You will probably need at least two sets of strings if you make the attempt at hand cutting one of these one piece flange banjo heel cuts. Richie Dotson You may need to correct the angle of a taller or shorter bride also. 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. I make several cuts from the outside to the deepest part of the flange beed cut and take care of cleaning that cuts up with a chisel. 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. This jig can be made from wood or it could be made from metal. Use some scrap to test your work. It has two different contact points that are stepped plus a cut on the inside of the steps that makes room for the flange bead. Subscribe with confidence! Too flat an angle is not so good either as it may render the instrument dull. You should count on removing the lag bolts more than once while making the final adjustment. In fact, this banjo neck was made by me in my shop and the heel was hand cut by me specifically for this article. The cross slide effectively creates a horizontal drill by moving the spinning drill bit into the heel. Even if the rest of the neck is excited perfectly, this cut can make or break an otherwise great banjo. Acoustic Box LLC It consists of a plate that screws or clamps onto the saw table of a band saw. Both are mounted on a cross slide. I start this cut by using a 6″ profile contour gauge in order to record the profile of the pot on which the neck will be mounted. Note that the heel is too tall at this point. June Apple and other Favorites by Bob Browder, How to Make a Banjo Neck Pattern – Side Profile. You should work slowly and carefully. 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 transfer that shape to a piece of brass and cut the flange bead shape slightly over sized then use the more permanent brass template to transfer that shape to the side of the neck. It helps cut an angle and a radius at the same time. The arc should have a diameter a tiny bit less than the diameter of the rim you intend to use. This is a mistake I have made. When cutting the heel of the banjo neck to fit the banjo pot, there are two things that really need to be spot on. You will automatically be entered for a chance to win BanjoCraft Giveaways! It also increases the angle of the strings across the bridge. It has two different contact points that are stepped plus a cut on the inside of the steps that makes room for the flange bead. Too sharp an angle is not so good as it can result in an instrument sounding too “lively”. This small angle allows for adjustment to take place. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Although it may still result in a playable banjo, people will look at you funny ; ) It is a good idea to have a good sharp blade on the band saw for this job. 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. It is almost always necessary to do fine adjustments the heel cut even after the heel profile has been professionally machine cut. If the neck is mounted on the jig crooked the neck will be crooked when it is mounted on the banjo. This also allows us to adjust our radius and angle a little bit. 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. 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. Just make sure that the lines connecting both sides of the neck are perpendicular to the centerline of the fingerboard. This jig can cut the heel contour and drill the coordinator rod holes while maintaining a constant angle. The resulting shipping to and from that company for that service plus the fee for the service is well worth it if you don’t have much in the way of equipment in your shop or the experience to make this cut yourself. The most difficult cut of the more common neck heel profiles is that of the Gibson one-piece flange. The banjo neck heel radius is a subtle detail that makes all the difference. I use masking tape to attach them to the sides and even though I measured before I cut the spacers, I always double-check my measurements before I make the first cut. 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. It consists of a plate that screws or clamps onto the saw table of a band saw. That will be taken care of near the end of the process. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. It isn’t the easiest way to make this cut, but it will work. It is best to wait for this part of the job until the rim has been turned on the lathe. 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. My jig, however is intended for fitting the 11 inch pot. The sharper the angle of the string across the bridge the more downward pressure is communicated to the head. Mike I have to take into consideration where the last fret is located, how much fingerboard I want extending past the last fret and get the markings of the heel cut aligned the same on both the bass and treble sides of the new neck. 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. Those tools and blades are great on small pieces of pine, but not so good on chunky pieces of maple, mahogany or walnut. Not only should it be angled but it also must have a radius that is cut at the proper angle to fit the hoop and deliver the desired playability. If you’re doing the sanding by hand, take good care not to modify the radius or the angle. 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. Using a Dremal with a flex shaft attached to it and more very sharp gouges and chisels to cleanly refine the shape. 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. 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.