December banjos and an archtop guitar

I am three weeks late in posting this update about December, but that’s life sometimes. I started off the month with a batch of 5 banjos. #181 was the only custom build, a Boucher-styled design with some more modern elements. This was also my first foray into making hooks and shoes, which were fun to experiment with. The customer wanted to use wing nuts, as they are canonical for this banjo style, and I wanted to use heavier brass for the hooks since there were only to be 8 to tension a 12″ Renaissance head. The hooks ended up being 3/16″ brass rod which I was able to anneal and bend fairly easily, if not always neatly, and which I then threaded with a 10-32 die. The shoes I cut out on the bandsaw and drilled on the drill press and the Shopsmith, and then sanded to their final shape. I thought about trying to refine the shape so they were more graceful but doubted my ability to make them consistent. This banjo has cherry flush frets and a truss rod that is under a layer of cherry on the bottom of the ebony fretboard. The customer applied a stain and oil finish to the banjo and did a very nice job of it, and was kind enough to send me pictures and let me include them in this post. The pale pictures are what it looked like before shipping.


Banjos 182 through 185 were stock banjos and are shown on the Banjos page. My last project of the year during the Christmas break was to make another archtop guitar to replace my first one which was sold last spring. This guitar is shown on the Guitars page and is the reason why I am so late in posting this. I spent a few days working on the finish and didn’t get the guitar set up till the 8th of January, and then I found that the cheap tuners I had bought a couple of years ago on eBay were not good, and the knobs rattled when the D string was played. I ordered a set of Gotoh tuners that looked identical from Stew-Mac, but the mail has been overwhelmed lately and the tuners got delayed, and were not delivered till a couple of days ago. I have been working on a batch of 7 banjos which are getting their finish applied today, and while the 4th coat was drying I had time to get the tuners swapped out, make a quick video and get the guitar up on the website.

The 7 banjos will all be set up by the end of the month, and I’ll be making more banjos in February, and possibly a fiddle if I get caught up enough. I’ll plan to post the next monthly report in a more timely way, in 9 or 10 days from now.

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