Minstrel Banjo

For enthusiasts of early banjo

I've got the head installation procedure with hooks down pat. I have no idea how to install a tackhead. Is it something a mediocre shop student like myself could handle?

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Easy. Get a goatskin thicker than paper but thinner than cardstock. Watch out, some are as thick as posterboard!! Drill some holes a little smaller than the width of the shank of your tacks all the way around your rim, about 3/4" from the top edge, about an inch apart. Smear yellow glue 1" down the outside of the rim. Use blue painters tape wrapped all the way around the rim to keep the glue from going down the side. With the glue freshly smeared on, run in to the bathtub, where your skin has been soaking for 20 minutes, take it out and roll it up in a towel and squeeze it so it's not dripping wet. Drop the skin down onto the rim. Put two tacks in, side by side, at the 12 o'clock position. Pulling HARD on the skin at the 6 o'clock position, put 2 tacks side by side in there. Now take your rim over to your workbench where you have a 2 x 4 clamped down and extending off the edge of the bench as far as your rim is deep. Make sure the 2 x4 is 4" vertical. Hang your rim on the 2 x 4  and pound in the tacks, pulling hard on the skin as you go. When you're done, get a brand new Xacto blade and trim where the blue tape edge is, about 1" from the edge. When the skin is all trimmed, remove the tape. Get a wet old washcloth and go inside and turn on the TV. Sit down with your rim and start pushing the skin down between the tacks. It wants to pop up because of the skin being damp. Go around and around. Use your wet rag to wipe off glue that squeezes out. If there are stubborn dry areas, put a little glue up in there. Pretty soon the skin starts to dry and lay down and you're done. Go back out on the bench and pound the exposed tack points over. Stand the rim up and when you hammer, be sure you're hammering on the tack point of the tack which is touching the benchtop. If you don't you may break the rim apart unless it's exeptionally rigid.

I dunno about the "easy" part...but I suspect it's like putting on a head with hooks, you just have to practice it a little to get good at it.  I'd like to be able to watch you do this once for good "measure."

It was an interesting experience to be sure!  The trickiest part for me was getting the head to glue down between the tacks.  It didn't end up extra pretty, but not so bad.  I ahd issues trimming as well - might have been my "angle of attack" I dunno.  You can do it Carl!

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