Building banjo #66, part 4

Tonight I cut the fret slots using an adapted Worx mini saw with a .023″ blade, and a homemade fixture.  I’ve been using this setup for about a year.  It’s faster than slotting by hand and also enables me to make partial slots in the area of the scoop, so that there is no unfilled bit of slot showing after the frets go in.

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I had to cut the first slot twice since the first time it wasn’t quite deep enough, so that is why that slot looks slightly wider than the others.

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The rest of the fretting process I use is still the same as last year’ journal shows.  I moved on to the resonator back and started by trying to find something that looked right in my walnut boxes.  I found a piece that had a very mild curl and some color streaks and marked out two quarters, by first drawing around the inner and outer rims and then using a framing square to make a 90 degree angle between the ends at 6″ on both sides of the square.

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I did some of the cutting out on the bandsaw and used the scroll saw for the inner parts so as not to waste any of the rest of the board.  With a 10 TPI blade it cuts pretty fast, though of course not like the bandsaw.  I cut a bit outside the marks to leave some margin for alignment.  Then I put the rip fence on the bandsaw and sliced each piece in half, so I could bookmatch the two sides of the resonator back.  I really like having the rip fence on this bandsaw, it’s self-aligning and as long as I remember to keep my feed speed down and use a sharp blade I can get quite accurate cuts.

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Then I drew a centerline along the pot back, after ensuring it was flat on the 12″ sanding disc on the Shopsmith.  I used the disc sander also to true up the ends of the back pieces and fine tune them till they fit tightly together all the way around.   This required several trips back and forth from the sander to the pot till it all looked right.

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I made sure the back overhung the sides all the way around and then began applying glue and clamps.  When I got done it looked like this:

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