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25 April 2015

Highwayman Banjo: Varnish and be done!

I'm drawing to the end of my Highwayman Banjo build! I've been at this for at least a year now and I'm almost done. I can't quite believe it. Today I set out to do the final shaping of the neck. It took a while, but I got it done with time to spare...

I don't have any shaping pictures for you. Here's me having cleaned the neck down with white spirit. The wood looks quite dark due to it still being a little damp. This was the first hint of how the wood was going to turn out with varnish on. Looking good! I had high hopes.

I didn't plan to do any banjo building today, but was forced into it when I realised that  I was starting to mark the wood by playing it unfinished.

The mahogany sanded down a treat. It really does make a difference to the feel of the banjo knowing that I'm not going to spike myself with a splinter

This is a closer look at the back of the neck. What a lovely grain! 

I finished the body at the same time as sorting the neck. Here it is sanded down and a little damp with white spirit.

This is the first time I've taken the head off... I do hope I can get the bloody thing back on again! 

Having done some experimentation about six months ago I set to varnishing the banjo with a brush. My hope is for a thick gloss finish and I'm using Ronseal interior varnish (the one with "diamondhard protection") for this project.

I'm not sure how many coats I'm going to put on it. I'll just keep going until I feel happy with it. All I'm doing is running some super-fine grit (2000) over it every now and again to remove bumps. So far, so good.

Already I can see that it's bringing out some of the close grain parts of the wood in a beautiful milky effect. There are all sorts of little imperfections in the wood that are coming clear now. I love it! I keep touching it when I shouldn't. Must... be... patient!

Take a look at the snake-skin effect that runs down each side of the neck just below the fretboard. I REALLY WANT TO PLAY THIS!!!

Must... be... patient! 

As a bit of a distraction, I'm going to share a video review from Circuits and Strings of the Deering "Goodtime" Banjolele. +Daniel Hulbert showed me this when he first got it and I must say that I was more than a little captivated by what is quite a wonderful little instrument.

Daniel covers the bases in the video. Keep an eye out for that odd bridge plate; the lovely tail-piece; and that overhanging fretboard. Daniel's promised to send the instrument to me next. Woohoo! I can't wait! ;-)

I'm going to end with a little French cowboy blues courtesy of my G+ pal +Tristan le musicien. I love this and I know you will too.

If I'm really lucky, I'll have the Highwayman put back together tomorrow. Will I show you a picture or two? What do you think?

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