Gourd Banjo III

Making the Bridge

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There is one last piece to make before I could assemble the banjo, and that is the bridge. I had a blank of maple sitting around from last time all ready to go. It isn't difficult finding pieces of wood to make bridges out of because I just use the scraps that I cut off the neck blank. My bridges are 3/4" tall, and the lumber is 3/4" thick, so it works out well. Here is a bridge I made last year next to the blank. I will use it as a template.


If I already have a spare bridge, then why am I making a new one?

A few reasons:

Because the skin head moves with the humidity, tightening up in the Winter and going limp in the Summer, I have a couple of bridges for one of the banjos. I have a taller bridge on it now (1"), during the Summer, because the head has sunk so far down that the strings buzz when I play it. In the Winter, the head tightens up and raises the action, so I put the 3/4" Winter bridge on it to bring the action down a bit.

I put the old bridge down on the blank and drew a pencil line around the shape.


I cut out the shape with the coping saw.


Here is the piece from the bottom of the bridge, between the feet.


I finished off the shape of the cutouts with the rattail file.


The bridge is shaped like a wedge, narrower at the top and wider at the bottom. I did the initial shaping with the rough side of the shoe rasp.


Once it got close to the proper shape I smoothed it out with the smooth side of the rasp.


When it was almost done I cut it off of the blank.


Final polish and shaping was done with the 60 grit sandpaper.


To get the sides straight I put a piece of the sandpaper down flat on the bench and scraped the bridge across it.


And there it is. A bridge.


I only worked for about an hour and a half today. The bridge was pretty easy. I also put some more finish on the gourd, but most of the time was spent waiting for the finish to dry.

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Original post date August 10, 2009

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Last updated August 17, 2009