April was a mildly frantic month, but fairly productive overall. I only made one custom banjo, #258. It is made from red maple stained black with Fiebing’s Leather Dye. I didn’t have very good results with the dye on this wood, it came out somewhat uneven or blotchy even after 3 coats, and the grain didn’t show through at all. Before I have used it on ash, and that has been much better. The customer wanted a black banjo with an ebony armrest, Rocklite Ebano fretboard and black head. This was also my first time putting a brass plate in the scoop. They are entirely non-functional, and if anything makes the scoop less useful because shallower, so I don’t recommend them, but they seem to be becoming a thing people ask about in recent years.
During April I was gone almost half of the time to Piercefield to work on the new workshop and the old house there. I’ve never lived a double life before, and I found it rather tiring, but the good news is that it won’t last for more than a few months. The bus that I mentioned in an earlier shop news post has proved very useful, and hauled all the material for the workshop building to the site, even the gravel since the roads were posted for weight and I couldn’t bring in a dump truck.
For now the building is just a shell, but I will use it as a staging area to work on the house, and to store things I bring up ahead of the move. Once the house is mostly done I will insulate, wire, and such to make it into a year-round work space. It’s 16 by 32 feet on the outside, so it should be plenty large enough for what I do.
I also put in the new 200 amp electric service on the house with the help of the electrical inspector who kindly answered my questions, and jacked up the kitchen and put in some new sills and all new joists and plywood. The goal is to have the house livable by sometime in June or July.
I am currently down to 3 in-stock banjos and don’t think I’ll have time to make any more till July at the earliest. I’ve got two necks coming along, and will be starting a custom resonator banjo after they are done. My shop time is very limited during this period, but once I have moved up there and the dust has settled I’ll be able to build instruments full time, so I hope to be able to catch up by the end of the year.
Life is sort of like the garden of Looking-Glass House right now, in that I have to move away from where I want to go in order to get there. My goal has been to have more time to build instruments, and for outdoor recreation in the summer months, but right now I have less of both for a little while.