One solid piece of wood may be used to make the workpiece that will eventually become the banjo neck. Two pieces may also be glued together to make the dimensions. Depending on the thickness of the wood, it may also be necessary to add some “ears” to make up the width of the peghead. I use two pieces of wood make the workpiece and “book-match” because it looks so nice. This practice also provides the flexibility to use wood of smaller dimension which is sometimes easier to find. I accent the glue joint of a two piece banjo neck by adding a thin strip of veneer between the two pieces. The two-piece process is explained noted here because it involves more steps. The one-piece process may be inferred from with relative ease. After the workpiece is trimmed to suitable starting dimensions the process of making all the various features of the banjo neck begins. Here is a quick run down of the procedures involved. The order of these steps many be adjusted to suit.
How to Make a Banjo Neck Step-By-Step
- Workpieces are trued on the jointer
- Gluing (if two piece neck)
- The side profile is cut out, then the neck blank is left to cure a while.
- The neck is reinforced.
- The ears are added
- The peghead overlay and fingerboard are added.
- The neck heel dowel stick hole is drilled.
- The neck heel radius is cut.
- The front profile is cut out.
- Fret work
First the raw lumber must be dimensioned to the proper sizes. The very minimum dimensions for a neck workpiece whose scale length is to be 25.5″ is about 27″ long. This figure is developed from the scale length calculations earlier and breaks down like this;
(Length of the fingerboard) + (6 or 7 inches for the peghead)
The initial width of the workpiece should be equal to the depth of the banjo rim. 3″ width is what I begin with. Some of this width will be trimmed away. The thickness of the workpiece corresponds to the width of the fingerboard at its widest place. 2.25″ thick is the very minimum acceptable. I make my workpiece a little longer, wider, and thicker than the previous measurements just to have a little extra.