). For that reason, I try to cut the neck so the big variations in grain are down by the heel, where the wood is thicker and less likely to warp. Open comments and discussion are certainly welcomed by all, but do remember that this particular build topic is done with the newbie in mind. Maple can either be soft maple or rock maple. Cut the left long edge of the banjo, the one which has the fifth string "bump." You should squeeze out plenty of glue. Workpieces are trued on the jointer; Gluing (if two piece neck) The side profile is cut out, then the neck blank is left to cure a while. Depending on the thickness of the wood, it may also be necessary to add some “ears” to make up the width of the peghead. You can use a smaller block of wood if you glue "ears" on your peghead. First the raw lumber must be dimensioned to the proper sizes. The trick is to plan your cuts so that you've always got a flat side of wood against the table of the band saw. Cut your banjo's neck from a piece of 2X4 lumber. The pre-tensioned head comes ready to use, no guesswork or broken heads to worry about. In the end you should end up with a block which is at least 3 1/2 inches wide, 3" thick, and 28 long, and a little larger would be better. The neck heel dowel stick hole is drilled. It helps if you have a plan of attack. 2.25″ thick is the very minimum acceptable. I don't always follow the same procedure. For reasons of stability, I prefer to cut the maple boards from a wide board (1 7/8 x 6 1/4 x 29). The very minimum dimensions for a neck workpiece whose scale length is to be 25.5″ is about 27″ long. Most people who start building banjo necks have a difficult time fitting the heel of a banjo neck properly to a banjo pot. A completely blank neck is pretty intimidating. I use my ShopSmith in horizontal drill press mode, but you can use any drill press by clamping the neck to a block of wood. usr="calicoman"; Like most builders, I begin with the peghead. STEP TWO: LAYING OUT THE PATTERN The only thing you can't do is to be is in a big hurry, and if you're that kind of person, you might as well take up a faster-paced hobby, such as fishing or chess. I make my workpiece a little longer, wider, and thicker than the previous measurements just to have a little extra. The neck heel radius is cut. The exterior laminations that show usually match the neck. In order to make a "typical" banjo neck out of a block of solid wood, you would need a block about 3 1/2" wide, 3" thick, and 28" long, and just to give yourself a little elbow room, you might want something a bit larger. Using a brad point drill bit and a drill press, drill the holes for the tuning pegs. How to Build Your Own Banjo See Update at Bottom of Page Save Money and Accomplish Something This addition to the banjo set-up pages is in response to many e-mails asking how to build a banjo. You might find it helpful to trace the pattern on both sides, but if you do, take careful measurements and line up the template accurately. Use a brad point bit and drill the hole the correct size from the start. Any one of several woods can be used to make a banjo although maple seems to be the most common. however, for my first instrument I used a piece of sandpaper wound around a pencil, and that worked fine. Then, it gets a rim cap that typically matches the fingerboard and peghead. You can work on the body or start inlaying the fingerboard while you're waiting. This is also the first step in buying a banjo. The neck has no internal reinforcement, but the combination of hardwood and synthetic strings reduces the chance of deformation. Click on the pictures for larger view. The hole for the fifth string is a bit trickier. Save the scap wood. It isn't as stable as mahogany, but doesn't move quite as much as maple. Also, it is wise to cut the neck at least 1/16" larger than the pencil line. Swirls and curls in the grain can look very interesting, but they do make the neck less stable. Your email address will not be shared. After the workpiece is trimmed to suitable starting dimensions the process of making all the various features of the banjo neck begins. Questions or comments? It is stiffer than mahogany and soft maple, but not quite as stiff as rock maple. Using rasps, sandpaper, and maybe a drawknife, get the neck very close to its final shape. No matter which truss rod you use, install it according to the supplied instructions. Even if the rest of the neck is excited perfectly, this cut can make or break an otherwise great banjo. How to Build a Bluegrass-Style Five-String Banjo: Whether it's jazz, rock, blues, or folk, we Americans love our music. STEP FIVE: DRILLING THE TUNING PEG HOLES The initial width of the workpiece should be equal to the depth of the banjo rim. In order to combat the problems with stability, I generally laminate the neck from three pieces of wood: two thick pieces of maple (1 7/8 x 3 x 29 ) and a thin (1/8" x 3 x 29) strip of walnut, glued with the walnut sandwiched between the maple. One solid piece of wood may be used to make the workpiece that will eventually become the banjo neck. Two pieces may also be glued together to make the dimensions. The neck is made with an extended dowel stick, reminiscent of the early Minstrel banjos. I accent the glue joint of a two piece banjo neck by adding a thin strip of veneer between the two pieces. It also increases the angle of the strings across the bridge. Nearly all stringed instruments have the neck attached at an angle. This pattern can be made from thin material, like plexi-glass, thin plywood, or even cardboard. Put the neck aside for at least a month. I use two pieces of wood make the workpiece and “book-match” because it looks so nice. Trace the pattern onto your hunk of wood. If you're a patient or at least a persistent person, you can do a really nice job. Carefully examine the block. Spread a heavy layer of alaphatic resin glue on the surfaces, and clamp the whole together with lots of even pressure. Cherry is another option, with properties similar to maple. How to Make a Banjo Neck Pattern – Side Profile. In addition to these instructions, you should also purchase Don MacRostie's Mastertone banjo blueprint and Roger Siminoff's book, Constructing a 5-String Banjo. It is more stable than maple, which is good, but it is not as stiff as maple, which is not so good. I use a Stew-Mac Hot Rod and that requires a simple slot which can be cut on the table saw or router table. This page last updated 05/25/03 The thickness of the workpiece corresponds to the width of the fingerboard at its widest place. 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