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Mar 3, 2024 - 3:21:19 PM
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125 posts since 3/3/2008

Made a Banjo fretboard on my Shapeoko CNC this weekend using Black and White Ebony wood from Exotic Lumber in Annapolis, MD. I'm planning to write this up and make the files for this next banjo (11" 5-string resonator banjo with TBD tone ring -- possibly Padauk to keep it lightweight) freely available on my website (not up yet but I'm working on it),  This started out as a 2.05" x 2" x 24" piece of wood that didn't look like much till I cut it.  Bits were a 1/16" downcut, 1/8" downcut, and 0.5mm upcut (for the fret slots).  I stabilized the couple of minor cracks at the ends with CA glue.  



Mar 3, 2024 - 4:34:30 PM
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210 posts since 7/27/2007

That looks to be the jewel of a spanking nice banjo. I'll be looking for the files.

Mar 3, 2024 - 5:36:13 PM

125 posts since 3/3/2008

I started out with the previous banjo doing videos of everything with the idea of doing videos of each part and providing files but I quickly found that video editing isn't my strength nor do I enjoy doing it.  Its been much more manageable to do articles with photos so I'll be doing that for this next build. 

The fretboard is the first part that I have done on it.

I'll probably be waiting on the neck for a couple of weeks for the roasted maple to acclimate to my shop humidity.  I'll probably do the fretboard inlay and headstock overlay next. 

I need to order some hardware too.  I really like the Rickard stuff (especially the tuners and tail pieces) but would probably switch to something USA made if of similar quality.  I looked at Balsam but got the impression that they cater to open back builders more.

Mar 3, 2024 - 6:39:20 PM

2515 posts since 2/7/2008

Chris, That’s fantastic! I love that you did stopped frets. (That is what I see there, right?)

Rickard parts are unparalleled quality and Bill is a fantastic guy.

I once had a guy make a pot and it was supposed to have a Rickard Tone ring, but the builder had substituted a lower quality tone ring. I called Bill to see if the proper Rickard would fit the rim I had gotten and explained the situation. He was familiar with the builder and Bill offered to give the the proper ring at no charge, just to put things right. That cemented my opinion of him forever.

Mar 3, 2024 - 7:27:27 PM

125 posts since 3/3/2008

Yes, they are blind fret slots.  This is my 2nd banjo with these.  I did hemispherical ends on stainless steel frets last time.  Haven't decided on this one - I got a pound of the Stew Mac gold fretwire also - that might go on this one.

Yeah, I really liked Craig Evans documentary on Bill Rickard and his story.  My last banjo used his hardware (about $500 of it not including the tone ring).  It is great stuff though.  I'll use his tuners in any case - I have about 5 sets of them on my banjos now.

Edited by - euler357 on 03/03/2024 19:28:38

Mar 3, 2024 - 7:30:08 PM



210 posts since 7/27/2007

What is the desired effect of roasting your Maple?

Mar 3, 2024 - 7:33:34 PM

125 posts since 3/3/2008

I like the Roasted maple for stability, sound (bridges especially), and color (looks cool without staining).  We did testing on several bridge woods and roasted maple, osage orange, and roasted walnut were the most popular.

Mar 3, 2024 - 7:54:28 PM



210 posts since 7/27/2007

It seems the roasting is similar to what others are doing. For instance, Veritas uses a form in chisel handles, "The hard maple handle has been torrefied, a heating process that changes the structure of the wood at the cellular level, stabilizing it against swelling and shrinkage caused by humidity changes." The stability seems a big driver for roasting.

I would assume you can do a one-piece neck with higher confidence in a straight structure.

Are you getting a brighter sound out of the maple? The Walnut?

I get the "stained" effect you would see in Maple. Does it make the walnut over uniform, erase some of the nuances of coloration?

Mar 4, 2024 - 6:19:54 AM

119 posts since 11/3/2015

Chris -

You do beautiful work and are a priceless asset to the banjo community.

Mar 4, 2024 - 7:58:59 AM

125 posts since 3/3/2008

I'm not sure that it's just brighter but it's definitely different.

Here is a video of the tests of the different materials for bridges

Thanks for the positive comment on my work - I'm finding a lot of what doesn't work and sharing my results when interesting (at least to me).

Mar 4, 2024 - 8:00:07 AM

125 posts since 3/3/2008

Also, it does seem to lessen the variation (splotchiness) in walnut heartwood but I have done extensive testing.

Mar 7, 2024 - 4:54:06 AM

125 posts since 3/3/2008

Originally posted by euler357

Also, it does seem to lessen the variation (splotchiness) in walnut heartwood but I have not done extensive testing.

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