October instruments

At the beginning of October I put the finishing touches on a couple of mandolins that I was building to have in stock.  They are now on the Mandolins page.

Banjo #124 is my first longneck banjo, and the first with a bracket band.  It also has a Whyte Laydie type tone ring so it is quite heavy by my standards, somewhat over 8 pounds.  It was a custom job for someone in Ireland.  Unfortunately the shipping was delayed for a few days due to an outage on the USPS site that affected international shipping labels, but the customer was very nice about it.  I made a short video demo of this banjo:


While I was building #124 I was also working on a mountain banjo-baritone uke hybrid with a minstrel style peghead.   This was my first real mountain banjo pot, and I put the first skin on too tight and had to try again, but that time it seemed to be about the right tension.  This instrument was shipped to the customer for finishing, it’s cherry but the color doesn’t show up a lot in the pictures.  I tried to do a coffee stain on the first (failed) head and a tea stain on the second, shown in the picture, but neither came out very dark.


My last project for October was to build a left handed parlor guitar.  This was my first curly maple guitar and the first to be ordered with no binding on the body.  I accidentally put the side dots in the wrong side of the neck but the customer pointed out the error and now it has dots in both sides, unfortunately.  The soundboard is torrefied spruce, and the rest of the wood is persimmon.


On the 30th I began work on another cherry chicken head fiddle, and I have plans to build a batch of four banjos early in November too.  I don’t have any custom jobs lined up for November.  This is the first time in a long while that I have caught up, as it were.  I don’t mind as I have a couple of months worth of work making stock instruments that I have been putting off, but I’ll be happy to do custom jobs too if any come along.

One of the banjos will be a curly maple C scale (according to my current plan, but it might change) which will be the prize in a free drawing on the home page of BanjoHangout starting in late November if all goes according to plan.



September instruments

I didn’t post an August update because I didn’t complete any instruments in August this year.  I started a guitar-bodied walnut octave mandolin and a cherry A5 type mandolin then, but I only had them about halfway built at the end of the month.  I just put the last coat of finish on both of them today, and at the time of this writing on October 6 I hope to have them set up and listed on the Mandolins page of this site by the end of this week.

In September my first project was to build three banjos.  #119 was a custom 12″ cherry left handed banjo with a slotted peghead.


Banjo #120 was a stock curly maple banjo, it is shown on the Banjos page.

#121 was a custom 10″ A scale banjo made from walnut and with a calfskin head.  This is only the second or third skin head I have stretched myself, and I  still need to work on making the cut edge look neat, but the head seemed to be working when I shipped the banjo out and I haven’t heard yet that it has had a problem.


#s 122 and 123 are shown on the Banjos page.  I made them together, along with a 5+1 neck from walnut with a curly maple stripe and binding that I made to fit an old pot that a customer sent.



Back in the shop again…..

I got back from my trip Sunday afternoon and just got back into the shop for a bit tonight, but I’ll be back to my normal evening work schedule starting tomorrow.  I posted a trip report and pictures again on the Adirondack Forum website, if you’d like to see them please follow the link below.  I have an A5 mandolin and an octave mandolin that are coming together in the shop now, and a couple of banjo rims to also make before getting back to building custom instruments on the first of September.




I’ll be away August 19-25

I’m taking my annual vacation this week, bicycling to the Adirondacks, as I have been doing for 10 years now.  I will be out of reach of communication during most of my trip but I will reply to emails as soon as possible on my return. 29176461016_b363e36894_o (1)

July instruments

Banjo #117 was a custom ash 12″ with a Whyte Laydie type tone ring and a Dobson heel.


#118 was a stock banjo, it can be seen on the Banjos page.

My last two projects were in the works at once. Fiddle #22 is a cherry chicken head and is shown on the Fiddles page, and I made a custom ash neck for a vintage banjo pot that was mailed to me.


My plan for August is to build a cherry A5 style mandolin and a walnut guitar bodied octave mandolin, and a banjo or two if time permits, as I will be gone for a week in the latter part of August as usual.

