Friday, October 25, 2013

(So close to) DONE

Last night I rubbed out the finish with P600, P800, and 0000 steel wool and paste wax and got the banjo back together again. It was only a couple months torn down, but it felt like I hadn't played in forever!

I love the satin look.

I had one very big surprise during assembly. The head had shrunk beyond belief, which meant I still can't use my nice set of Rickard brass hooks and nuts. So for now it's assembled with the extra long steel hooks. I think the fix is going to be a new head with a higher crown. Then I can assemble again with the hardware it was designed for, and then it will be really done.

But as of this moment the hard work is all done, and I am completely thrilled with how it came out. Here's a set of phone pics. We'll make some better ones with a real camera once the head/hardware issue is sorted out.

Oh, and somehow it sounds better than ever, too. I'm not sure why. Maybe the tailpiece is more solidly connected due to one change I made with its bolt mounting bracket.

Finishing the hardware

Earlier this week I wrapped up shaping and polishing all the brass hardware.

It all started with this remote setup in the hotel on a work trip as I rounded all the bracket edges with the sanding drum and started hand sanding with P220:

All parts sanded to P600:

By the way, the tailpiece is a Fielding, the only commercial part shown here. It was starting to patinate from use, so I put it through the process here to make it look the same as the rest of my stuff.

All parts polished with Tripoli compound. The first picture shows before and after:

After a good dunking in brass darkening solution:

Scuffed up with a gray abrasive pad to even out some dark patches in the color (this actually took off most of the color altogether):

Rubbed with 0000 steel wool and paste wax and assembled on the banjo:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The finish is on

Here are a few pics in the process of paying for not sanding well after the first coats and a final pic with the finish on. The fretboard is polished and everything is hanging to cure while I polish hardware.