Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vine Inlaid Walnut Banjo

I printed the design on a laser printer and cut it out with an X-Acto and glued it to the peghead. This gives me a very clear line to rout to.

The paper comes off easily with a little warm water. Then I go around and rout any areas that need it to get the mother-of-pearl to fit.

The logo is difficult to cut, the pearl is so brittle. After breaking a few in the beginning, I now know which cuts to make first, and I rarely break a piece.

The first of the vine pieces are cut out. I cut some of the pieces in one or two sittings, then come back to it later. It's a lot of cutting with a jeweler's saw.

 The fingerboard is routed using the same technique as above.

 The fretboard completely inlaid!

The "business end" of the banjo. Walnut block rim with maple bottom trim. Archtop tone ring and custom 24-piece nickel-plated flange plates I designed and had machined for me.

 Banjo complete. Over 70 individual pieces of mother-of-pearl all hand cut and inlaid.

 I developed the design for the vine over a long period of time, drawing and re-drawing. I wanted it to look organic and free-flowing, but at the same time, make it tie into the key fret positions where the dots would normally be. Rather than put very obvious markings on the key frets, I designed it to have a little more mass at the 7th, 10th, 12th, 15th, 17th and 19th frets.
 Full view.

 The back of the burl walnut resonator with the checkerboard purfling rings.

 The checkerboard design carries over to the sides of the resonator and the neck binding.

The walnut/maple rim and the 3-piece walnut/maple/walnut neck and maple/ebony heelcap. A closer look at my flange design incorporating elements of the classic Gibson and Vega flanges.