The Windfish Banjo

I set about to try to build myself a banjo. Although I spent probably several years in the planning and daydreaming stages, I really just started building it this winter (January 2007). This page will track that progress. I had hoped to finish it before the Midwest Banjo Camp in early June, 2007. Now I just hope to finish it some day.

I was originally hoping to make the banjo out of Persimmon, a native hardwood. Unfortunately it proved to be too difficult to obtain this wood. So after a lot of research into various native tonewoods I settled on making the banjo out of Ash. (I got a kick out of coming back from lunch one day and telling my co-workers "I got me a nice piece of ash at lunch today".)

Well, then Woodwerks had a big bag of mahogony scraps, and I couldn't resist buying them. By the time I'd gotten home I'd decided to incorporate some of that mahogony into the banjo project.

First I made the pot. Everything on a banjo centers around the pot. The neck length, the hardware, the head. The pot is really the heart of the banjo.

Next, I'd decided that for this project I'd cast my own hardware. This allows for custom pot sizes, and it allows for interesting and creative hardware options. After originally thinking I'd use "Bell Bronze" I decided to go with "Silicon Bronze" instead. Silicon Bronze is supposedly easier to cast. It has a really nice gold color, and at least one reference I found said that it rang most pleasantly when used for bells. It is a little softer than bell bronze, but that should be ok for this project.

To cast bronze, I first needed to build a foundry.

... and that is as far as I've gotten so far. I'm still building the foundry.