Archive for November, 2013

More Upcycled Pallet Wood

November 29, 2013

I’ve been looking for new ways to build simple and affordable banjos. I think pallet wood is where it’s at. There are stacks of pallets just a few blocks from where I live, and I’ve been wandering over to look through them a lot lately. Some pallets are made completely of oak. Even better, some are made of hard maple and poplar. This discovery has really excited me. 

Now, how can I best utilize this new, free material? I need to come up with a banjo design that is simple as hell and quick to build but still plays well and looks good…I think I’m on to something with this neck design. I’m still working on a simple pot design. I threw a gourd on this neck just to get it out there. I want to sell these banjos at $50 a piece; making them the most affordable fretless banjo on the market.


Check out this string to nut tension system: the strings go through the peghead before attaching to the pegs on the other side.


Recycled Pallet Banjo

November 16, 2013

Recycled Pallet Banjo

Working on a tackhead banjo made completely from pallet wood. First, let me ask something: companies just throw these pallets away?! I am amazed! Most pallets that I found were made completely of hardwood like oak, poplar and maple. That’s a lot of potentially great wood just being thrown out.

I started with a 4’x4′ pallet. It had 4 poplar supports and the cross-slats were made of poplar and, to my amazement, oak. I took a circular saw to the whole thing and chopped it up. One of the supports made an excellent banjo neck- just with a few nail holes along the side, which only added character in my opinion. Next, I stacked the slats like a Jenga tower with layers of glue in between. The stack of slats became the pot, which I then put a few pallet nails into to add strength and to keep that pallet vibe going.

Just waiting on some skin and strings to finish it up, I think I will leave it unsealed, just like the pallet it was made from.

How to Build a Gourd Banjo: a Book

November 15, 2013

For the past year I’ve been working on a step-by-step instructional guide to building a gourd banjo. I want it to be as thorough as possible with full illustrations and details. From planting the gourd to selecting the correct strings, everything. It will include a set of templates for each part of the banjo. I have a lot of secrets that I am ready to share. Not only will this book allow you to make a banjo, it will also be a piece of folk art in itself: hand-bound, hand-drawn illustrations…


I’m very excited to share the banjo building process. I hope to have copies ready to go before Christmas this year.

Jig Dolls

November 13, 2013

I’ve been doing a lot of research on folk toys lately. The jig doll (limberjack) is one of my favorites. I built a couple last night. As soon as I tied one to my hand and started playing I couldn’t stop smiling. My roommates got a real kick out of it too. One of these would make a great holiday gift for a banjo player. Email me at for one.

Cello banjo. Hello.

November 10, 2013


Classical meets traditional. I always really appreciated the cello. This banjo is a tribute.

What do I do now?

November 10, 2013

What do I do now?

I think the completion of this banjo was a defining moment in my banjo-building life. It got such a great response, even before it was finished!
The strings attach to special pegs in the fingertips. There is an extra “dummy” 5th string peg which pulls out and is used to turn the rest of the pegs.
Green grass grows on hills not on dollar bills.

Fiddlin’ with my left hand

November 10, 2013

Fiddlin' with my left hand

I got my start with fiddles. The first instrument I ever sold was a cigar box fiddle. I’ve revisited the fiddle for the first time in many years to create this.
I really enjoy carving hands. I think it is because the hand is such a complex yet simple machine. Hands make good pegheads, don’t you agree?
This fiddle is for sale. Email me at for more info, pricing and pictures.

See and hear it at