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Aug 19, 2022 - 12:26:14 PM
1002 posts since 2/21/2011

FWIW: I tighten my head, after getting the t-hoop level and snugging it by hand, with my Dewalt 20 volt drill/driver at a torque setting of 1, 2 and then 3. It seems to get the job done.

Aug 19, 2022 - 12:32:12 PM
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martyjoe

Ireland

197 posts since 3/24/2020

If that works for you, happy days. I found that some nuts can have a different stiffness on their threads, so I much prefer to use a drum dial.

Aug 19, 2022 - 12:40:01 PM
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10013 posts since 8/28/2013

I am always reluctant to use power tools to tighten banjo parts for the same reason martyjoe states. Differing torques are needed for different hooks because of corrosion, nicks in the threading, and manufacturing flaws. I get a much better feel for what may be happening when I do things by hand.

Power tools are great for many purposes, but finesse is something a power tool generally lacks.

Aug 19, 2022 - 1:24:49 PM

112 posts since 3/7/2011

I echo the opinion of the others. I much prefer using a drum dial, it is really the only way, unless you are an old master who has the gift of tuning by ear and feel , to get an accurate and even tension on the head. I have been a mechanic all my life, thread conditions as others have stated can greatly affect the "feel" of the torque you are applying.

Aug 19, 2022 - 2:07:18 PM

1971 posts since 5/19/2018

Never used a drum dial, but I really should get one. Then again, I don’t use those fancy electronic tuners. Have a bunch of A=440 forks that I got years ago. At this point they have been dropped, and banged around so much I doubt they are still at 440. I’m at the point in life that I tune the banjo to the ringing in my ears...

Using a power drill to tighten the head kind of scares me. Those things have a lot of torque, and you could easily wind up busting something very quick. I get why you use one, tightening a couple of dozen bolts can be a chore and an annoyance, but not so much of one if you wind up bending your tension hoop, popping the head or worse.

I appreciate the ingenuity though.

Aug 19, 2022 - 2:15:26 PM
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rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014

I have a torque driver that can be set to ounce inches, and have tried using it on several banjos when tightening down the heads. Checking with the drum dial, I found that there was basically no relationship between the torque used on the nut and the tension on the head. After a couple of experiments, including lubrication of the nuts so that they might be more uniform in torque, I stopped using this method of tightening down the head to even tension. The lubrication helped to some extent, but there was still a wide range of torque settings that would give the same drum head tension. I'd also be careful about using power tools to tighten the nuts, as I have sheared off a hook just with hand tightening it, and a power tool setting isn't going to give you a good feeling of what you are doing.

Aug 19, 2022 - 2:37:04 PM

1002 posts since 2/21/2011

I appreciate all of your opinions. It sounds like I need a drum dial.

Aug 19, 2022 - 2:40:28 PM

ChunoTheDog

Canada

1704 posts since 8/9/2019

quote:
Originally posted by 1xsculler

FWIW: I tighten my head, after getting the t-hoop level and snugging it by hand, with my Dewalt 20 volt drill/driver at a torque setting of 1, 2 and then 3. It seems to get the job done.


This sounds like the worst idea ever.

Aug 19, 2022 - 3:24:17 PM

Alex Z

USA

4930 posts since 12/7/2006

" It seems to get the job done."

Apparently, it worked OK in practice!  smiley

Aug 19, 2022 - 4:45:56 PM

3183 posts since 2/18/2009

I have used an 18v DeWalt (older version of the 20v) to quickly screw on head bolts when I'm putting together multiple banjos at once. I get them close to tight with the drill but do the final turn or two by hand so I can feel the tension. I've never tried using the clutch, I just keep mine in drill mode.

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Aug 19, 2022 - 6:01:25 PM

Bill H

USA

1973 posts since 11/7/2010

I don't use a 20 volt drill for 2 1/2 inch screws installing cabinets for fear of overdriving and causing damage.

Aug 19, 2022 - 6:14:29 PM
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4461 posts since 10/13/2005

Some would argue that the best tool for a banjo is one of those roller drums they use to compact gravel.... banjered

Aug 19, 2022 - 6:20:09 PM

rmcdow

USA

1203 posts since 11/8/2014

I have an 18 volt Makita, was drilling with a 5/8" cobalt drill bit into some really hard wood (cumuru). After it went through the other side, I reversed the drill to get the bit out, and it completely sheared/broke off the drill bit about half way up from the point. It almost took off my thumb when the Makita rotated before it came out of my hand and pegged onto the table. Those cordless drills have a lot of torque, and I am a lot more careful with mine after that. It was a brand new drill bit, I had only drilled three holes in the 1" wood before that one. I wouldn't trust it near a banjo.

Edited by - rmcdow on 08/19/2022 18:20:54

Aug 19, 2022 - 7:22:59 PM

3183 posts since 2/18/2009

I use my 18v DeWalt for any job that doesn't require a drill press. Things like putting in spikes, drilling 5th tuner holes, drilling for neck yokes and endbolts, and such. It's also nice for tapping brass because it has a brake so it stops when I let go of the trigger. It certainly has more power than I need for most banjo jobs, but with practice it's pretty easy to control it and keep it from going too far.

Aug 19, 2022 - 8:45:54 PM

1002 posts since 2/21/2011

The adjustable torque feature on my Dewalt 20 volt driver/drill allows one go from almost zero torque to full drill mode with about 15 increments in between. You can destroy stuff with it if you want to but you can make it gentle as a lamb too.
The best point made here is the inconsistent torque values based on various thread friction.
I need a drum dial to be safe.

Aug 19, 2022 - 9:21:30 PM

martyjoe

Ireland

197 posts since 3/24/2020

quote:
Originally posted by 1xsculler

The adjustable torque feature on my Dewalt 20 volt driver/drill allows one go from almost zero torque to full drill mode with about 15 increments in between. You can destroy stuff with it if you want to but you can make it gentle as a lamb too.
The best point made here is the inconsistent torque values based on various thread friction.
I need a drum dial to be safe.


You don't really need a drum dial to be safe but they are handy if you want your banjo to sound good. 

Aug 20, 2022 - 6:44:47 AM

76650 posts since 5/9/2007

I start with a level hoop and use 1/4 turns on each nut,consecutively,heel to heel.
This draws the hoop down evenly onto the head.

I listen for the G# or A note and like to show folks how to use a dime and 6" ruler to get a G# head note.My banjo sounds real good with great low rumbles and "clear as a bell" highs.


 

Edited by - steve davis on 08/20/2022 06:50:08

Aug 20, 2022 - 7:25:57 AM

10013 posts since 8/28/2013

That "dime and six inch ruler method works quite well.

However, I've found that each banjo has its foibles, and final head tension must be obtained subtly, which means carefully and by hand.

Aug 21, 2022 - 6:32:51 AM

76650 posts since 5/9/2007

I don't know anything about foibles...I just know what sounds good.

Aug 21, 2022 - 6:44:02 AM

76650 posts since 5/9/2007

A G# head note is simply a good stable platform for balanced voicing over the entire neck.
The rest is up to the player.

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