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Oct 14, 2021 - 11:11:29 AM
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58448 posts since 12/14/2005

Why bother shaping a heel perfectly?

I mean, if you're just making a banjo for your own enjoyment?

Cut the end to the approximate shape, grease up the hanger bolts, put some waxed paper between the heel and the body, smoodge some epoxy putty onto the end of the neck, line it up right, let it set.

Edited by - mike gregory on 10/14/2021 11:14:40

Oct 14, 2021 - 11:12:37 AM
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YellowSkyBlueSun

Virgin Islands (U.S.)

437 posts since 5/11/2021

Why bother engraving a tailpiece?

Oct 14, 2021 - 11:21:17 AM
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ChunoTheDog

Canada

1122 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory

Why bother shaping a heel perfectly?

I mean, if you're just making a banjo for your own enjoyment?

Cut the end to the approximate shape, grease up the hanger bolts, put some waxed paper between the heel and the body, smoodge some epoxy putty onto the end of the neck, line it up right, let it set.


Not in my house! surprise

Oct 14, 2021 - 11:43:57 AM
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roydsjr

USA

749 posts since 5/17/2007

Mike, I've been amazed at what you have built over the years ! I've done some of the same type things that you have done. I've used a frying pan for a resonator, Made some D Tuners from Voltswagon Windshield shafts, similar to Cam styles. Made my own rims (block style), even made a resonator from solid wood, (too much work in that) . But I do make Necks Gibson style (when I have time). I just like Gibson style Banjos so I put in the extra work so if I sell them, they will bring more money. I still cut almost all my pearl inlays, (less the Mastertone Blocks). I enjoy doing it when I have time. I don't knock what you have done by no means! Keep up the good work!

Oct 14, 2021 - 12:16:24 PM
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58448 posts since 12/14/2005

To quote John Hartford:
------------------------------------------



"My art consists in doing what I enjoy.

And if others also enjoy it, well and good.
And if not, at least I haven't wasted my time."


------------------------------
So, carve and engrave and inlay as much or as little as your art suggests, or as much or as little as your client demands.

When I'm wanting to do something quick and simple, by Gish*, it will BE quick and simple.

*

(Lillian, of course!)

Oct 14, 2021 - 12:40:12 PM

885 posts since 10/4/2018

For me, it would be pride in good workmanship. Everyone has a different level they find acceptable, and some people have very low expectations of themselves...hence the term "rustic". If you look at the heels, you will never find a perfectly carved one. You will find some that have been worked on until an acceptable amount of beauty shows through. Some more than others.

Edited by - Good Buddy on 10/14/2021 12:42:26

Oct 14, 2021 - 1:08:06 PM
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512 posts since 5/29/2015

I think we need a new thread on the strenghts and weaknesses, pros and cons of various brands and types of epoxy putty.

Oct 14, 2021 - 2:52:10 PM
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9088 posts since 8/28/2013

I think a lot of time could be saved with epoxy putty, and perhaps Mike's idea would generate a more perfect fit. If it doesn't show, who cares? Shims, which do show, are many times used to do the same exact thing Mike is suggesting: getting a better fit of neck to pot so that angles come out right.

All in all, I think this is a brilliant approach to the very vexing problem of fitting a neck heel to a rim.

However, I think Banner Blue has a good point. It would be nice to know that a heel isn't going to crumble or loosen, or that the epoxy isn't too soft. I've only tried one epoxy paste so far, and wasn't totally satisfied. It dried too fast and left a rather rough and difficult-to-sand surface. There may have been a more suitable product, but there is no way to know besides reading the manufacturer's hype, which isn't always truthful. (Anyone who has tried to get rid of fire ants with commercial products knows how exaggerated manufacturer's claims tend to be).

Oct 14, 2021 - 3:19 PM

58448 posts since 12/14/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Banner Blue

I think we need a new thread on the strenghts and weaknesses, pros and cons of various brands and types of epoxy putty.


So, START one, already!!

