Making Salad Bowl Banjo #3

These photos and videos were done for the person who commissioned this banjo. I documented many aspects of the process of my making this banjo for him, but made it public for all to see here.

What follows is in opposite chronological order (in other words, if this is your first time viewing this page, scroll to the bottom first).


Here it is completed and demonstated on youtube:


Test, one-two, test. Check. Check. Is this thing working?

Strung up, tuned does it sound? Take one.


New bowl - new skin - Perfect!

While the new bowl is not as "beautiful" as the first bowl, it actually is better suited to being a banjo. The skin is super tight (and it was humid in my basement when these were taken - 2 inches of rain that day). Here are a few pics and a video.


Setback has gone from minor to major. The reason for the loose skin has been diagnosed: a skin cannot tighten on a cracked bowl. I'm devastated by this turn of events. This was (is) such a beautiful bowl. I'm heart broken that I can't use it for this project. The wood turner has been called and a new is being produced.


Well, this is the first setback of the whole project (everything went so smoothly until now). The skin did not dry tight. I can think of two possible causes: 1) I did not apply enough glue and 2) the top of the bowl is beveled forcing the skin to come off the top of the bowl as it dries and tightens. Anyway, see the video below, which was taken 24 hours after the skin was tacked on, to see the sad state of this banjo head.

Anyway, this will not cost anything to the owner, except time. I have plenty of spare skins. This skin will come off, the top of the bowl will be de-beveled and a new skin will be tacked on.


Calfskin tacked on Still needs to be trimmed (masking tape protects the side of the bowl)

Fretboard glued on and neck is fitted to the bowl. Neck is sanded and the first two coats of finish have been applied.

Neck squeezing in. It has to be a tight squeeze so the resonance from the neck can help resonate the bowl.

Two holes that start the process of fitting the neck to the bowl

Frets installed

"This is where I'm at" video for the future owner

Bloodwood fretboard slotted

Still rough, but coming along. Also have a 5th peg carving started.

Shaping started

Center line and lines in 1/8 inch increments - getting ready to shape

Gluing the heel/dowl

Rough neck with bowl

Cherry neck - rough shape, just off the bandsaw

Walnut bowl turned by Ron Thompson