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Sep 18, 2021 - 7:54:14 PM

lanemb

USA

214 posts since 3/11/2018

I’ve resisted doing this for some time but finally diving in to build probably a couple of banjos. I have read post after post and watched as many videos as possible. Still have lots of questions and decisions to make but the quest is on.

I’m not new to woodworking. I did professional woodturning on the side for many years. I’m not new to planning as I spent my career producing mechanical drawings for others to work to. Being a “tool-a-holic” I have most of what I need for a build and what I don’t have is available in our villages fully outfitted shop.

All that said I sure have lots of more research to do and decisions to make.

Wood choices. I am fortunate to have some 6/4 mahogany my father purchased in the 70s (big wide pieces). I think I’ll do laminated necks with a maple center but still looking at this. I’ll use a segmented rim turned to suit the components I eventually acquire.

Still need to do more research on which type of truss rod to use and how to properly secure it in the groove.

Today I took neck dimension off one of my favorite profiles. I’ll be creating templates as soon as I make a few more design decisions. Probably use 20degree peghead angle. Still researching flat vs curved fretboard. Since I don’t have a curved fretboard I sorta want to try one.

Still researching fretboards and inlay. Hard to decide on copying vintage or developing fully custom. Purchasing a pre-inlayed fretboard is tempting but I haven’t found any yet with radius boards.

Components! Wow! Tough decisions ahead. I’m not one to skimp on material as I want a really nice product from my hard labor.

I really like the sound of a Dannik rim I have in one of my banjos. Had no idea they were so expensive and also hard to find. This will be a hard decision. I’m thinking one banjo will be an archtop and one flathead and not necessarily from the same supplier. Surely open for suggestions here.

One piece vs two piece flange? Does it really make any difference in sound? Who has the best parts? Contemplating one gold finish but sorta prefer nickel.

Haven’t even started planning the resonator yet.

I must admit the only part that scares me so far is cutting and properly fitting the neck to the rim but I have plenty of time to work out that setup. I’ll post updates as I go but you may forget about this before I get my first progress report in. I’m a little slow! Wish me luck and patience!

Sep 18, 2021 - 11:17:29 PM

94 posts since 10/5/2019

Sounds like fun. Something I would love to do someday. Keep us updated with pictures!

Sep 19, 2021 - 4:53:47 AM
like this

Fathand

Canada

11794 posts since 2/7/2008

Be careful to not over analyze and over plan or you may never actually build. I have had that problem in the past.

(Honduran) Mahogany makes very stable necks. The low profile 2 way truss rods work great and are cheap on amazon.  Cut the right size slot and the fretboard secures it. I use a 1/4" round nose end mill and do them on my milling machine. This removes the minimal wood amount.

The steeper your headstock angle, the easier it breaks off. A 15 degree angle is plenty.

You can sand the radius in an inlaid fretboard but check with the seller about inlay depth first.

First Quality makes excellent tone rings at reasonable price.

A one piece flange is easier to do than 2 piece and is usually considered more desireable.

I do the heel cut on a board that pivots with the heel against a sanding drum. I use a milling nachine but you could rig it on a drill press.


Edited by - Fathand on 09/19/2021 04:54:24

Sep 19, 2021 - 6:19:46 AM
likes this

497 posts since 5/29/2015

My first build was with an 8' piece of 4x4 cedar fence post that i bought at one of the big box stores that was (almost) free of knots. I worked out the issues (practice cuts, order of cuts, etc) with it, then used the good stuff.

Sep 19, 2021 - 7:34:45 AM
Players Union Member

wizofos

USA

6141 posts since 8/19/2012

quote:
Originally posted by Banner Blue

My first build was with an 8' piece of 4x4 cedar fence post that i bought at one of the big box stores that was (almost) free of knots. I worked out the issues (practice cuts, order of cuts, etc) with it, then used the good stuff.


I agree that you might want to build a prototype to work out some of your ideas and techniques.  My first build was some scrap maple flooring and a piece of scrap walnut all that had been sitting in my wood pile for years. I have been using Rudy's (member on BHO) aluminum bar instead of an adjustable truss rod. After building a few necks that way I picked up an old Silvertone long neck and accidentally found that they all had steel rods instead of adjustable truss rods and the 50+ year old neck is still straight and true.

One thing you want to be careful about is don't use any wood species that are on the CITES or Endangered Species lists.  Consider RIchlite for a fretboard instead of Ebony. I have been using Black Walnut for fretboards on back packer guitars since it is commonly available around here. I try to use only locally available woods that I can get from a local sawyer, maple, walnut, hickory, ash. I don't particularly like to work with oak since the grain is kinda squirrelly.

Good Luck and have fun.

Sep 19, 2021 - 7:48:32 AM

580 posts since 5/22/2021

I am now trying to build a long neck banjo from, well, sorta scratch! I am hoping to finish it soon, but because I have no professional woodworking equipment, I had to use my carving knife A TON, but I have been enjoying every second of it!

Here it is: https://www.banjohangout.org/topic/376502/1

I wish you the best of luck!

Russ

Sep 19, 2021 - 11:13:14 AM

lanemb

USA

214 posts since 3/11/2018

I fully intend to test first on a cheap piece of wood as I go especially with all the neck cuts.

Sep 19, 2021 - 7:04:06 PM

Fathand

Canada

11794 posts since 2/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by lanemb

I fully intend to test first on a cheap piece of wood as I go especially with all the neck cuts.


You can use old 2x4 scraps or other dimensional lumber to test setups on routers etc. they are cheap and easy to cut.

If you want a wood similar to your Mahogany, Khaya, sometimes called African Mahogany is similar to work with and reasonably priced, about $7 board foot in Canada. You can actually build decent instruments with it, necks included. Red Maple and Cherry are probably cheaper, less stable but stable enough.

I don't feel walnut is hard enough for a fretboard on a steel strung instrument. Hard ( Sugar) Maple is used on a lot of Telecasters but there are other reasonably priced woods like Padauk that is harder and darker looking.

Edited by - Fathand on 09/19/2021 19:06:02

Sep 19, 2021 - 7:07:48 PM

Fathand

Canada

11794 posts since 2/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

I am now trying to build a long neck banjo from, well, sorta scratch! I am hoping to finish it soon, but because I have no professional woodworking equipment, I had to use my carving knife A TON, but I have been enjoying every second of it!

Here it is: https://www.banjohangout.org/topic/376502/1

I wish you the best of luck!

Russ


A Four in Hand rasp can be bought for under $10 and can perform the bulk of carving a neck.

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