broken heel

Strengthening A Repaired Banjo Neck

Glueing the heel

Glueing the broken heel on this banjo neck is the easy part. Thing is, the tensioning rod can put this glued-in section under a lot of strain so a simple glue-up’s not going to do the trick on its own.

I’ll need to help it out

Section showing how a dowel will be inserted to strengthen the repaired heel

So: Our old friend the spline. In a different form, this time.

I drilled two holes, at an angle, from the heel into the repaired section (being careful not to drill too far and out the bottom—that’d suck).

The dowel ends can be seen (the lighter ovals)

Then, I glued a couple of hardwood dowels in to the holes. The dowels protrude from the ‘good’ section to the repaired section, giving strength to help prevent that section shearing off under tension.

Back together and holding well. Time for tea. 

It's stayed in one piece under tension. Excellent.

Heel Repairs

This is the heel of an Ovation. Well, it was anyway. A bit of a tumble had left the neck dangling from the strings while the heel portion remained solidly bolted into the neck-block.

Strong bolts, at least.

This is a pretty straightforward repair. Plenty of glueing surface should make for a strong joint and the break along the grain is extremely clean and easy to reassemble.

That said, I'm playing it carefully on this one. I've seen a number of Ovations break in this location so I've decided to strengthen this joint when it's glued up.

First, though, it's necessary to glue it. The only difficult part of this repair is ensuring a good clamping pressure while the glue cures. The ovation heel is angled which makes it a little more challenging to clamp it down.  As luck would have it, my previous experience with Ovation neck-heel breaks has left me with a custom-made clamping caul for just such an occasion.

Pop a fingerboard caul underneath, glue it up and I'm ready to clamp away. The clean break nicely aligns itself and doesn't require any lateral clamping to stop it slipping about.

After the glue dries properly, I'll reinforce this break a little by drilling a narrow hole—from the inside of the heel either side of the tenon—deep enough to go through the repair into 'good' wood. I'll epoxy a couple of thin steel shafts into the holes to provide extra strength to the repair. The shafts are pretty small and thin but they're strong. They should help make sure this neck never breaks in this spot again.

A bit of a finish touch up and this Ovation lives to fight again.