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Banjo hanger

I fixed a banjo ukulele I found on the street. Similar to how giving a mouse a cookie results in a request for milk, fixing any instrument necessitates a place to hang or store it. I decided to build a wall hanger instead of purchasing one.

Design and material

sketch of possible hanger designs in notebook

Back in 2018, a DSNY collection truck knocked a branch off an American beech that lives on our street. Before the city collected the fallen branch as yard waste, I cut a few 24-inch logs, painted the ends to prevent them drying out too fast, and bundled them to cure. It took me about a week to buy paint and do the painting, and the ends checked (split) a little bit during that time. You can see that in some photos of the ends of the logs a bit later.

Originally, I put them under the bed in a bag with some dessicant to dry. Unfortunately, green wood releases a lot of water vapor, and the dessicant couldn’t keep up. It started to smell a little bit like the woods, so I moved the logs to the basement:

bundle of logs drying in the basement

I let them cure for about a year, from summer 2018 to summer 2019. I didn’t weigh them, so I’m not sure how dry they actually got.

Rough sawing and planing

With COVID-19, I had a lot of time in the later winter of 2019/2020. It was drizzly and cold outside, so I started working the dried logs.

removing the bark

Here, you can see the checking caused by the ends drying out too fast. (This end was painted, but I sawed off about 1cm to see how deep the checking went.)

end of a log showing, some splits radiating from the heartwood

I did some rough planing to start to get a flat edge to begin ripping from, so it wouldn’t wobble so bad.

log with about 4 inches roughly planed

I got tired of planing (I have a very small block plane and it doesn’t keep a sharp edge very well) so I started ripping to see how quickly that went by hand.

starting the first rip

I only had a crosscut saw at first, which has relatively wide-set teeth that remove a lot of material. This means slow going when ripping. Thankfully, my dad gave me a proper pull-stroke ripsaw as a birthday gift, and that sped things up.

first block ripped out; it looks almost like actual wood and not like a log!

This first piece wasn’t good for much; it had a big split through it. I’d also like to point out the gashes on my arm were from the cat, not from sawing.

Building a jig for planing

I don’t get out enough due to COVID-19, so I started live-streaming whatever I was doing on Sunday afternoon as a way to interact with friends. To date I’ve done programming, but decided to take a break from that since the weather was nice and work on the banjo hanger instead.

Here’s the video from September 20th, 2020. I needed a way to hold the plank stable while planing to keep from curving it, which tends to happen if the work can move around during planing:

Finished and installed