and the three banjos are not in any particular order, so maybe you can tell which is which.
three banjos test


Sep 16, 2021 - 8:03:36 PM
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3987 posts since 5/12/2010

quote:
Originally posted by rmcdow

Glenn Miller here on the hangout has a rim construction he calls the Viking rim that has the advantage of pegs that lock together the block sections, and lock together the layers of block sections. I don't know what the sound quality difference is, but when it comes to gluing up parts like this, pegs really help to register everything together and make for tight glue joints if the parts are cut accurately.


I bought a quantity of those "Viking" rim kits from Glen, and built some good banjos with them.

At the time I was focusing on making banjos with thick rims, but have since been focused on thinner rims for my banjos.

I still have some of those Viking kits on the shelf, and they do make a very solid block rim. 

What I have are for making 12" black walnut rims. If anyone is interested in these I would sell them since I probably won't be using them. 

Sep 17, 2021 - 5:16:26 AM
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5743 posts since 12/20/2005

On Ken’s comparison I have only listened to it on my iPhone but I think B is the Granada.
Whatever the outcome nicely played on all 3.

Sep 17, 2021 - 6:03:14 AM

PaulRF

Australia

3256 posts since 2/1/2012
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Leslie R

On Ken’s comparison I have only listened to it on my iPhone but I think B is the Granada.
Whatever the outcome nicely played on all 3.


I agree, nicely played but that is such an amazing looking rim.  Would love to see more details of it and its build.  Thanks for posting that Ken.

 

 

Sep 17, 2021 - 9:30:15 AM

14019 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Leslie R

On Ken’s comparison I have only listened to it on my iPhone but I think B is the Granada.
Whatever the outcome nicely played on all 3.


Thanks, Leslie,

I thought more people would be interested in which is which.

"A" is the Tubaphone, "B" is the one I built, and "C" is the Granada.  They all sound like banjos.  I think I could improve the sound quite a bit by putting a different head on it, but I had to use the see-through head for obvious reasons.

Sep 17, 2021 - 11:32:22 AM
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14019 posts since 6/29/2005

quote:
Originally posted by PaulRF
quote:
Originally posted by Leslie R

On Ken’s comparison I have only listened to it on my iPhone but I think B is the Granada.
Whatever the outcome nicely played on all 3.


I agree, nicely played but that is such an amazing looking rim.  Would love to see more details of it and its build.  Thanks for posting that Ken.

 

 


Thanks, Paul.

As I said earlier, "B" is the one on the left.  A number of people who have seen it and heard it in person have commented that it would be a good instrument for recording sessions because it has a very clean sound.

I would be happy to post pictures and info for those who are interested, but inasmuch as I made a pretty thorough thread in Feb 2015, which ought to be in the archive, I don't want to redo the whole thing.

I think it's not good form to post the same picture over and over again, particularly if it's not in response to a question.

When I made this, my reason was to see if if you needed an actual "rim" and to hear what it would sound like.

Something like this is much more difficult to make than a regular banjo, and it looks so unusual it would never be accepted or be a saleable product—from a marketing standpoint, it unfortunately falls into the category of "novelty banjos"—internal resonators and sound reflectors of one kind of another, mechanical gizmos and contrivances—certainly part of the history of the instrument, but not where  want to go in my banjo building practice, but it was a lot of fun to build it, and it's a great art piece in my studio.

Someone was here a couple of years ago, saw it and said "Wow! I didn't have any idea that's what banjos look like inside".

Edited by - Ken LeVan on 09/17/2021 11:34:25

Sep 19, 2021 - 12:58:48 AM

John Yerxa

Australia

28 posts since 9/13/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Ken LeVan
quote:
Originally posted by Leslie R

On Ken’s comparison I have only listened to it on my iPhone but I think B is the Granada.
Whatever the outcome nicely played on all 3.


Thanks, Leslie,

I thought more people would be interested in which is which.

"A" is the Tubaphone, "B" is the one I built, and "C" is the Granada.  They all sound like banjos.  I think I could improve the sound quite a bit by putting a different head on it, but I had to use the see-through head for obvious reasons.

 


I was interested, and listened, but couldn't begin to guess. Probably a combination of MP3, cheap speakers, and my unsophisticated ears, but they all sounded like banjos. Goes to my bias, which is that the single most important factor in how any instrument sounds is the player! (the nut behind the wheel:)

Truly an amazing and unique looking pot though, Ken.

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