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Banjo necks

Laminating two new banjo necks

Laminating two new banjo necks

I opened the new cans today. The brake fluid can is empty and appears dry inside. The industrial oil can, on the other hand, came with some residual oil in the bottom. I’m draining what’s in there overnight. Next I’ll either  absorb that oil with some magical absorbing  stuff, like that which they use to clean oil spills in garages, or, I’ll use a solvent to clean the inside. I prefer to avoid using solvents, so I’ll try option one first.

Meanwhile I started building two banjo necks, one for each of the two new cans. There are two ways to go about making a neck. One is to start with a single block of hardwood and cut out the neck from that win a bandsaw. Another way is to laminate pieces together to get the thickness required. I also laminated fancy wood strips to the top of the neck. These strips of wood will become the fingerboards. I’m not going to say fretboards here because these necks are going to be fretless. I saved enough of the fingerboard material to also use some on the heel of each of the two necks.

The next steps will be to use the bandsaw to rough out the shapes of the neck.


  1. Watching the progress with great interest. I always wanted to do something like this myself but I don’t have much space, tools or time (lame excuses). My main motivation would be because I’m cheap and would rather DIY a custom instrument than shell out silly money for one. I make my own low whistles from PVC piping for this very reason.

    • I’m learning as I go, Seymour. I’ve done my research and I know a heck of a lot more than I did when I cobbled together the first canjo back around Christmas. The next step is band-saw work. I think if get the basic neck shape cut successfully, I’ll be off to the races.

      • I have a couple of empty olive oil cans put by for a rainy day 🙂 I actually have a beautiful old neck off a tenor banjo that could do with being restored and given a second life. It’s off the first banjo I ever owned. I bought it off the guy who bought it from the guitarist in the house band at the Savoy Hotel in London in 1926. There’s some history there I wish I knew more about. Anyhow it would be cool to have it on a canjo one day …

        • A really good resource on YouTube are the videos by rpeek about making oil can banjos. They really helped me gain the confidence to try it. If the rainy day comes and you decide to put the olive oil cans to good use, I’d be happy to try to answer any questions about making one of these things.
          My brother, who is a closet banjo picker, says that olive oil cans make better canjos than machine oil cans. I haven’t seen any data to back that up.

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