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Building the Resonator 

I build the back of the mini banjo resonator out of 5'' wide x 7/8'' thick curly maple that is bought off eBay. The back is started by sawing out eight pie shaped pieces, each at 45 degrees, on a miter saw. I glue two of these together in a 90 degree clamp-jig that I made. After I have four of these glued up, I glue two each together to make two halves. The flat sides of these two halves are trued on the table saw and they are glued to each other to make an octagonal shaped blank that the resonator back will be made from. A round blank is sawn out about 1 and 1/2'' larger than needed for the outside diameter of the resonator. This extra on the outside edge is used for area to screw the resonator blank to the lathe faceplate.

I turn the outside convex side first, sand it while it's still mounted, take it off the faceplate, flip it over, and remount it. I then turn out the inside concave side of the resonator. I leave a little "peak" in the center on the inside of the resonator to add strength in this area. The outside rim of the resonator is made by sawing out two rings of wood from 3/4" aspen shelving board bought at Lowes. These are clamp/glued, cross grained, on top of each other, and on the resonator back while it is still on the faceplate, which has been removed from the lathe. After this has dried, the faceplate is remounted on the lathe and the inside and outside of the resonator rim is turned to needed size. The top inside edge of the resonator is turned down to the outside diameter of the flange. The resonator receives a final sanding and is removed from the faceplate. The extra wood on the outside that was used to mount the resonator to the faceplate is removed with a bandsaw, and this area is sanded.

I make a 1/16" veneer of curly maple by sawing a long strip from a 2" thick board. This strip is soaked in hot water, bend around a form and left to dry. It is then cut to length and clamp/glued around the outside of the resonator rim. After dry and sanded, a Dremel tool router is used to cut grooves in the outside bottom and top edges of the rim to accept the binding. It is cut to length and glued on with Duco Cement. The ivoroid binding is held in place with strips of tape until dry. The binding is scraped smooth with a cabinet scraper. I now inlay the back of the resonator.

An eight point "star", with a center dot, is sawn from 1/16" thick mahogany or walnut. The points of the star are placed over the glue joints of the resonator back, and traced with a mechanical lead pencil. The drawn star is routed-out with a Dremel tool router, the depth set slightly less than 1/16". The star inlay is glued into the back, and when dry, it is sanded level with the surface area of the back. Later, when the resonator is stained and finished, the curly maple gives the appearance that the star is radiating light!


Pictures of Building the Gerald Slaughter Mini Banjo Resonator- Click to enlarge

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The Finished Resonator

  Click link to Curly Maple Wood Web Site