Jan 19, 2014

Banjo Boys - Chapters 28 & 29

The shaped base of the neck determines the alignment of the banjo.
The recessed section accommodates the flesh hoop and tension hoop.
Clint has been up twice and I haven't taken a single picture or written a single word.  He's been working hard on his "Cherry Blossom" banjo.  It's going to be a spectacular instrument.  He finished his inlay in December and came to the shop on December 28th to cut his fret slots.  We couldn't find the miter box that we had built a year ago to cut fret slots, so we made a new one.  He finished cutting the slots and took some tools and sandpaper with him to finish shaping the neck at home.  When he got here yesterday, a lot of progress was evident:

  • He had finished sanding his cherry rim (with one Honduran rosewood edge and one ebony edge) and had applied several thin coats of polymerized tung oil.  It looks incredible!
  • He had drilled the holes for all his tensioning brackets,
  • He had finished shaping the neck and applied tung oil to it as well,
  • He had installed and almost finished his frets.
A polished spoon-hook
When Clint was here in December, I discovered that my neck had bowed due to the tightness of the frets in their fret slots.  The lateral pressure exerted by the tangs was substantial enough to cause the entire neck to develop a curve I could see if I looked down the length of the fretboard.  I removed those frets.  I also dismantled my Buick banjo to polish the spoon 
The jig used to shape the
 base of the neck
hooks where they exhibited burn marks from the brazing operation that attached the spoons to the square nuts needed to tighten the head.  

The main challenge for today was to set up the necessary jigs to shape the base of the neck where it fits against the rim.

The dowel stick blanks
We decided to start by cutting our dowel stick blanks out of the waste piece that results from cutting out the back profile of the neck.  By using this scrap piece this way, we ensure that the dowel rod has the same grain and pattern as the neck.  We set these aside and began the setup for the neck shaping.  

After about two hours of careful measuring and remeasuring, both necks are shaped.

The next step was to drill the pilot hole from the bottom of the rim through both sides of the rim and into the heel of the neck while holding the parts in perfect alignment.  We were able to complete this operation on both Clint's and my banjo.

I've ordered a new counterbore bit to enable us to cut the dowel hole in the neck and if it arrives by next weekend, we'll probably do that next.  Stay tuned...

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