Cap'n Mike Moe's


the S.O.S. Banjo
(Save our Stafforshire)

They are loving pets when treated properly, with the respect that should be given to any animal.


They can be VERY COOL!



The Captain and his wife perform an animal rescue service in FL, specializing in Stafforshire (Pit  Bull) Terriers
He understands the needs for a animal that cannot buy a good reputation


Only a real boat Captain can handle twin Johnson 15 hp outboards,,,,


16th birthday
And we never ever forget them, and the love they give back



 My Daughters Baby "KB"

We all love him to death, he is quite a character and thinks he is a Boston Terrier

And he knows  who is really boss......




Vintage Dale Small
Silverbell style
11" rim
Tiger maple
24 shoe brackets
Unpierced flange, unplated brass

T hoop has some engraving and was plated, I will see if Ron wants to use it and work it into a theme or go another route

Dan Goodrich's
"Tension Lock
View Dan's page here

I've pulled it apart and am in the first stages of polishing the brass for engraving.
Removing swirl marks from the CNC milling was first, now to final polish

Ready for fine compound

I'll wash it all in warm soapy water and dry it off after assembly

Fingers polished, all reassembled and clean

Ready to go up to Ron for some finite work

Prepping the wood  for color - Honey Maple

Preparing to drill out tenon hole
I will use a 3/4 forstner bit

Riffling corners on out

Tint, and one coat of clear sealer to show the grain

Tinted, ready for sealer

Inside , with its fade

Outside, with it's fade.
There was some super glue penetration right on the edge from when DS added on the binding, and it doesn't stain well when that occurs so I have to mask it a bit with the fade.

This is how it will look, now time to add a few more coats of clear while I polish the brass in preparation for engraving
Ron will do the detail painting over the clearcoats, and I will trap the artwork under more coats of clear, as I did on the "Magpie" banjo

I'm prepping the flange for Ron's graving work, and this flange had an old copper flash on it that was rough from sitting unplated for years and I am doing a long and hard machine buff to remove it from just the areas to be graved.
The rest will be handled in the platers vats
That's after about an hour, you cannot get too aggressive and heat it up, or it will distort

Now for the outside of the tone ring

Everything else is new
I'm waiting for a box of 12-24 Stainless steel Anchor screws  for the shoe brackets,so I can do a dry assembly to be certain all new parts are within dimensional standards to match the rim drill outs and drill the flange for mounting to the rim, things like that.
And I'll be getting some sketches together so  Ron will have a rough idea on where we ant to head with this one.

So far good
Tension Lock  Tailpiece will look spiffy on it.

11" medium crown heads will be the standard, I'll use Renaissance, my favorite synthetic


Im going with one piece, Straight grained maple, with a centered 1/8" square rod, non adjustable
Peghead drilled for "Time Capsule"

A Norwegian Coin, 1 Krone, to salute the Capn's heritage

My inits and date, covered by wax paper

Sealed in, and ready to be covered with laminate

Choosing what I intend to use

Reaming the rough holes on out to 3/8

This will be the backstrapping, to match the resonator tiger wood and to offset the straight grain neck nicely

Choosing a scale length template for the fboard

heating up some hide glue

Peghead veneer clamped off

Neck veneer clamped off

Trimmed to profile, ready for ebony overlay


Laying up the ebony/tiger maple backstrapping
The Flame will be horizontal, just as on the resonator and the straight grained neck will set it off on this, and on the heel cap


They will both be stained the color of the rim, shown in the background with a honey amber center

Fingerboard length is 20"

I am determining where I wish the bridge to land, the ruler is merely a placement, not a measurement

This placement will give me a 22 fret with a 26.25" scale upon a 20" fingerboard

Measuring width at both ends

I have sent my dimensions to a custom fingerboard maker  to have an ebony board created and cut to profile
The banjo has black binding on the resonator and I have opted to leave no room for binding, making the custom side markers go directly into the ebony to match the resonator theme.
why add black binding to black wood, I say.

Installing fingerboard

Drilling indicator holes to keep the Fboard from creeping after glue/clamp-up
I'll make brads from brass stock

When you try to press on it with your finger after you make a sharp cutoff, it works just like a cattle syringe, you can drive it right into the side of your finger.

All pins are recessed on the top side, and aligned for easy insertion ,when the hide glue hits it you want to be quick

Sides of board rough profiled

heating up the renderings

all clamps and cauls in place, you want to be ready for a quick clamping

In the heat room, not a good pic of it

now for the peghead overlay

and back under the heat a few days

Excess trimmed and ready to profile
Beginning to profile the maple as well

Ill knock that temporary nut out, that gave me my nut slot.

After scroll saw, the burr will get me close to riffling time

Dialing it on in....

I have to admit that I see an opportunity on some other project, to take that saw cut swirl motif to an Art Deco Pearl that mimics that appearance.

Board smoothed and wooled, ready for inlay
Ok, time for side markers

Nice large ones, MOP... couldn't wait on LEDS

Almost all contouring complete on the sides

Drilled for pegs

Ready to tint, all heated up

Matching the rim assembly colors, Amber Tint and a Tobacco brown fade
First coat  with a sealer of clear

after second coat and with less intense light, closer to real color

3rd coat

What I intend for Ron to do is what he did on Jan Canter's Magpie banjo.
I will overcoat this finish a few times and send it on to Ron and have him make the inlay tracings for the fingerboard and do his paint work on the peghead reverse and heel and have him return it along with the painted rim assembly and unplated hardware engraved and pierced...
I will then overcoat the paintings  on Rim and Resonator and allow that to cure while I work with the Pink Conch shell and get the inlay into the fingerboard and after this.... it will go back to Ron for pearl engravings while I  await the plating work and then all back to me for final finishing and fitting to the rim.
Sounds like fun!

I'm sorry..i can't let it go....:):)

Initial sketches back from Ron...
He was able to ascertain exactly what I was hoping for, from the scribbling I sent him and threw me some rough drafts out for viewing

The dogs will all have the "Softer" look of Cap'n Mike's pups, not the cut ear pumped up look, these are all concepts
Zippy was fond of crushing Pink Conch shells in her day, and Ron will be matching the characteristics and markings with the actual pics of Zippy and the others

We are going with the running dogs on the tension hoop and the paw print flange cutouts.
Ron will do some flowing script around where it needs to be to make things flow.
And  again,...the dogs will look like the Cap'ns
We may end up with a bone in ones mouth, but that's about it

Ron will redraw these stock images now to emulate the actual animals, and I will be able to cut the Pink Conch Shell sent to me by Mike, and if we are lucky it will work as the inlay and Ron can grave them to really look like the real dogs
Also, some may be painted on the rim, or back of peghead, heel, and heel cap we still have places other than the rim to deal with.


We are also working on some ideas for the peghead that can incorporate the Shell..As well.

Getting together the ideas on the fingerboard....

And armrest

And then there was BUNGY...

Who will become the cat that is "under heel"...


See more examples of Ron's work here


Now that is what I call "Walking the dog" !!
The Paw Prints are perfect soundhole cutouts.

The scrollwork makes a nice flow to the work

And here is the flange with the completed graving and ready for plating

All for the want of a bone!


Everything we wanted we got, that's  why Ron is our "Go to" guy.

I know this guy from somewhere...

Brass doesn't stand a chance around Ron!

It will take all 24 hooks to hold this hoop down :)

I requested only what showed after head installation to be engraved and Ron did exactly that

That is what you will see when they are mounted together

Finally, the Goodrich "Tension Lock" tailpiece, all dressed up to beat the Band!

These are welcome additions to any banjo that I have used them on.
It is guys like Ron and Dan that make all this something fun to do and it takes a team effort to get a Mondello banjo out of dry dock!.
Surrounding myself with talent to make me look good..........once again...

Now all this can go in to FQMS for plating, and Ron will be working on the rim/resonator paint work while I inlay the neck.
Wish me luck, everyone knows that's "not my thang"!!
I will have to do a good job, so as not to sully up Ron's great work!


Im using drawings from Ron to make the cutting stencils

Mostly a mix of White and Gold lip MOP, with one Pink Conch that will be...a Pink Conch!

And Bungy will be in black MOP on the heel cap, with a light colored engraving filler for contrast

Getting the sawing done

a lot of flutes on that one very small conch, fingers are still cramping!

Making headway


Flipped over, just to show different MOP colors

  I need  additional 19 fret marker since this neck has a long overrun and will be extended over the head only for "effect"
I'll get Ron to design something

I will shape the extension around this inlay

some tempura for indexing
Soaking the pearl to remove the paper stenciling and glue residue

Inlay lightly glued down

Scribing the periphery


11:00 Am till 12 Midnight, a solid day bent about "writers cramp"!

Cavities routed

Setting the pearl
That Gold lip is GOLD  isn't it?

Filler added around the edges and sealed
Extension cut

After leveling and oiling the board once for highlights

The Pink Conch at 10, is more vibrant than this shows, the lens flash is getting it.
I will await a stencil from Ron on one more inlay for 19, and add "Bungy" on the heel, then I can get this neck off to Ron for more detailing

And here it is....something like the gravings on the armrest


Cut  and ready to glue on and scribe

Ready to go to the heel now, ...get ready for Bungy


The Black MOP is inset here, you have to imagine it with the  gravings for detail that will make it all stand proud when I add gold leaf acrylic for graving filler

And then he will be smoky, goldy and nifty!

I will apply some more clear coats now and then send it on to Ron for Detail graving and paintings

Ron Raymer

Ron shot us some pics of the art with no protective coating on them.
I will receive them in this fashion and I will lay coats of clear Mohawk Instrument Lacquer on top of them and then all of the colors will "Pop"
We will take a run around the rim first!

The pics speak for themselves so I'll just shut up for once...







Oh Man.........when the clear coats hit this it is going to WAKE THE HECK UP!!!
Im grinning like a possum.

This banjo is starting to get really serious now.....:):)

Unless Ron dreams up anything else ,I deem it ready to come on home for some clear coats and a quick assembly with the neck and then the metal will go off to the platers and the neck off to Ron for the final artwork and inlay gravings and then back here to me for the final clear coats just as on this artwork.
We found out in the past that we cannot protect the art with the coating Ron usually uses because of an interaction with the Mohawk so its up to me to get it done and protect his fine work.
The Cap'n will wake up and grin I'm certain....:)

Once again Ron has read our minds and ravings, scribblings and utterances and somehow made sense of it all... pulling it together into a banjo that I'm proud to be associated with.


All in good order, now to get some clear over it straight away.

After 2 coats of sealer

I like this , it makes me think that the Cap'n messed up...   and let his boat drift off and finally got a hook in it and is reeling it back in! LOL
He will NOT be home B4 dark....

Let's mock it up now that it has some protection on it..

Picture it with a Chrome Armrest, Gold Tailpiece Gold Tension hoop,Nickel Tone ring,Gold flange, Nickel hooks and shoe sets.
I like to mix and match and with the price of's sensible as well.
Chrome on the armrest for wear, I do believe in that.


Danged if it doesn't look like a nice Coastal Sunset!
Now to final fit the neck so Ron can get on with his part of this deal and I will work on adding clear for now

During each phase of blocksanding the deep ripples in this highly flamed maple back will slowly disappear.
You have to knock down the high spots and fill the natural concavities.

I will do a setup on the rim now to finish dialing in the neck

 From here you can see the extension is only over the neck notch, not protruding further down

Prepping the dowel for install, I plugged the 2  existing lag holes in the neck.

Glued in with hide glue and adding a little side weight so it dries nice and straight

Building the back neck attachment, the brass plate is temp, I'll have a place for the screw to land  on the final


It will take 2 shell pieces to do this animal.
There will be artwork surrounding it

The blanks we get nowadays are not uniform or large so I have split the head  off at the collar line and that will give me a nice transition.

Body profile cut and smoothed

That's both pieces lined back up on a sheet of paper

He will need to be at this angle to clear the tuner washers as well as being sat straight

routing the cavity

Set and leveled

Dyed the filler edges and shot 1 coat over it, and pulled the lacquer back off the MOP so Ron can engrave it.

Just a  couple of   MOE things to do before it heads to Mr. Raymer

Final fitting the neck and hardware

That's all working as planned so its time to pull it down and get it to Ron

A couple more looks before it all heads out  for final graving, painting and plating

I will not fret this so it is easier for Ron to grave it

We have decided to run a clear head, the inside will look nice when it gets some more coats

I like seeing the brown "Feet" now that the back is on for a look.

Ron Satterfield

Ron jumped right on this and got it back to us in record time

The local guard dog is watching over its finery as I prepare the rim for assembly
He can sense that it is one of his own kind coming together here.

"Paws for the Cause"

He will let his Mom get close to it!

Bearing ring first, as in Silver Bell

Ron did a great job, it all looks sharp as a tack

I will set it up on a Renaissance for now, I looked and had no clear heads in stock so I will change it when one arrives

or maybe not,... they sure look elegant with these colors....
The Shoes and the hooksets are nickel plated, the armrest will be rhodium

I'm almost through with the resonator finish, 1 more coat and I'll wet sand and buff it, Im just checking the fit, the plating and finish always makes things get tighter and tighter
You can see another  of Dan Goodrich's  VTL4Tension lock on a project banjo that may end up being something special, more on that later.

The Tension Lock looks Super good on  here as well

Sorry, I just do not get tired of looking at Dogs!
Now we will see what magic Mr. Raymer works up on the neck art, he has it in his paws as we speak.


And I am Sooooo Glad I got Ron to paint the Conches instead of the inlay....nice eh?

And just look at Karma, she looks like an Alien for sure
The Cap'n  rolled her from her bunk at 2 AM for this shot

These babies just roll around the heel like a curled up dog should

And now we see the black Mother of Pearl in action and my plan comes to fruition, Bungy looks like Bungy





I was trying to contrast the pink shell, it just does not want to photo!




Now when it gets here I'll protect all that, do the fine filling around the inlays and get some frets in it.