Gourd Banjo

Making the Peg Blanks

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Another week has gone by, and I am back working on the banjo. I have decided to finish up the peg blanks first. I just basically take my shoe rasp and cut the shafts down to size, making them round and tapered by sight. I have clamped the blank into my little metal-working vise to hold it upright while I do this.


The cherry is really soft compared to the maple, and the rasp cuts quickly.


In the photo above, the shaft is very nearly round. You may also notice that I have moved the peg to my bench vise. It has a better grip on the peg. Below is the first blank completely rounded using the rasp. It is sitting next to one of the prototype pegs that I made before to show that the shaft is larger than the finished size.


Not bad for just eyeballing it. To get it a little more round, I wrapped it in some 80 grit sandpaper and twisted it back and forth a few times.


Here it is sanded round.


That is looking pretty good. I suspect that I could make these entirely by hand, if I had to, and still make them work. I guess that they did do it all by hand in the old days. But I have left the shaft a bit large anyway, and I will finish them up with my peg shaver since that will be more precise.

OK. Repeat the exercise four more times, and here are the pegs.

All Five

Now for the buttons. I cut the square corners off of the buttons using my coping saw.


Then I rounded the corners off with my rasp. I used the round side of the rasp to put an indentation into the button across it. Then I used my hook knife to make a bowl shape in the button for comfort and looks. This makes a rather nice button shape, even if I do say so myself.

Here is a photo of the peg blanks after I got done shaping the buttons. You cannot see the curvature of the buttons in the photo, so I have provided a 3-D image of them as well. To see the image in 3-D, click on the 3-D link, below the image.


That is it for the peg blanks. When I install them into the peghead, I will do the final shaping of the shafts using my peg shaver and fit each one to its permanent home in a particular peg hole. I will do that work after the neck has been sanded and finished.

I spent two hours making the blanks. That seems like a long time just to make a few blanks, but then I could be using these pegs for years, so maybe it isn't so bad after all.

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Last updated December 2, 2007