Cookie Tin Banjo Part 2: Make a Tuning Peg Shaver




Introduction: Cookie Tin Banjo Part 2: Make a Tuning Peg Shaver

About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific...

This peg shaver is a handy tool for making tuning pegs for your banjo.
It works like a big pencil sharpener.

It's quick and easy to make once you've made your tapered reamer in Part 1.

With this little shaver you'll make better pegs with less work.
Even if you're just making one set of pegs, you'll probably save time by making one of these handy shavers first.

You can skip this step if you want, either by buying a commercial peg shaper, or by tapering your pegs by hand.

Commercial peg shavers cost from $25 on up.
They can be obtained from:

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Step 1: Drill the Pilot Hole

I got two blocks of dense hardwood out of my scrap pile and clamped them together in the drill vise.
I got a long .216" drillbit and drilled a hole through one of the blocks right by the edge of it.
The second block of wood is just to keep the bit from breaking out through the side of the first block.

If you don't have the right drillbit get a big nail and hammer on the end til it looks like a spoon or spearhead of the right width.

If you don't have a drillpress use whatever drill you've got.

Step 2: Ream the Hole

Use the tapered reamer you made in Part 1 to enlarge the hole to the proper taper.

It's easy and goes pretty quick, even in this very hard wood. It's a shallow taper and you're not really shaving much wood.

Step 3: Shave Through the Side of the Hole

I was too lazy to measure things correctly so the hole didn't hit the edge of the block.
You want the surface of the block to be a hair below tangent to the side of the hole.

So I had to mill the block down to the level of the side of the tapered hole.
If you don't have a milling machine use a plane, beltsander, knife, or whatever you've got.

I ended up milling too deep, so I'll have to put spacers under my cutting blade. Oh well.

Step 4: Chop It Off

Saw your new tool short enough to clamp in a vise.

Step 5: Ready for Action!

Clamp it in a vise with a cutting blade. I used the cutting blade from a spokeshave. A plane iron, razor blade, or even a metal ruler would work.

Because I milled the side of the block too deeply, my blade dug into the peg and made a mess.
So I pulled the blade and stroked it with drill shank to make a burr.
Then I put the blade back in with the burr down and turned the peg the other way.
That way my spokeshave iron worked like a scraper and didn't dig into the peg.
A few turns later I had a nice smooth tuning peg, perfectly matched to the tapered holes my reamer makes.

Step 6: It Works!

It works great, and it didn't take much time to make.
Even if you're just making one set of pegs, you're probably better off making one of these first.

The blade on mine was too low at first and dug in too much, so I put a metal shim under the blade, and now it works fine. Eventually I might bolt the blade in place,
In the meantime it works fine just held together by the vise.

Ready to make pegs?
Continue to Part 3: Make Tuning Pegs from Scrap Wood!

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    5 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    granted- I admired the article for showing how to make one- but with all the tools you do have- couldn't you have spared the 60-70 to buy both the peg shaver and reamer??? utilizing the proper tools to make a tool isn't something you could easily do from hand tools alone- there is a hidden investment of prior tools involved- which is not making this as easy as thought to be done... especially if you plan to mass produce more then one peg to one hole. I'm still working on a much easier way that doesn't involve a machinist or veering off from standard home tools


    11 years ago on Step 5

    i'd just like to say that i really like what your doing with this whole artical, i've constructed three instruments over the last year and only just found this site, i'm always being told by "experts" that i don't have the right tools for the job, and here you are making the most incredbul little gadgets! brilliant! i'll now continue happily in my own hap-hazzard manner, cheers!


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    It's from a spokeshave. A plane iron or anything with a straight edge would work.