It seems to be that May is banjo month for me, and now i'm putting back together a couple of very old tenors. One is an amazing looking May Bell in a really cool blue pearloid burst finish. That one isn't too challenging. The other is a no name and the dowel stick, dovetail stick, whatever the proper term is, is snapped. I assume it was from somebody tightening the back on too tight. What are your opinions on repair? Will a good titebond and clamping be okay or should I reinforce it somehow? Since it's not tuned to pitch or strung for that matter I don't know what kind of tension it will be under when it's adjusted properly.
Brian, in my opinion, this most certainly needs to be replaced. There would be no other option in my shop. These are not that hard to fabricate. Maybe a half hour it you have the proper wood and tools.
I'm with Mark - a no-name resonator banjo with a dowel stick is unlikely to have the resale value that could support much labor cost, so I'd say whatever you do to paste the stick back together with a bit of reinforcement would be fine.
Replacement of the stick is a fine thing to do, but I'm certain I couldn't manage the project in a half hour!
However you choose to proceed, do keep an eye on the neck angle, so you can do a bit of a reset along the way if necessary. . .
If the heel is flush to the rim (determining the neck angle), then it would be fairly straightforward to create a massive scarf joint to reinforce the dowel-stick without making any significant change to the neck angle.
I would probably hand-plane a thick wedge off of the resonator-side of the dowel stick, make a corresponding hardwood wedge, glue and clamp then plane it back down to its original dimensions. Sans finish work, I would guess 1 ½ hour of labor (including reassembly). However, I would give the customer an estimate of 2-3 hours to be safe and just bill it hourly.
I'll upload some pics of a different situation with the same basic glue joint. For your project, I would plane away and replace even more of the dowel stick than is shown in the photos.
Any suggestions on what wood to use for the reinforcement? I don't have much supply around, just little bits of spruce for cleats and what not. Hardware store grade stuff would be preferred if its good enough for the job.
Anything hard - maple, oak, whatever. Something that glues well and is cheap and plentiful, and sitting in your scrap pile.
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