Jan 6, 2013

Banjo Boys, Chapter 4...

Clint is the student; Bob is the teacher; Pearl inlay is the subject
Today the Banjo Boys convened for another session.  We had two goals:  Fix a couple of troublesome fret slots and get started with some pearl inlay if time allowed.  We pretty much accomplished our goals.

Monty's Rose inlay
Monty and Clint arrived around 10:30.  Our first order of business was to fix the problem fret slots.  We tried a couple different ways of cutting razor-thin slices of wood to glue into the slots.  Then we glued them in and left them while we went for lunch.  When we returned, we began the delicate process of trimming off the excess wood prior to re-cutting the fret slots.  Then we turned to the subject of the pearl inlay that will decorate the Dynaflow banjos.

Monty has acquired a beautiful mother of pearl rose that he plans to inlay in his head stock.  It arrived this week.  Now all we have to figure out is how to cut out the receiving surface for such an ornate and delicate shape.  We will rout out a shallow depression in the wood into which the pearl is to be glued.  Then the pearl will be glued in place after which it will be sanded flush with the wood's surface.  The challenge is to get the edges of the depression in the wood to match the edges of the inlay with no perceptible gap.

In the meantime, Clint had designed a couple of gorgeous barn swallows to include on Sarah's banjo.  He got frustrated trying to cut the tiny pieces of pearl and trying to get all the edges to meet precisely.  He contacted a gentleman who sells precision-cut mother of pearl (M.O.P. to those in the trade), and asked him if he could craft the birds if Clint sent him image files.  The fellow (whose business is in Viet Nam) sent him a price and Clint gave him the go-ahead.  Friday, the man sent Clint a picture of the finished product.  Based on the picture, I think the finished banjo neck is going to be stunning:

Clint's barn swallows rendered in pearl and abalone
The Trishield decoration

My decoration is going to be a little more mundane.  I plan to place the so-called Buick trishield on my headstock and spell out the word B-U-I-C-K down the fretboard punctuated by a pearl star at each end.  Using the endless resources of eBay, I acquired the interior decoration from the back seat of a 1971 Buick Le Sabre and plan to use it as the head stock decoration.  I intend to use a so-called hole saw to cut the edge of a recess in the walnut to a depth of about 1/8".  Then I'll chisel out or router cut the inside of the circle to create the recess to hold the medallion.  The idea is similar to a coin or medallion album as shown here:
The recessed medallion mount

The same company that made Monty's rose also makes individual M.O.P. letters (in multiple fonts, no less!), so I ordered my letters from them and those were shipped on Friday.  As part of today's session, I held class on inlay cutting.  My first star was the demonstration item.  I'm not totally happy with it and may try to redo it at a later session.  For now, it is what it is.
The first inlay...

The Banjo Boys continue to pursue the goal of the best possible Dynaflow-based banjos in the Western World!

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