Building an internal resonator banjo, part 1

I am doing another banjo giveaway on BanjoHangout which I have been told is scheduled to start on February 13th.  This time the banjo will be a 12″ walnut internal resonator banjo with one of my shop-made Whyte Laydie type tone rings and brass hardware.  Last January I did a series here and also posted at BHO on the construction of banjo #44, detailing as many of the steps as possible and showing pictures.  This time I am planning to mainly highlight the aspects of this banjo that are different from the last one, rather than duplicating the explanations of the steps that are the same.  I started by taking a piece of walnut and cutting three neck layers out of it.  The walnut is 3/4″ thick.  I paid attention to the grain orientation since I wanted the grain lines to radiate out through the neck roughly equally.  This makes the visible grain lines of the finished neck more consistently spaced.  One thing I like about 3 piece necks is that they enable the use of a square socket for the dowel stick.   As you can see in the picture all I did was to cut a rectangular section out of the heel of the middle piece.  The cutout is angled close to 3 degrees to match the heel cut which is made later.

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I applied glue to both sides of the center piece and glued the three together.  I used a chisel to scrape out the glue that was squeezed into the dowel stick pocket.

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In the background of this picture you can see the strips that will become the rims.  I cut them and glued them as shown last time, and hung them up.  I only have 6 band clamps so the last one had to wait.

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I have 4 layers for the inner rim and 3 for the outer, since the tone ring is tall enough to eliminate a layer of blocks.   I got to work on the neck once it was dry and did all the usual neck things to it, as shown previously.  One great convenience of the square dowe stick mortise is that I can put a skinny clamp into it and use it to hold the neck in place while cutting the truss rod pocket and later the tension hoop ledge.  I’ll post again as soon as there’s more to show.  I’ve got a couple of other custom banjos to build at the same time, so progress may be a bit slow.


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