Bob Flesher Minstrel Banjo Kit

Setting the Dowel

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Now that I have sanded the banjo parts, I need to set the dowel stick into the neck before putting on the finish. Since the dowel stick appears to be larger than the hole in the neck (it will not go into the hole) I will have to cut it down some. The instructions say to measure the depth of the hole and mark it on the dowel. So I did that using my calipers.

Hole depth

The hole is 1 1/2 inches deep. So, I put the calipers down next to the end of the dowel stick and marked it off with a pencil. I marked the flat end of the stick, not the rounded end.

Mark end

To guess how much wood I would have to remove from the stick I measured the diameter of the hole

Hole size

and then I measured the diameter of the stick.

Stick size

It turns out that the hole measured 23/32 of an inch and the dowel stick measured 3/4 of an inch. So the hole is just 1/32 of an inch smaller than the dowel. That is not a lot of wood to remove from the stick.

I decided to remove the wood from my mark down to the end of the stick using my shoe rasp. Here is a photo of the neck, dowel, and rasp all together.


I took the shoe rasp and went around the dowel stick once starting at the pencil mark and moving the rasp off the end of the sick. I went around the dowel once with the rasp, and then I could just barely get it to fit inside of the hole in the neck. It was a tight fit, but that is OK because I will have to remove some more wood to align the neck to the pot with the dowel stick in it.

Once I had stuck the dowel into the neck and then put the pot on the dowel, I realized that the dowel is not completely straight. In fact, I could do a lot of alignment of the neck just by twisting the dowel stick in the hole, like this:


I then realized that the position of the dowel in the neck hole must remain the same if I am going to do this alignment properly. So I took my pencil and I marked the bottom of the dowel stick.


The rest was actually easier than it sounds from the kit instructions. I just took the dowel out and removed a small amount of wood from the end using 100 grit sandpaper, then I put it back together with the mark at the bottom of the neck and checked the alignment. Once the dowel was in the pot, I could look down the heel of the neck and see any spaces that indicate that the neck is not aligned.


Click on the image for a larger view. You can just see the space between the neck and the pot. That space means that the neck is canted to the left a bit. So I had to take out the dowel stick and take a tiny bit of wood off of one side (the right side as you are looking at it in the photo) in order to move the neck over. This procedure is clearly described in the kit directions.

Finally, here is is all together and aligned as best I could.


One thing to note is that the pot is not symmetrical top to bottom. The edge on the top of the pot is rounded. That is where the head is stretched over the pot. The bottom edge of the pot is square. The hole for the dowel stick is not in the middle, so you must have the pot right side up to get the neck to line up to the edge of the pot.

Another thing to note is that I put the neck on the side of the pot that is opposite the lap joint. The pot is made of a single ply that has been bent into a circle. The circle is joined with a lap joint on one side. I oriented the pot so that the tail of the dowel stick goes through the lap joint, and the neck is on the other side. It just looked better to me that way.

The next step is to glue the dowel into the neck hole. But when I looked around the house, I found that I did not have any glue that was less than 10 years old. I did not want to risk my banjo by using a nickel's worth of old glue, so I put the kit aside until I could get some new glue.

It took me about an hour to set the dowel properly into the neck.

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Last updated April 16, 2006