Gourd Banjo II

Carving the Neck Chapter II

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I am back to finish carving the neck to shape. Last time I worked on it I roughed it in, but now I need to finish the shaping of it. I clamped it down to the bench and started cutting away more wood with my spokeshave.


After cutting for a while I ran into this:


Yikes. More of those pins! I thought that I had put them only in places that would be cut away when I shaped the neck, but it is clear that I messed up that measurement. At this point I cannot remove enough wood to cut these away without having a severe effect on the shape of the neck. I think I am going to have to leave it like this and just explain them away as "artifacts of the manufacturing process" if anybody asks.

These are are both on the underside of the neck, so maybe they will go un-noticed. There is nothing I can do about it now except to make a mental note to plan better next time. I must move on, so I started shaping the handstop.


I started by using the shoe rasp, but the work goes slowly using that tool. So I got out my round bottom spokeshave. The theory is that this is what the round bottom spokeshave is designed to do.... concave curves. Here it is in action.


Here is the result after a few minutes.


I got it to take away the wood, but it was not a smooth operation. I basically chopped at it with the blade as you can see by all the nicks and gouges left in the wood. It is clear that I do not yet know how to use this tool.

After cleaning it up with the shoe rasp, this is what I have so far for the handstop.

So far

Rough Handstop


I will cut the concave part of the handstop on the peghead side using a couple of my tools. One of them is my hook knife which I bought years ago to hollow out the bowl of a spoon I was making (I still use that spoon).

Hook knife

The other tool you may remember from the beginning of this project. Remember this?


It it my fancy, S-curve cabinet scraper that I had decided was useless for anything but scraping out the gourd. Well here it is again, although I think I have found a better use for it. After roughing out the hollow in the handstop with the hook knife I used the scraper to smooth it out and get the curve even.


You can see by the light that peeks under the curve of the scraper that the wood does not yet conform to the shape of the scraper.


After hollowing out the handstop for a while, here is what I ended up with.


Handstop More Refined


I carved a nice curve around the 5th string bump using my rattail file.


After using the spokeshave to remove a large amount of wood up and down the neck, and bringing it all down to the proper size and shape, here it is.

This is about the final shape that the neck will have. I will make some small adjustments as I do the rough sanding. Of course, I will also have to cut the heel of the neck to fit the gourd once I have pierced the gourd with the dowel piece.

I spent about 3 1/2 hours doing this part.

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Original post date July 6, 2008

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Last updated July 6, 2008