Oct 14, 2021 - 5:20:23 PM

1595 posts since 5/19/2018

Mikes method of fitting the heel to the pot is extremely similar to what I do when I set a gun barrel. Works perfectly. No movement. No fuss. Very easy.

Should work fine for a banjo.

(One caveat....I’m not a luthier, and I’m not a gunsmith. Just like fiddling’ around with things when time allows.)

Oct 14, 2021 - 6:04:49 PM

2349 posts since 2/7/2008

West Systems Epoxy is available with a wide variety of hardeners to accommodate various open times and additives to thicken the epoxy for use as glue or filler.

There's a boatbuilding method called stitch and glue where pieces of plywood are "stitched" together using copper wire and the only joining method is to trowel a fillet of thickened epoxy where the pieces join. I'd think if it can hold together a boat, it could certainly act as a gap filler on a banjo neck.

Oct 14, 2021 - 6:08:53 PM

9088 posts since 8/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by mike gregory
quote:
Originally posted by Banner Blue

I think we need a new thread on the strenghts and weaknesses, pros and cons of various brands and types of epoxy putty.


So, START one, already!!


Okay, since I've actually used epoxy putty, I'll at least report on the one I tried, J-B Weld "Kwik Wood."

My main complaint was that it hardened so fast that I could barely get it applied before it cured itself.  Once it began to even get the least bit hard, it wouldn't stick to the wood I was attempting to fill. The successful applications were rough and did not sand easily.

The positives were that it mixes easily, isn't messy, and hardens to a nice light brown which seems to take color and finishing well (once it's smooth).

If I need an epoxy putty in the future, I may try something else, but it may be a long time before another project comes along that requires epoxy putty, and I still have more than enough of the "Kwik Wood" to last long someone needs it to fix any dents in my coffin.

Oct 14, 2021 - 8:29:15 PM

Bart Veerman

Canada

5068 posts since 1/5/2005

I've often thought about doing that to the next neck I make smiley

Oct 15, 2021 - 6:05:50 AM

9088 posts since 8/28/2013

This idea of using a hard filler for an easier fit is certainly not new. Back in the early 20th century the Knabe piano company used a similar method for ftting pin blocks to the front edge of the piano plate, which is very critical for keeping the piano in tune. Most companies would hand fit the pin block with rasps and such, which can be very tedious and can take hours.. Although Knabe didn't use epoxy as we know it, they used a filler which looked a bit like Bondo. It worked well, and was -probably a huge time saver.

Speaking of Bondo, that, too, could be used. Piano refinishers use it extensively for filling large dings and gouges. Of course, finishing Bondo to match the wood grain does require some extra effort and an artistic touch. Grain must be painted onto the patched area. That would not be a requirement for a neck heel, though.

Oct 15, 2021 - 12:15:35 PM

373 posts since 6/26/2011
Online Now

Mike, I have a feeling that your method is going to be received in a love it or hate it fashion (or "like it or lump it" as we say).
Personally I love it! What a practical, outside-the-box solution. Having read your posts for years now I think the same can be said of you, although I also wonder at your builds for their artistry! The coffee spoons idea you posted a while back was a stroke of genius.
Keep at it!
Bill.

Oct 15, 2021 - 1:37:53 PM

Alex Z

USA

4554 posts since 12/7/2006

"if you're just making a banjo for your own enjoyment"

No problem there.  

Playing a banjo for your own enjoyment can be different.  The material in between the neck and the pot can affect the sound.  More on some banjos, less on others.  Even for a simple shim of, say, .015", there's a difference in sound between using a credit card, or a flat steel gauge, or a piece of hardwood veneer, all the same .015."

So if you can hear the difference and you're finicky about sound, that's a reason not to use putty, gap filling glue, etc.  If you can't hear the difference or there's not enough of a difference to affect your enjoyment, then go for it.

Oct 15, 2021 - 6:54:49 PM

139 posts since 9/30/2009

I used epoxy putty to re-position a neck that had been badly "repaired" by a previous craftsperson. By making a well-fitted shim in this fashion, I was able to get a performer friend back on stage for a lot less time or money than would have been needed to do a total refit of the heel and dowel reset.

