10/23/2013

Workshop: Resetting Banjo Dowel Stick


I took these pics a bit ago but wanted to share!

This neck looks fine, right?




Pop it in the vise...


Wiggle it slightly side to side to test the joint and... aha... loose dowel!

I always check because the glue on these tends to break down after a while, especially on lower-end instruments.


After wiggling a bit more it's removed. Now I clean up the joint (sand and scrape it to bare wood)...


...and liberally apply Titebond Original and wipe off. Note how I've marked the "up" side of the dowel with a tiny scratch. That way I won't get "turned around."



Now, the joint was pretty tight and the angle on the dowel was good, but I like to make sure it won't "set" weird. Here you can see I've turned the neck upside down and blocked it up to keep the dowel from settling in an "up" position as it dries that would (possibly) intefere in good back-angle when I set it up. The big box of brads on the bottom of the heel is weight to keep a little pressure on the joint.


Time to move on! -- now we're getting the all-metal rim ready for a new head. I've stripped the old (broken) head out and removed the square-style brass "flesh hoop."


Here's our "head donor" -- an old 1930s 10 7/8" skin head in good condition that I probably just won't use again... I tend to put synthetics on whenever I can as they're just so, so, so much easier for folks to deal with.


Here I've cut the center of the head out and next I'll pop it in some water to soak before mounting it. I tend to re-head old banjo ukes with these old heads from 20s and 30s tenor and 5-string banjos that sit around my workshop. First of all, they remount just like any new skin, and second they're often far better quality than fairly expensive new skin heads you can order these days. They're also free for my customers and have the right "aged in" looks for older instruments.

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