Damn, I can’t say I have really enjoyed dual knee surgery all that much. An adventure for sure, but it has cut severely into my shop time, which is not acceptable. An hour or two a day has been about tops for the last six weeks.

But things have been happening down in the shop, and I stagger down now and then to kibitz and get in the way. Lora has been finishing up a new five-string neck for her beautiful old Vega Whyte Laydie banjo. It’s the opposite of boatbuilding in terms of scale, and a bit hard for me to adapt to. But check it out:

We inlayed a bunch of turquoise heishi beads into the ebony fretboard, and are now finishing up the head and nut. Thursday was a big day, as Lora hoped to be playing the banjo Friday evening in Phoenix. Time to, as my mom used to say, “get a wiggle on.” After much deliberation about precise placement we went ahead and drilled in all the tuning peg holes and screwed them in.

Here is Lora filing the string notches into the nut.

We put in the silver stud that holds the fifth string in place, affixed the tightening hardware inside the pot and oiled up the neck. And by god, it was suddenly time to string it.

It sounds pretty amazing, and she made it to the music gathering on time. She said it wow-ed the other banjo players. And the banjo makers!

Meanwhile, BJ has been busy on the Thunder River, when he isn’t skiing or surfing or flying his paraglider. The duties of a retired ski patrol director are vast. Here I am helping a couple weeks ago.

The decks are all in place now and we have glassed the seams where the deck meets the hull, as Jerry Briggs did to the originals.  That’s about it for fiberglass on this boat–at least until a few years go by and a necessity develops. Or not. The old Briggs boats made it close to twenty years without fiberglass, and that was with fir plywood that checks horribly. Meranti mahogany plywood should do far better.

On Saturday I figured I could hobble down and get BJ started on prep for installing the gunwales in a day or two. But things got out of hand. By mid-afternoon we were gunwale-ating. By quitting time we had the right ones done.

But who quits at quitting time? Too much mo. Here I am drilling the bolt holes while Deanna eyeballs the angle of the hole (a critical job). BJ is slamming in the sex nuts.

And…  done.

Gotta say, I was excited to see it happen, but far more excited to have just spent my first full day in the shop since before surgery. I’m back! The knees have finally forgiven me enough to let me work a full day. I mean play a full day. Okay, play a full half-day and half-night.

It’s well past dinner time but I gotta saw that bow post off.