Learning how to make a banjo is a great activity for parents and kids alike. This skill building activity is not only fun and education but the results include an awesome instrument that can be played and enjoyed for years to come. With a little skill and practice the average crafter can created more than just a simple child friendly banjo, they can create a banjo that will work for adults as well.
An easy type of homemade banjo to create is the cookie tin banjo. These are simple and have been around for years. They are created using an aluminum cookie tin or other similar type of tin. It should be round and optimally it will be 7" in diameter.
- Cookie Tin or Other Round Tin 7"-12" in diameter
- 19" Piece of Wood for Neck Preferably Oak or Poplar
- 30 to 60 Proof Monofilament Fishing Line
- 4 Tuning Pegs
- 8 Metal Screws
- 1/3" Small Scrap Wood for Bridge
- The first step is to create a hole in the tin through which the neck will pass. This can most easily be accomplished using a sawzall and a steady hand. For some tin cans an exacto knife may work just as well.
- There needs to be some way to attach the neck to the base (the tin). The best way to do this is to leave the excess metal that is left over after the tin has been sawed open attached. This way the attached pieces can be folded up and screwed into the neck.
- Now it is time to decorate and work on frets. Start by attaching the wood that will be used for the bridge to the front bottom of the tin can base. Be sure to create four thin slivers equal distant apart in the bridge to hold the strings. Be careful not to make them too deep.
- On the tail of the banjo, four screws should be added to hold the strings in place and keep tension.
- At the top of the banjo, the four tuning pegs should be placed on each side of the neck.
- Go down the fret board portion of the neck, adding 17-19 evenly spaced frets.
- Attach strings. Using either fishing wire or commerically created banjo string will work. The fishing wire will take some extra tuning for the first few weeks, so keep this in mind.
The size of banjo and type of strings used will effect the type of sound that the instrument produces. Frets can be added or left off. These directions are for a very simple banjo, there are may ways to make the banjo more elaborate. The only thing left to do after all the above steps have been followed is to paint the neck if desired and then start picking!