I use Apoxie Sculpt (that is the spelling) from Aves Studio for this and many other form fitting shims in my museum exhibit mountmaking business. You can get an accurate fit for irregular surfaces quite easily and it has good compressive strength.

I prefer to properly fit the heel on necks that I make, but this is a useful tool to have in the kit, especially for repair or R&D purposes. Excellent topic Mike.

Oct 15, 2021 - 8:28:01 PM

2349 posts since 2/7/2008

I can't say I've really thought this through, but I've often wondered why we don't just create a flat spot on the pot to attach the neck.

Oct 15, 2021 - 8:30:46 PM

2349 posts since 2/7/2008

By the way, if you want to use epoxy as a gap filler and want use your rim as a form, you can cover the rim with clear plastic packing tape. Epoxy doesn't stick to it.

Oct 15, 2021 - 10:55:05 PM
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Bart Veerman

Canada

5068 posts since 1/5/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Quickstep192

I can't say I've really thought this through, but I've often wondered why we don't just create a flat spot on the pot to attach the neck.


 

Memory failure right now for which one(s), but I've seen some banjos like that with their rims flattened where the neck attaches.

Oct 18, 2021 - 5:44:46 AM

1568 posts since 1/13/2006

I actually did something similar on the very first bluegrass neck I made, sometime around 1977 or so. It recently came back for some TLC and when I took it apart, it all came back to me....I had forgotten about doing that. I used Acraglass from Brownells at the time, commonly used to bed rifle barrels perfectly, and it uses a release agent to coat the part you don't want to stick to. It is very smooth, and very hard. Also can be a potentially messy process to say the least. Claydough or something similar can be used to try and contain it while its setting up. Don't think I would recommend it although its been 44 years since I tried it, and I am not up on what may be available now...

Oct 18, 2021 - 7:23:34 AM

1647 posts since 7/2/2007

"Why bother shaping a heel perfectly?

I mean, if you're just making a banjo for your own enjoyment?" Mike G

How about this for a reason?

Never pass up an opportunity to learn to do something right.

What you do and what you make is a reflection of you, your signature. Even an old beater on a canoe trip is going to be looked at by someone.

To me, nothing turns me off more than a woodworking project (especially instruments), with visible glue, wood putty, epoxy, etc where wood should be.

Oct 18, 2021 - 12:42:03 PM

Alex Z

USA

4554 posts since 12/7/2006

The open question is "What is 'right' ?"  

Is it in the eye of the beholder?  Can a different technique also be right?  What if it's different but not sloppy?  Who gets to judge the rightness?  Can there be no artistic or technological leap, because it would no longer be "right"?

Do I care what is a reflection of me, just to gain someone else's approval?

Maybe a molded interface of neck and pot will go on my "permanent record."  smiley

 

Seriously, this is a lighter conversation, about the merits of a molded interface on the fit and sound of a banjo.

Oct 18, 2021 - 9:46:46 PM

1647 posts since 7/2/2007

Sorry about that Alex, I apologize, I thought the opinion question was - "Why bother shaping a neck perfectly?" ...............when you can use something like epoxy to make it fit the rim.

Nothing wrong with experimenting, best of luck.

Please post pictures!

Cheers

Oct 19, 2021 - 8:45:46 AM

Alex Z

USA

4554 posts since 12/7/2006

No problem.

Mr. Mike comes up with some interesting situations, and the subsequent conversation can end up going in multiple directsions.

Oct 19, 2021 - 1:18:25 PM
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75133 posts since 5/9/2007

I like a great fit at the heel whether concentric or flat because Jimmy Cox once told me how critical this fit is to the tone and power.
On my Fox banjo I wanted a taller bridge,but didn't want to alter this historic banjo.
I put in an RK rim that I cut into at the heel to "let in" the lower heel half .040" while maintaining full wood contact.

I was at a Maine Bluegrass jam last Friday and this banjo got passed around for an hour and got good reviews.It starting to settle.

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