Making an armrest for banjo #44

In January I did a series of posts detailing the construction of banjo #44, which is to be the prize in a free drawing on BanjoHangout coming soon.  I got to thinking that I should make an armrest for it, so I did a little bit ago but didn’t get it posted till now.  Step 1 was to find a suitable piece of wood, at least 1.5″ thick to make the side of the armrest and draw the outer curve on it using the handy template for 12″ banjos.

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Once I cut the outside I drew a line about 1/4″ inside it, using my finger as a depth gauge to make a relatively uniform thickness.

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Then I cut it off and sanded the inside smooth on the spindle sander, since it is less accessible once the top goes on.

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Then I used the template again to draw the shape of the top on another piece of cherry.

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I cut it out, sliced it to about 1/4″ thick and glued it onto the side.  When I came back the next day I sanded the outside of the assembly smooth, and then used the tomato paste can to draw the curves.  I then used a 1/4″ roundover bit in the router table to radius the edge where the top and side come together.  This makes me nervous so I do it very carefully.

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Then I took it back to the bandsaw and cut off the bulk of the waste at the corners, using a block of wood to support the armrest.

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Then I used the spindle sander to clean up the inside curves on the sides and the inner edge of the top and the disc sander to smooth out everything else.  I did a bit with a random orbit sander and then some hand sanding at the end to get everything smooth.  Then I drilled a hole 3/8″ up from the bottom edge and used a countersink to make it match the screw.  I took it out to the loft and applied the Tru Oil in 5 coats over the next 2 days.

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Once the finishing was done I brought it back to the shop and made the bracket from 1/8″x1/2″ brass left over from making tension hoops.  I bent it to match the curve of the rim, made a notch in each end to fit over each hook with the belt sander, drilled a hole in the middle and tapped it for an 8-32 screw.  I cut the extra length off the screw and sanded the end smooth.

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Then I mounted it on the banjo.  It takes an hour or so to do the work of making an armrest, spread out over a few days.

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