In The Workshop
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Unfinished pot assembly nearing completion. Note the new tone ring configuration using bocote, a solid brass collar and brass ring. Also note the wood inlay on the ebony/bocote tension band. Midway up the rim you can see a steam-bent piece of maple forming a shoulder set into a groove turned into the rim. This if for the bracket band to rest against when under tension.
Here's a laminated neck blank rough cut and on its way to be carved. Note the pair of 1/8" by 1/2" steel bars epoxied into the center. These extend into the peghead to provide valuable reinforcement at a traditionally vulnerable spot.
The master is on the left, and the blank on the right is about to be carved. Note the use of polyester filler on the master to facilitate the evolution of the shape of the neck, especially around the heel.
A better shot of the "Copycarver" built from plans purchased over the web at http://www.copycarver.com/ The plans are good, but using the machine takes some practice and understanding of its limitations. It's basically the old swing-box idea on a rolling carriage. Accuracy is surprisingly good when used with care and practice. Feel free to email me if you decide to build one of these. I have no relationship with the folks who sell the plans.
Coming soon -- the heel to pot joint -- a challenging joint on this banjo!
Detail of new tone ring configuration.
The brass collar is rolled to shape, bonded to the rim and then trued and turned for a perfect fit with a standard 11" head. The scallops will be cut later.
A specially ground tool cuts a cove for the 1/4" brass ring to fit into.
The neck after carving. This shop-built duplicating machine works well for roughing out a neck in a reasonable amount of time.
The neck out of the carver after some additional handwork. Everything from this point on is done by hand, and the shaping is very, very subtle.