So a while back I had the silly idea of trying to build banjos to sell. And for a good while I was building stupid tools to do jobs the hard way.
Before I built that drum sander I decided to just start actually building a banjo to see how it goes. Then I got distracted again by a friend asking me for help in building skateboards and built that drum sander. I finished the sander but the skateboard thing fell through so I'm getting back to continuing that banjo.
That's my life story out the way. So I started by making some wooden hexagons. The main wood i'm using is meranti, a sort of cheap knock-off mahogany.
Despite being careful, I didn't get the angles right. I really have no idea how people manage to do those fancy segmented turnings. I guess they must cut the last segment to fit.
They were glued in two halves and then the joining faces were sanded flat.
Anyways after being left in the house for two months the meranti hexagons held up fine, but the top one made from goncalo alves shrunk enough to make a huge gap, the individual segments also twisted a huge amount. It's not a very stable wood, evidently.
The idea is that fancy banjos use a metal tone ring that sits between the skin head and the pot, and that gives it a brighter tone. So instead of that I'm going to use a hard wood as the top layer in the pot. That said, i'm not a big believer in tone. I guess there are differences, but which one is better is highly subjective. But it's still something I wanted to try.
The meranti hexagons didn't warp at all, but weren't perfectly flat to begin with. So I sanded them true on the drum sander.
These were then glued into a stack, on a board of plywood. It was awkward with the thing sliding about on the glue. If or when I do this next, i'll probably drive some pins into the wood to prevent that. A layer of paper should hopefully make it possible to separate the pot from the plywood once it's round.
There was still that top layer to sort though. The goncalo alves was too warped to try forcing flat, so I went through my basket of hardwood to try find something else. I first tried using a piece of chechen, and after cutting it up I realised I didn't have enough wood. I'd checked to see how stable chechen was online before cutting it up, and it seemed to rate fairly well. But I was fed up at this point and decided to just cut some apple wood and see how that goes.
That was then glued up.
Tomorrow I'm planning to build a rubbish wood lathe to turn the inside of the banjo. The outside will probably be sanded on the spindle sander. I'd actually built that sander with the intention of using it to sand banjo pots round internally, but i've since deiced that it wasn't the best of ideas. I guess i've warmed up to the idea of awkward dangerous looking wood lathes after building the drum sander.
I measured up some various scraps in the garage and here's what i'm going with so far. I'll probably add a bit more bracing to the headstock side of things, but there's no point in drawing that up I suppose.