June instruments

June was another low-production month since I spent a number of evenings working on the roof instead of in the shop, but now the roof job is done and I am back up to full speed, such as it is.  My first June job was a custom 5+1 neck fitted to a very unusual old pot for a customer.



My last custom job for June was an OM size guitar made from cherry and western red cedar with a jatoba fretboard.  It was made for a Banjo Hangout member who was kind enough to make a post about it on BHO, which I will link to below:



Later in June I made a neck for an old banjo pot I got at the flea market.  I didn’t list it here on my web site but it is for sale on the classified listings on BHO at the link below.


Banjos 115 and 116 were stock banjos, I began them in June but didn’t get them completed till early July, and they are both shown on the Banjos page.

May banjos

This May was not one of my more productive months in the workshop, but sometimes that’s how it goes.  My first project was banjo #113, a custom walnut short scale with a WL/Electric type tone ring.


My other completed project was banjo #114, which was a custom curly maple A scale with hickory accents and the same kind of tone ring.


I spent the last 10 days of May working on a banjo neck and starting a guitar, both of which will appear in the June update after they are done.  I had hoped to get the neck done in May before starting the guitar but I caught a cold and lost some time.

April instruments

I am very late writing this update, but I can still remember a lot of what happened in April.   My first project was banjo #111, which is another walnut C scale and can be seen on the Banjos page.

I made two squareneck resonator guitars back in 2014 or so, and the second one sold last summer.  I had been meaning to make another one for a while and I finally got it done in April.  This is my first walnut resonator and my first bound headstock.  It’s shown on the Guitars page.  I made a primitive go-bar press while I was building this resonator and used it for several of the steps, and I am very pleased with how much easier it makes the clamping of large assemblies.  I didn’t think to take any pictures of it in use but I’ll take one next time I use it.

I made two necks in April, the first was an asymmetrical slothead design.


The second neck was a shorter scale length for a uniquely designed mountain banjo pot and was supplied unfinished.


My last project completed in April was a walnut custom banjo (#112) with a fatter neck and a few other alterations from what I  normally build.


March instruments

My first jobs in March were continued from the last part of February.  I made a mountain dulcimer (#45) and a banjo (#108) from the gym floor wood, for the customer who brought the wood.  The dulcimer is a bit of a departure for me as it is the first I have made with a sloped headstock and vertical tuners and a separate fretboard.  The banjo is a slightly modified version of the Bluestem Mountain Banjo Nouveau plan which was designed and made available online by Randy Cordle, who goes by Rudy on Banjo Hangout.  This was my first mountain banjo of any kind.  Both instruments were shipped unfinished but set up.


My next job was to make a new neck for a banjo I built a year ago.  The customer decided he wanted a slightly longer scale length, two more frets and a more central bridge location.  He sent the pot back to me to be fitted with the new neck.


Next came banjo #109, an ash banjo with hickory trim and persimmon fretboard.  This was another half-fretless.  It’s the first banjo I’ve made in a while to have nickel and aluminum hardware rather than brass.  I have a piece of very curly ash that I cut from for the peghead overlay, and the neck is mildly curly which I didn’t find out till I ran the wood through the planer to clean it up ready for use.



My last job in March was banjo #110, which is similar to #101 except that it is fretless and has a John Balch goat skin head and a paddle peghead with a coin inlaid.


February instruments

My first job in February was making a partially fretless neck to fit a client’s pot.  This was my first time making and setting up a partially fretless neck.  I roughed out a neck and fretboard similar to this a few years ago, but the customer did the final work on that project so I didn’t get to see how it worked out in person.


My next project was to make a neck and rim and send them to a customer partially completed.  He wanted to do the rest of the work himself.


Then came my first octave mandolin.  The customer wanted one with a guitar shaped body and sent a plan for the shape.  This was a fun project and I was surprised by how nice it sounded, though I don’t know how to play anything in the mandolin family properly.


I also made banjos #105, 106 and 107 during February, they are all shown on the Banjos page.