Gourd Banjo II

Cutting The Face

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Today I am going to cut out the shape of the face of the banjo neck from the blank. The last time I worked on it I drew the outline onto the blank in pencil. Before I started cutting, I clamped the neck down to my work bench.


I have found that the quickest way for me to hog out the shape of the neck is by using my panel saw to cut lots of kerfs right up to the pencil line, like this.


Then I use a chisel to break the waste wood off of the neck. I put that triangular block of wood under the peghead to have something to press against in order to avoid splitting the wood. The triangular piece is the one I cut off when I cut the angle of the peghead, so it should fit pretty well.


I also use the chisel horizontally.


I cut the kerfs all the way around the shape of the peghead.

More kerfs

Back to the chisel to break out the pieces.

More chisel

While I was doing that, I felt something break away that did not feel right. I turned the neck over to check it out and saw this.


Ouch! Shoot, that is a really really bad mistake. I have split off a major piece of the underside of the peghead. This is going to be difficult to cover.

I chickened out on the chisel after that and did the rest of the peghead with my coping saw.


Dang! This is a really bad screwup!

This mistake is so hideous, that I felt it necessary to post a 3-D photo of it so you can see it in its full glory. Click on the label under the image to see it in 3-D or click on the photo itself to see it huge.


Really bad mistake


Well I told you that I was going to post my mistakes as well as my successes, so here it is. This is worse than the one where I cut the peghead nearly in two. I have no idea what I am going to do to fix this one. I might as well finish cutting out the neck while I think about it. I cut some kerfs around the bump where the 5th string peg goes.


Bravely going back to my chisel I managed to chip away the waste wood with no extreme disasters this time.


I used my compass saw to cut the straight part of the neck from the peghead to the 5th string bump.

Compass saw

I cut the sides of the dowel stick next to get access to the heel of the neck. This part was pretty easy. I used my rip saw and got through it in a few minutes.


Here is the dowel piece all cut out.


The next cut is made up from the heel to the 5th string bump. Since that is a straight cut I did it using my rip saw as well. That one went a bit slower because there are three layers of wood to cut through.


Clamping this thing is starting to get difficult because it is no longer square. I moved the whole neck up to the other side of the bench to get better support for the part I was sawing and to be able to clamp it using the dowel piece.

Moved up

The last cut is just a straight cut from the heel all the way up to the peghead on the other side of the neck. I used the same technique as I did for the straight cut on the 5th string side.

Last cut

Well there it is, such as it is. I still don't know what I will do with that ugly chip out of the peghead. After I cut the shape of the peghead down to its final size I will look at how much of the chip is still left. Maybe I can chamfer all around the back of the peghead after it is done to cover it up. I don't know.


I spent about 4 hours on this job today.

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Original post date June 22, 2008

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Last updated June 23, 2008