View Full Version : Banjo ukes illustrated

dave g
01-25-2011, 11:08 AM
OK, I've started four more and this time I'm really going to try to post pictures of all steps of the build process. So without further adieu...

The neck blanks with the "stick" holes bored:


Routing the curves on the heels:


The bottom cut, the jig, and the router base:


The upper cut and the jig:


dave g
01-25-2011, 11:09 AM
The four ready for the "stick":


And finally with the sticks glued in and pinned:


01-25-2011, 11:17 AM
Love to see how things are build. Thanks :)

dave g
01-25-2011, 12:06 PM
And the neck profiles rough cut:


That's enough for today :)

01-25-2011, 06:51 PM
Thanks. Will be interesting to see how mine was made, assuming you haven't changed the process in the past year. Look forward to following this thread to completion of a banjo uke. The color and grain on that bottom neck is so very nice.

01-26-2011, 02:59 AM
Interesting stuff Dave. I look forward to the rest.

01-26-2011, 04:42 AM
Cool - I'm going to enjoy watching this unfold!

dave g
01-26-2011, 07:05 AM
Pegheads thickness sanded:


Neck tapers rough cut:


Neck tapers sanded to shape, peg holes drilled:


One of them picked up a koa veneer on the peghead due to a pithy knot that turned up on the face...

dave g
02-01-2011, 09:56 AM
Roughing the curve of the neck with a rasp:


Finished up on belt and drum sanders (40 grit, 80, 120):


dave g
02-01-2011, 09:59 AM
The heel blocks cut from neck off-fall:


Ready to make fret boards, waiting for drums to arrive:


02-01-2011, 10:13 AM
Roughing the curve of the neck with a rasp:

Finished up on belt and drum sanders (40 grit, 80, 120):

I like how you hold the neck down. Im going to try that on my next one

Liam Ryan
02-01-2011, 07:23 PM
Keep them coming Dave. I'm facinated.

dave g
02-09-2011, 09:16 AM
The drums arrived!


Necks matched to the drums. The drums are a little out of round and the necks are not dead-nut straight, so it takes a bit of screwing around to match up the correct segment of each drum to a neck...


Drilling the hole for the stick in the rim of the drum:


Measuring how much of the stick has to go to fit:


dave g
02-09-2011, 09:23 AM
Cutting the steel pins. I make these from that metal frame political yard signs have by the way - free for the taking every November!


The pins and wedges ready to go. The wedges are cut from off-fall from the necks as well (front of the peghead):


Neck/drum attachment complete. The screw in the end is a 1 1/4" drywall screw...


Ready to be disassembled and finished:


02-09-2011, 09:51 AM
V interesting Dave. Thanks.

Ken W
02-09-2011, 09:55 AM
Thanks for sharing your build process, Dave. They look great. kww

02-09-2011, 10:54 AM
thanks for sharing step-by-step, however was a little unsure as to how the wedges and pins fit was woundering if you had any other picutres, or could explain further?

dave g
02-15-2011, 09:21 AM
Finishes applied, ready to glue the fret boards on:


And doing just that...



dave g
02-15-2011, 09:27 AM
Not specific to banjo ukes, but it's as good a time as any to make the shipping crates:

Parts all cut:


Sides tacked together:


Reinforcing the corners:


And all ready to go:


The Curious Kid
02-15-2011, 03:01 PM
I smell my next project. What type of hand drum do you use?

and thanks for these killer pictures!

02-16-2011, 04:53 AM
Have you ever considered turning your own drums?

02-16-2011, 05:48 AM
Have you ever considered turning your own drums?
Good idea..or laminate them around a former... Dave! I did some for banjo ukes a few years ago like that...I used 6 layers of Maple latts, cold bent..I can make you a sketch of the set up if you like.

Ken W
02-16-2011, 05:57 AM
Good idea..or laminate them around a former Dave...I did some for banjo ukes a few years ago like that...I used 6 layers of Maple latts, cold bent..I can make you a sketch of the set up if you like.

I would love to see your set up. I just finished a banjo (a banjo banjo, not a uke banjo) last week that had a turned block rim. Sounded good, but I would also like to try laminating a rim. Did I just hijack this thread?

Liam Ryan
02-16-2011, 09:17 AM
Good idea..or laminate them around a former... Dave! I did some for banjo ukes a few years ago like that...I used 6 layers of Maple latts, cold bent..I can make you a sketch of the set up if you like.

I'd love to see the set up too Timbuck.

02-16-2011, 10:04 AM
I made my first banjo uke a couple of weeks ago - much the same process (and the drum looks identical to yours) except I spliced the neck, fretted direct into the neck rather than making a fretboard, used 6mm threaded rod in place of a dowel and made my own tailpiece from wood and a strip of leather. Oh, and wooden pegs.

This is how it turned out, and it plays pretty well.

Beginner's luck perhaps, though I hope not.

The pictures are before I finished the neck, which now has the proper mahogany brownness. Made out of an old salvaged wardrobe frame, so my total materials cost was in the region of GBP 20, about USD 30, of which the drum was about half.

dave g
02-16-2011, 10:54 AM
Can't forget the labels:


A dab of glue on the wedges/pins to help keep them from working loose:


Holes for the strings:


And we're done!


dave g
02-16-2011, 11:09 AM
I've thought about making my own drums, but quickly realized there is no way to do it for anywhere near the money the DADI drums cost. It would at least double what I'd have to charge for the complete instrument... And besides, the whole idea is a solution in search of a problem - these are just perfect for the application :)

02-16-2011, 12:00 PM
I have a series of six block rim construction videos posted on YouTube, worth watching for anyone interested in building banjo rims. The videos show in detail my process of building block rims, from construction to turning them on the lathe.

Here's a link to the introduction video. http://www.youtube.com/user/bordertownbrown#p/u/0/FF6xAIY3rGI

Richard Brown http://bordertownbrown.com

02-16-2011, 01:12 PM
You can also buy blank drum shells which may work. I found these while searching for tubular plywood.
http://www.aitwood.com/StoreFront.Asp?WoodType=VSS-MAPLE&CATID=20&WoodPLY=8&Section=DRUM08PLY&wDesc=8%20ply%20Musical%20Drum%20Shells%20VSS%20Ma ple

02-17-2011, 11:56 AM
Once again, thank you for this informative thread, you have inspired me to have a go myself! after a CBU its about time i tried to make something that actually could sound half decent!
Where is it you source your drums from?

dave g
03-01-2011, 09:46 AM
Time to re-stock on armrests... might as well show that too, eh?

Blanks from the laser cutter guys:


Ready to bend the legs:


The form die does the first two bends, squeezed in the vice:


The final bend is done with a soft-face hammer:


dave g
03-01-2011, 09:49 AM
Right out of the die:


And the other leg:


Sanded smooth, polished, mounting holes countersunk: