Tag Archives: workshop

A Five Year Hiatus

As I write, it’s May 2020 and the coronavirus lockdown is ongoing.  It’s been just over five years since I last ran a banjo building workshop, during the 2015 Easter holidays at Forfar Academy.  For one reason or another, my planned build at Forfar Academy the following year didn’t go ahead and I haven’t re-visited the project for some time.

If you’re a teacher in a secondary school in or near Dundee: Angus; north Fife; east Perthshire; and would be interested in having me run a banjo building project in your school please get in touch.  I’d also consider further afield depending on travel time / arrangements.



2016 Banjo Project – Forfar Academy

Commencing after the Easter Holidays, on 12th April, a small number of pupils will have the opportunity to build their own banjo, from scratch.

Workshop time will be programmed on Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays, immediately after the school day.  The cost will be £45 per person in total.  This covers materials and banjo hardware used.  The school may be able to subsidise this figure.

If you’re interested in building your own banjo, come along to an initial meeting in room 521 on Wednesday 9th March, to learn more.



Scott Nicoll, Daniel Gough and Robbie Ferguson with their completed banjos.

Easter 2015 Workshop at Forfar Academy

The first Banjoworks workshop ran during the school Easter holidays, over nine days.

  • Three S1 pupils (twelve years of age) and one former pupil attended.
  • Two of the pupils, Daniel Gough and Robbie Ferguson, built their banjos, start to finish in the nine days.
  • One pupil, Scott Nicoll could only attend during the five days of the second week.  He was provided with a partially formed neck, which allowed him to complete the remainder of the instrument within the time he had available.
  • The former pupil, Blair Robertson, attended during the first week.  Unfortunately, his employer altered his work schedule for the second week and he was therefore unable to attend to complete his banjo.  The partly completed components have been stored, in case he has the opportunity to attend a future workshop, to complete his banjo.
  • Faculty leader Bob Baldie was available throughout, and helped Robbie and Daniel prepare CAD drawings to laser cut their peg head inlays.

Links to Photos

Daniel Gough's Banjo

Daniel Gough’s Banjo

Daniel completed his banjo over nine days during the school Easter holidays, 2015.

  • Daniel made a great job of the instrument.  It plays well and feels good to hold.
  • The neck is built from layers of hardwood, including poplar and meranti.
  • The peg head has a meranti veneer with a poplar inlay.  He laser cut a skull motif inlay for it.
  • The rim /pot was brick-built from various hardwoods and turned on the wood lathe.
  • Daniel chose to stain the calf skin with coffee, to achieve a deep brown colour.

Poster, Forfar Academy

Easter Banjo Workshop at Forfar Academy

The first banjo workshop will run during Easter holidays 2015 at Forfar Academy.

Numbers will be limited to ten pupils, from S2 and S3.  An initial meeting, to introduce the project to pupils, will be held in room 521 at 1.15pm on Wednesday 18th February.

An introductory letter for parents is available to download here.

A parental consent form is available to download here.


Activities Week at Royal High School

Royal High School ‘Activities Week’, May 2012

This project is the blueprint for what I hope will be achieved with BanjoWorks.

In May 2012, the normal teaching timetable at The Royal High School, where I then taught, was suspended and pupils were given the opportunity to try other activities. I offered eleven S2 and S3 pupils the chance to build a banjo in five days.  Nine out of the eleven completed their instruments by the end of the week.  The two who didn’t were each absent due to illness for at least one day during the week but completed their banjos afterwards.

To ensure that pupils would succeed in completing their banjos within the week required a fair amount of preparation and a small amount of pre-building by the teacher.  A more realistic, leisurely time frame, with pupils carrying out almost all work themselves, is probably seven to eight days.

Some workshop photos were taken during the week and are available at Royal High CDT’s Flickr account:


Sixth year pupil Stuart Clark visited the workshop on the Friday and made the following video recording:

The week after the event, some of the pupils assembled to have group photos taken.  Here is a video recording made then:

Here are two group photos:

Banjo week participants, June 2012

Banjo week participants, June 2012

Banjo week participants, June 2012

Banjo week participants, June 2012

Photos and video recordings of pupils’ banjos are available as follows:

Robert Ody

Iain Lowther

Stefan McGee

Felix Allan

Michael Hackett

Juliette Goddard

Marcus Watt