Organ bench Print E-mail
Written by Vidar Fagerjord   
Monday, 20 July 2009 20:48
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Today I started on the organ bench. I needed a break from the pedal board anyway - I'm letting some ideas mature while I'm working on the bench.

I started by looking at images of organ benches, and found some design ideas in the Laukhauff catalogue (it can be downloaded from their site - great reference tool!). I then started constructing the bench in Google Sketchup - a fantastic program that's easy to learn. Here's the initial design on the bench:


I'll post some detailed drawings and the Sketchup model when I'm done - there are some areas I need to tweak.

Here's an explanation on the different names I use for the parts:

-Seat (should be obvious...)
-foot rest: the horizontal board running between the legs
-foot: the piece of wood at the bottom of each leg
-leg: the whole side piece
-column: the vertical pieces running from the seat to the foot
-inlay: the piece of plywood inserted between each column
-frame: two long and two short pieces supporting the seat

The basic bench as seen above will get several design elements, such as rounded edges on the seat, contoured edges around the inlay at the sides and so on.

I bought a big piece of red oak which I jointed and planed down to 4.5cm thickness. Then I cut four columns 3cm wide. I cut them somewhat long to enable some tweaking. The overall height on the bench is about 64cm, which should be a very good fit for me. I haven't yet decided whether I should have some sort of height adjustment.

The initial Sketchup layout had some different measurements, so I had to adjust for that when I got the final dimensions on the material I'm going to use.

I also cut the seat from a big piece of oak board with the jigsaw:

I got the piece from a former colleague at a furniture shop I worked in. Originally, it was a cupboard top which got damaged during shipping. One mans junk, another mans organ bench seat!

The front edge has a curve with radius about 18", a measurement I did not concern too much about. From the Laukhauff catalogue I found that on their bench, each end of the curve is about 60mm aft of the center. I placed two clamps 60mm from the edge, one piece of scrap wood at the center point - and placed a long strip of MDF so that it rested on the clamps and on the scrap wood. I then traced the curve along the MDF. It might not be a perfect curve, but certainly good enough. This is after all not a very critical point - the main goal is that the bench gives a little more support at the center. Plus - it just looks nice! Another option is to skip the curve and simply use two straight lines, giving the seat an arrow-like shape.

I ran into a problem when I was about to cut the correct length. One of the edges had a bevel which I needed to get rid of, and the aft edge was a rather long one. I did not want to use the table saw or the power saw, and the jigsaw is too inaccurate. Enter the router and a straight-edge!

The router must be the most versatile tool you can buy! I clamped the straight-edge at the correct distance from my cut-line (distance from the edge of the router base to the side of the bit), and then cut the seat with several passes (NEVER cut more than 3-4mm of material in one pass!). The quick-depth tool most router have is a great asset:

Plunge the router so that the bit touches the surface. Place the depth-stopper on the highest "step" of the "spiral stair" shown in the image above, and tighten. Then turn the "spiral stair" one click counter-clockwise per pass. On my router, each "step" is 3mm, perfect for such jobs.

The final cut is somewhat different - you do not want the cutoff piece to fall or break off! Simply start the last pass so that the router is well clear of the starting edge. Then use a clamp to secure the two pieces. Continue the cut. Before you reach the end, place another clamp so that the other end is supported. ALLWAYS use two hands on the router!!! If your clamp can't reach, use two pieces of scrap wood (one over, one under) and clamp them in place. Then finish the cut. Doing it this way ensures safety, quality and saves you from potential problems should the cutoff piece break off and ruin your precious project!

That concludes today's work. I am going to use mortise and tenons to mount the columns to the foot. The frame pieces will be mounted in the same manner. If you have no idea what I'm talking about - relax, I will post images!

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