An Easily Made Banjo
As a rule it is not easy to make a musical instrument, but recently we constructed a toy banjo which many boys may care to imitate. By chance we saw an empty biscuit tin lying on the kitchen table. It was circular in shape and about 4 inches in depth. We picked it up and wondered what could be made with it. The idea of a banjo flashed across our mind, and in less than an hour a banjo it became. This is how it was made.
The lid was taken off and two gaps, each 2 inches wide and I inch deep, were cut out of the side of the tin, diametrically opposite each other (See diagram A). It will be noted from the diagram that the metal, from the gaps, was not completely severed from the tin but bent back along one side.
Next a length of wood 2 inches wide, ½ inch deep, and about 2 feet long was procured. It was placed across the openings in the tin. The length of wood was allowed to project about an inch through one hole of the tin and about I4 inches through the other. In order to prevent it slipping out of position it was fixed to the tin, as shown in Diagram B, by means of two nails. After that a piece of parchment paper was wetted and stretched across the opening of the tin. It was held to the side by means of thin string; also a strip of paper was pasted all round to hold the string and hide the round edges of the parchment. A coat of black paint was applied to all the surfaces, except that of the parchment.
The next thing was to bore four holes near each end of the wooden stick and to join them up, using four pieces of good string for the purpose. A little arch or bridge of thin fretwood was then cut and forced under the strings at a point little below the centre of the parchment. The banjo was complete, and each string, when plucked, gave out a good note. If it is desired to tune the strings in order that they can be played, it will be advisable to construct them of twine of different thickness or of wire, and to arrange for them to be of different lengths. It is then possible to bring them all into tune.