Subscribe with confidence! Don’t worry yet about the radius on the top of the fingerboard or the bottom of the heel yet. It consists of a plate that screws or clamps onto the saw table of a band saw. Cutting the banjo neck heel radius is complicated because the neck will be attached to a round hoop. Check out my page and peer at the photos for my solution to cutting the heel for a banjo. There is no substitution for experience and being off, even a little bit, while making the heel cut this way will cause you a ton of grief. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Mike It isn’t the easiest way to make this cut, but it will work. If the neck is mounted on the jig crooked the neck will be crooked when it is mounted on the banjo. It is best to wait for this part of the job until the rim has been turned on the lathe. If you have a table top band saw with a blade on it that came from a box store like Lowe’s or Home Depot you will need to extra slow and careful. I can then start my cutting with a band saw being as careful and observant as possible. It helps cut an angle and a radius at the same time. Fiddles often have a neck angle of seven degrees, many flat top guitars have only one degree of neck angle. Even if the rest of the neck is excited perfectly, this cut can make or break an otherwise great banjo. Both are mounted on a cross slide. Waiting allows the actual pieces to be fit together at near finished dimensions and make totally sure that the fit is good. June Apple and other Favorites by Bob Browder, How to Make a Banjo Neck Pattern – Side Profile. Nearly all stringed instruments have the neck attached at an angle. The cross slide moves either tool in position as it is needed. Learn how your comment data is processed. because the shoulders of the heel were already profiled, I need to make the narrow area of the heel the same width as the fingerboard in that area by adding a shim block to either side of the heel so I can cut it on the band saw without compromising the symmetry of the cuts. Note that the heel is too tall at this point. When cutting the heel of the banjo neck to fit the banjo pot, there are two things that really need to be spot on. I have also done the job by hand with a piece of sand paper attached to the waste cut off the heel of the neck. For that, I use my banjo neck fitting and resetting jig. Just make sure that the lines connecting both sides of the neck are perpendicular to the centerline of the fingerboard. So, even if you call up someone as order a neck blank with a one-piece flange heel cut for a 5/8″ bridge, you can still expect to make some adjustments for it to perfectly match your pot. The most difficult cut of the more common neck heel profiles is that of the Gibson one-piece flange. Chesterfield, Virginia. Once you get the profile as clean and as perfect as you can, you are ready to begin cutting the radius into the butt of the heel. The banjo neck heel radius is a subtle detail that makes all the difference. Some companies offer a service of making this cut for you on a banjo neck that you are building or as a service to a neck blank that you order from them. On the side of the plate that has the concave arc there should be a wedge that will hold the neck at 3 degrees from the plane of the plate. If you’re doing the sanding by hand, take good care not to modify the radius or the angle. The banjo neck heel radius jig is used to assist in cutting the heel of the neck so that it will mate cleanly with the rim. I have a Flex Cut gouge set that is razor sharp that I use for this. If you choose to use a sanding wheel, it is usually best to use one that is of a slightly smaller diameter than that of the rim. After cutting the banjo neck heel radius with the band saw a sanding wheel jig may be used to get all the saw marks off the heel of the neck. The cross slide effectively creates a horizontal drill by moving the spinning drill bit into the heel. For those of you who are tool poor but have a tone of time and curiosity on your hands, the following will detailed description, complete with photographs, will get the job done. Most people who start building banjo necks have a difficult time fitting the heel of a banjo neck properly to a banjo pot. It is very important that these jigs be constructed well and used properly. I trace the rim on the top of the heel then set the bandsaw table at 3 degrees and cut along the mark then cut the neck notch using handsaws, dremels and chisels or a milling machine. The arc should have a diameter a tiny bit less than the diameter of the rim you intend to use. That will be taken care of near the end of the process. First, one needs to cut the proper angle of relief to get the desired action (how high or low the strings are on the fretboard) and proper down pressure from the strings to the bridge to the banjo head. You should work slowly and carefully. The sharper the blade, the less sanding will need to be done. The sharper the angle of the string across the bridge the more downward pressure is communicated to the head. It is structurally and acoustically important that this joint have a good fit. You must watch your angle as you go and even after you think you are done, you’ll need to install the lag bolts and attach the neck and sacrifice at least one set of strings while you double-check all the lines and to make sure the centerline is where it needs to be as well as the angle that you need to accommodate the bridge height you need for your banjo. Acoustic Box LLC In fact, this banjo neck was made by me in my shop and the heel was hand cut by me specifically for this article. A completely blank neck is pretty intimidating. 3 degrees allows for a bridge height that I find to be ideal for clawhammer playing, not too high or too low, about 5/8″ tall. This neck is constructed from curly maple. I also use various dog-leg chisels, nut setting files and sandpaper to further refine the profile as perfectly as I can before tentatively testing the fit against the banjo pot just before cutting the radius into the profile, which is the trickiest part of this operation. My jig, however is intended for fitting the 11 inch pot. The plate of the jig has two halves, one half has a convex arc and the other has a concave arc. My favorite banjos have a neck angle of 3 degrees. Be patient and allow your sharp tools and fresh sandpaper do most of the work for you.