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Archive for the ‘Vine banjo’ Category

On a bit of vacation, so no posts. I have a couple of orders to fill when I get back and I stocked up on some great maple and I am looking forward to building the new banjos. Until then….. it is time to surf!

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The vine banjo is finished all but a few small details, while I am waiting for the case to be shipped, I tried to take a few pictures to post here. I am in no way a photographer, and I did my best to clean up the photos in photoshop. But for now these pictures will have to suffice. Regardless, I am quite happy with the look and feel of the banjo. It has a very good sound, crisper than walnut, but still enough bass. The finish feels very smooth when you play and looks deep and lustrous. This banjo strung right up with a minimum of adjustment and plays like a dream.

here is a neck close-up

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I am in my second day of applying finish to the rose vine banjo.  I am using KTM-9 (a water based finish) that I think will really enhance the grain and show it off and so I am spraying it on. I just applied my 6th coat and I have four more to do today to finish the application. I am using a touch-up automotive spray gun at 20 psi. I found that if I step into the sunlight behind my shop I can really see how well the application is going on. When it all sprayed then it has to cure for a week before it can be buffed out.

the neck and dowel stick are looking pretty good too…

so about a week from today, I get to buff the whole thing out, then put it together and string it up!  yeah…

In the meantime we’re going to go see the Dodgers vs. the Giants….go Dodgers!

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I finished fretting the maple banjo, and I am glad….whew!  There was a lot of inlay and setting the frets into that inlay made me really nervous. I could just see the inlay cracking or pieces flying off, but what I did was, I took a file and very slightly relieved the edges of the inlay with a small chamfer, I figured the tang of the fret would slide in easier and it worked! All the frets set nicely and nothing was damaged. I smoothed the edges with a file and then sanded them with a sanding block and 400 grit paper. all fretted up!

I finished sanded the neck and added the first coat of oil, man the grain really pops! I have a couple of pictures, but they can’t really capture the iridescence of the wood. The pot and the dowel stick are already oiled so I will stick a few pictures of them up here soon.

here are some  close-ups

of course what makes it so pretty also makes it hard to carve, that grain seemed to change direction every half inch!

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I finished the vine inlay on the fingerboard, whew! it was the most complicated I have undertaken so far. I am glad it is over. Re-cutting the fret slots through the inlay was scary.

fingerboard ready for profiling and gluing.

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Inlaying the vine banjo, there is a butterfly on the back of the peghead, and a rose on the front.

peghead rose

commemorative butterfly on back of peghead

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The neck carving is almost done!  I placed the neck and pot together to get a feel for how the banjo is going to look and I like the way it is coming out.

the carved heel is boat style, similar to a Dobson heel, which I feel works well with the carving

A few shots of the heel carving, keep in mind I still have quite a bit to do to clean it up.

there is still quite a bit of shaping and detail to add.

I kind of like the way the boat heel flows out of the pot.

The customer requested somewhere on the banjo to have a butterfly (to commemorate a friend who passed away). I found a nice photo of a Monarch and it seemed to fit quite nicely on the back of the peghead.

I glued a picture of a butterfly to a piece of abalone and cut out the shape. I am going to use yellow mother of pearl inside the wings.

Lots of detail work to do but it’s getting there!

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my high tech steamer

Got to work on the neck, steam bent some veneer for the peghead .

After steaming and bending, the veneer is glued on and the peghead shaped.

veneer in place

now some shaping…

finish shaping the peghead

when this is done, shaping and carving of the neck and heel will begin. Stay tuned.

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I finished the pot, and fit a shop-made silicon bronze tone ring to it. I have been raising the grain with alcohol and finish sanding any little areas that look like there are marks, or tool marks. I will then seal it with a thin coat of shellac and put it aside until the neck is completed.

here is a close up of the wood layering

with the tone ring

and then the head and brass tension hoop. This banjo will get all brass hardware.

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Yay! I finished carving the dowel stick, added a brass ferrule and then coated it with some light amber shellac to seal it  and hopefully allow it to stain evenly. I’ll wait to stain it along with the entire banjo so the colors will match. So I put it aside and got back to work on the neck and pot.

Here is the pot where it will eventually go……

I had some wood hanging around the shop left over from an earlier banjo, so I turned a bowl out of some walnut, this bowl has been sitting on the bench for a year, so it seemed like a good day to finish it.

a pretty little piece of local walnut.

I have to blame Stu Mason for this carving kick.....

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