Have been building several minstral banjos and it occures to me that the dowel stick could easily be built as an integral extension of the neck... This would avoid the obvious difficulties with an accurate joint between stick and neck. The beauty of wood being that if the dowel stick bends at some point it can be steam bent back into shape (as in bent wood furniture). So I am wondering why the dowel stick is not integral to the neck in any banjo that I am familiar with. There is so little string tension in minstral banjos that I would think there should be no structural problem with this method.
Perhaps ease and cost of shipping could account for the removable dowel stick. Also in manufacturing the separate dowel stick most likely means a more efficient use of wood. So I guess I have answered my own question.... But I may just try building a dowel stick as an integral extension of the neck, out of pure curiosity.... Just kind of thinking out loud.
If the old dowels were put in with hide glue, I doubt if anyone but luthiers could get them out. But I think, yes, you answered you own question.
I never use the round plug method. I make full length neck and stick, or the Stichter joint, as I call it, or this...
look closely (courtesy of the database)....talk about solid!!...........
I used a one-piece for my first gourdy. Really a b*tch to make the heel match the spherical surface of the gourd, esp since I chose a club-heel (a la Dobson). The dowel took a dive to the left and would not straighten out. So, the dowel exits the back of the gourd a bit on the low side but if I tie the strings so that they exit on the top side of the dowel, it all lines up.
Next time, it will be a two-piece...unless the next one is an ekonting. ;-)