Here's a great sounding banjo you can build in a few hours.
It's a lot lighter and a little quieter than a regular banjo.

It's based on the traditional folk instruments seen in "Foxfire Volume Three".

First step: Make a tuning peg hole reamer from a pair of scissors.
The reamer is a tool for making tapered holes. First you drill the hole then you ream it out to enlarge and taper it. The taper of the reamer matches the taper of the tuning pegs that will be plugged into the holes.
The smoother, straighter, and better matched to the pegs the holes are, the better your tuning pegs will work.

You can skip this step if you want, either by buying a commercial peg hole reamer, or by tapering your peg holes with a rat-tail file.

Commercial peg hole reamers cost from $26 on up.
They can be obtained from:

Step 1: What Taper?

I made my reamer with a 25:1 taper, which is what older violin tuning pegs used.

I've learned from experience that pegs that taper too much are hard to use. You have to loosen, turn, and force them back.
Pegs that don't taper much need to be made from very hard wood and need a hard headstock hole. Otherwise the peg enlarges the hole from use and bottoms out at the knob end of the peg.

I've got an old violin that needs that kind of pegs, so I can kill a few extra birds with this project.
I plan to buy violin pegs for my banjos in the future when I get lazy.
Modern violins use a 30:1 taper.

Here's the scissor jaw with the grinding guide lines marked on it.

The wide end at the base is .34" wide.
The narrow tip, 3" from that is .22" wide.

i've heard people mention wrapping the tuning peg in sand paper and twisting it into the hole to ream just the right taper. Might be a good option if you don't have grinders and spare scissors.
You mention in the beginning that you found a website that sells these. What was it?
That is a impressive looking grinder. What dia is the wheel? Did you angle the sides of the reamer or leave them square?
The reamer idea is great! About the same design as the little drill on my swiss army knife. I bought a reamer 20 years ago to make my Irish harp, and I was looking for it the other day, lost! Now I don't need to; once again, the simplest solutions are the least likely to be thought of.
Love it! Very nice indeed. (I made a 'country banjo' myself based on the firefox books, 20-some years ago.)

About This Instructable




Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of www.zcorp.com, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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