Honors Program

Fine and Performing Arts Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

William K. Hemphill

Thesis Professor Department

Engineering Technology, Surveying, and Digital Media

Thesis Reader(s)

Will Parsons, Scott Contreras-Koterbay


This body of research focused on the development of prototype tooling and manufacturing processes to produce resonators, rims, and necks for building banjos. The resulting fixtures and manufacturing processes were designed for ease of use by a single employee in a small shop environment. This research required proficiency in interdisciplinary mediums (ie. 2D modeling, 3D modeling, centerline tool path program generation, 2D modeling, 3D modeling, rendering, design, and woodworking).

The resonator required development of a matching set of forming surfaces, a bending/gluing fixture, a work-holding fixture for utilizing a wood lathe, and a steam chamber required for bending strips of wood into the sides of the resonator. The rim was made using a block rim method and was made out of three laminations of staves, creating the necessary thickness for the rim. The same work-holding fixture was redesigned to accommodate the rim for turning. The goal for building banjo necks on the AXYZ CNC router was to produce a fully shaped neck out of a single piece of wood. The tall heel and angled headstock made this process difficult and resulted in more material being removed than if the neck had been shaped by hand utilizing shop equipment.

Three resonators were made, one using a non-turning method and two that utilized a redesigned gluing method for creating a scarf joint. While two rim blanks were made, the first was successfully turned, allowing the second to demonstrate how the rim was made. The banjo neck design required many prototypes, both in foam and poplar, and yielded a fully-shaped banjo neck out of maple. In October of 2012, after a year of effort, the three major wooden components were assembled with hardware, creating a working (i.e., playable) banjo.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.

Included in

Manufacturing Commons