The Banjo Head
By John Fisher
Ambition never gets anywhere until it forms a partnership with work.
Here is the actual shape of the head that I used. This the “Mastertone Fiddle” shape. The dimensions that I used were 3 3/16” wide at the widest part, and the length from the tip of the head to the nut is about 6 1/4"
After making sure that the surface of the head was flat using a sanding block, I glued some black veneer onto the head. A simple way that I did this was to paint the head with white glue and the veneer to be glued with white glue. Making sure that is was covered well I let it dry. I then applied another coat and let that dry. With a normal clothes iron (no steam) I ironed on the veneer. When using this method, the veneer sticks almost instantly. As you can see, I put the veneer on before the head was final shaped.
I printed out a paper template and used it to draw the final outline of the fiddle head shape.
Here I am shaving the neck to about ˝" thick. I first cut out the shape using a coping saw and then I used a rasp to perfect the shape.
Here I am working away trying to perfect the details of the head shape.
Here is the finished head. I cut out the inlays from scratch just like I did on the fret board. I made the nut from a cows bone that I got from the butcher.
Here is the back of the head with the tuners installed
Progress has little to do with speed, but much to do with direction.