Friday, December 30, 2011

Quilted F-5

A new F-5, assembled and strung up unfinished to make sure everything is right before applying any finish coats.

Mother-of-pearl inlays in the headstock. An original interpretation of the classic flower-pot design.

The hand-carved top and scroll is bound with black, white and tortoise-shell binding strips.
 My original mother-of-pearl block inlay pattern with abalone diamond inlaid in the center

Close up of the fretboard and carved scroll

Side view showing the binding and the quilted-maple hand-bent sides.
 close up of the hand-carved back and scroll
I put a little moisture on the wood to highlight the quilted pattern in the maple back.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Pair Of Aces

These two A-5 mandolins are both going to England. I used some new original inlay designs on both of them.

An original interpretation of the traditional block inlay. Each block is made of four pieces of Mother-Of-Pearl, with an Abalone diamond shape in the center, all separated by a thin piece of black wood fiber. The complete blocks get wider and shorter as they descend the fretboard, so no two are the same.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Banjo Conversion Finished!

The clear finish has been sanded and buffed to a high gloss.

The peghead, showing the custom truss rod cover with a rose inlay.

tightening the new head

final touches

The custom Franzke bridge


 The original 4-string tenor on the left and the new 5-string conversion on the right.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fitting The Neck To The Banjo Rim

To drill the two holes for the lag bolts, I made a jig for the drill press that holds the neck perpendicular side to side, with a wedge that holds it at a 1.5 degree angle front to back. The neck angle is critical for the strings and bridge to be at the correct height when it is strung up.

The lag bolts are in place and should line up with the existing holes on the old rim.

It just fits.

The long rod attaches to the lag bolt and also bolts to the other side of the wood rim.

The heel of the neck has been shaped by hand to fit the 11 inch curve of the rim.

The heel should make solid contact with the wood rim for optimum tone quality.

The small nut goes on the top, just like the original.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Making The Neck

I cut the neck from a nice piece of maple. This piece doesn't have as much figure as I typically like to use. I wanted this one to be fairly true to the original and it was fairly plain. I have fretted and bound the fingerboard.
I installed a two-way truss rod before I glued on the peghead overlay and the fretboard.

I used a router bit with a flush trim guide and used the profile of the fretboard to shape the neck to the exact outer shape.

I cut and shaped the peghead profile and then carved and sanded the back of the neck.

I also added an ebony cap to the bottom of the neck heel for esthetics. It was not like that on the original, but it's a nice finishing touch. Now that it is sanded, I will fit it to the banjo rim and probably string it up to see how it feels and plays. I can always make it thinner if I need to.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

1926 Gibson TB-2 Conversion to Five-String

Original 1926 Gibson TB-2 tenor banjo in excellent condition. Client wants a five-string neck in place of the four-string for Bluegrass style playing. I want to make it as true to the original as I can.

Close-up of the inlay design. I will copy it exactly on the new neck.

I photographed the original banjo with a ruler to get an accurate tracing.

I then created an outline in Adobe Illustrator that I could use as a template for cutting the Mother-of-Pearl.

I glued the paper template onto the Mother-of-Pearl piece and cut it out with a jeweler's saw.

Here are all the pieces cut out.

Then I routed out the wood in the exact shape as the pearl piece.

Then I gently pressed the pieces in place, sanded it all. Exactly like the original.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Two A Models Finished

An A-4 (oval hole) and an A-5 (f-hole), finished.

Detail of the A-4. Ivoroid binding, custom herringbone rosette and ebony accents.
Inlay of Mother-of-pearl and Abalone

The lovely flamed maple backside.

"Flower pot" design in Mother-of-pearl and Abalone, black tuner knobs and "tortoise shell" binding.

Detail of the A-5. Tortoise binding, with rosewood accents.

Backside of the A-5. Flamed red maple back and neck. High gloss lacquer finish.