Small Project: An Improvised Tuning Peg

Well folks, banjo disaster struck again, though unexpectedly this time: I managed to break one of my tuning pegs while trying to push it further into its receiving hole:

A sadly broken wooden tuning peg.

Fortunately for me this was the fifth (drone) string, so I could still practice my chord shapes and a bit of technique, but it was a kind of a bummer to do so.

Since my whittled guava-wood bridge is working so well, I decided to just carve a new peg out of a piece of guava. I took an appropriately sized waste piece from my in-progress joiner’s mallet (more to come on that shortly):

A rectangular piece of guava wood, held in a hand.

I cut it roughly to size using my saws. I then used a thick pencil and the glued-together old peg to trace an approximate shape. From there I whittled the blank down and repeated the process with a finer pencil. At a point in the process where the peg was still rather square and blocky, I drilled the string-hole with the smallest drill bit I could find. Once It began to fit into the receiver, I cranked it (without a string!) in the receiver to make the high spots shiny and glossy from the friction. This told me where to remove wood from in order to let the peg further through the receiver. I perhaps took this process a bit too far, as the peg ended up going through a bit further than originally intended.

A tuning peg, clearly hand-carved by an amateur.

…yeah. It’s even uglier than the bridge; not my proudest piece of craftsmanship. But, hey, it works too! It’s just a hair harder to manage than the original peg, but my excessive zeal in shaping the taper is turning out to be a boon: the higher string height on the fifth string has lowered my volume when playing it, which had been a bit of an issue before.

I’m a bit tickled to have a banjo that I not only assembled myself, but now relies heavily on parts that I made for it from scratch. It looks a little janky, but I think it’s got a bit of charm that way.

The back of a banjo neck, showing the carved tuning peg in contrast with the originals

Thanks for reading, and take care!

~slothbear, 06/04/2022

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