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Aug 8, 2022 - 2:09:56 PM
303 posts since 11/22/2009

Those of you who have made a wooden armrest how did you fit it to your banjo?

Aug 8, 2022 - 2:25:25 PM
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11553 posts since 6/5/2011
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Neither of the metal armrests that came with my two modestly priced banjos had a radius to match the pot, and one of 'em had some decidedly unattractive embossing/engraving/???.  I fixed the radius/radii by cutting and then spot welding a small kerf.  I used small screws to hold the wooden "cover" in place, but I expect an epoxy glue or a double-sided tape would also work.

Fwiw, I'm a putterer, not a woodworker.  The armrest on the right is made from laminated popsicle sticks.... each one personally licked by me, my wife, and/or a grandchild.


Aug 8, 2022 - 3:07:25 PM

1406 posts since 1/9/2012

None of these are likely to what you want, but, in my old age, I like to show off my handiwork. I built the long-neck from scratch when I was 16. The arm rest, inspired by a drawing in Pete Seeger's book, is held on my two long screws that double as tension hooks. The elegant one is on a Hartel Ashborn. Proud of my design (square nuts and all), I sent him a photo. He was so pleased, he copied it for Michael Miles, who was tired of the welt in his arm from his Hartel Ashborn. (He was pleased, too.) I extended the threading on the original hooks, and used the homemade square nuts to fasten the brass gizmos (brackets) that are screwed and epoxied into the bottom of the wood. (Jim Hartel did a much neater job of it.) I made something very like it for the pictured Prust fretless. The 7" "piccolele" needed an armrest as well. On the inner surface, there are two strips of brass, straddling the half-holes drilled for the hooks, and screwed onto the wood. The two central hooks go between the brass and the wood, and the whole thing is a friction fit.

Aug 8, 2022 - 4:10:06 PM
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50 posts since 12/23/2019

Zach Hoyt makes very nice wooden armrests. He has written articles describing construction.

Aug 8, 2022 - 4:15:27 PM

1406 posts since 1/9/2012

Colin Vance taps two holes in the tension ring and attaches arm rests with machine screws. Some examples are on .

Aug 8, 2022 - 4:16:58 PM

12346 posts since 10/27/2006

Balsam Banjo Works/Pigsah wooden rests are easy to fit.

Aug 8, 2022 - 5:12:40 PM
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14863 posts since 6/29/2005

Mine are now laminated wood, and attached with a normal kind of cleat and a hex socket round head bolt.

Aug 9, 2022 - 6:45:49 AM
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15841 posts since 8/30/2006

Popsicle sticks and tongue depressors are quarter sawn lumber, so an attractive and unique armrest is just what I expect from you.
Good work. Next, please try some laminated vertical grain bridges. You can alternate colors. I have rainbow tongue depressors from Ace Hardware. 

I guess Ken Levan changed his design after calling out Zach Hoyt of all people for infringing on his "DESIGN."

That's great looking work, Ken Levan, keep up the good work.

I try to use a piece of wood from the build. Like Sassafras, Black Cherry, Oak, Grapefruit and so on.

I remove the nickel plating from the top of the metal armrest and epoxy the wooden cover in place. This allows ergonomic shaping for the care of your precious and one-time-only tendons.

I think Gold Tone's "engraved" armrests and other makers, too, are a stamping of light pressure before plating with nickel and or chrome.

I built one armrest cover with a skunk stripe of Rosewood, Maple and then Black Walnut.

Show us some inlays, engraved or otherwise.

I am not allergic to nickel, I have to wear a cutoff athletic sock on my arm for Arizona, "nice sock."

Remember salt from your body needs to be removed carefully from guitars and banjo armrests, and can degrade coatings.

Go with God, she knows what she's doing. How come so many kinds of trees, beetles and people? Dang, banjos are ALL different,

Edited by - Helix on 08/09/2022 06:58:20

Aug 9, 2022 - 6:55:45 AM
Players Union Member



15841 posts since 8/30/2006

I also like 18 hooks for intermediates.

Gold Tone is the only one right now that fit both 18 and 24 hooks, for their armrests.

PETOB = People for the Ethical Treatment of Banjos. The Wagatarians know, they have great ears.

Edited by - Helix on 08/09/2022 07:00:35

Aug 9, 2022 - 7:36:33 AM

14863 posts since 6/29/2005

I did develop a wooden armrest in 2012 at the request of a customer who has a nickel allergy.  Nickel is the most common allergen.

I based the design on the work of the Finnish industrial designer Tapio Wirkkala, a hero of mine, and called it the "Tapio" armrest.  People still request it, and I willmake them, but I abandoned it because it sits high and I wanted something lighter and flatter, besides, it had been copied enough as to lose its interest to me.

This prompted the laminated design I previously showed which still retains some of the "Tapio" shadow lines and highlights but is flatter.

In terms of this thread, it attaches by a cleat exactly like the laminated one.

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Aug 9, 2022 - 9:09:04 AM
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15841 posts since 8/30/2006

That's certainly nice looking.

I hope no one overtightens one.

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