Organ bench - 3 Print E-mail
Written by Vidar Fagerjord   
Monday, 20 July 2009 20:48
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Update 24.07.2009

I got some looong clamps, and could do the final "dry-assembly" on the bench, checking the joinery and the layout. I found that the foot rest needed to be moved forward, so I did that. It felt goooood sitting on the bench!

I also cut the edge profile using my router. I did it in three passes, gradually plunging the router to the final depth. It is not a smart idea trying to remove too much material - the result is usually tear out or splintering. In the best case.

The profile is a simple roundover starting in the center of the seat, ending in a 1mm (0.039") "step" up to the surface. I've smoothed that "step" so that it won't be that sharp. Could hurt if it was... The router bit I used has a ball-bearing at the tip. By running the ball-bearing against the profile I cut earlier with the jigsaw, I got a smooth edge around the whole seat.

NOTE! You need to run the router on the end-grain FIRST, so that any tear out will be removed once you do the sides later on. Remember that the edge must be smooth and without bumps or imperfections, as the ball-bearing will copy every flaw there is! On my seat, all edges except the curved front was cut using the router and a straight-edge. They only needed a light sanding prior to the routing. The curved front was smoothed with a plane, starting at the center and planing out towards the ends. By doing it this way, you're going WITH the grain. NEVER go against the grain, or you will get chipouts and tear outs. No matter how sharp your tool is!

I should also note that larger router bits means slower speed on the router. After you've cut the profile to its full depth, you can put the pedal to the metal and do a finishing pass with the router, cleaning the profile for any minor bumps. If you go too fast on slow speeds, the resulting profile will be rendered with tiny "waves". The router is much, much faster than you are with sanding paper, so be lazy!

I decided to go artistic on the foot rest. I am using dovetails on each end. This will make the joint very strong, and it will look nice too. I marked the dovetails on the leg parts, clamped them together and used the router to remove as much material as possible:

This method ensured that the bottom of the dovetail was dead flat. As you can see, I stayed away from the lines. The final cleanup was done by hand: chisel, mallet and patience. Make sure your chisel is scary sharp, and the job is done much easier.

Regarding joinery: Here's how I make my tenons:

I use the router to remove most of the material (usually with the router mounted in the router table), staying away from the line. I also make my tenons slightly too large, so that I can fine-tune them with sanding paper. After the router has done its job, I mark the scribed line with a chisel and then cut the tenon with a japanese pull-saw:

A bit expensive, but that puppy cuts FAST! And very clean, too.

For smaller pieces, I also use my band-saw to do the same thing as with the router. The router is far more accurate, though. The best option would be a well-tuned table saw, but I do not possess such a beast. Sadly.

I sanded off the remaining lacquer from the seat, fine-sanded the surface and cleaned up the edge profile. Time for some color!

I added some white-spirit to the stain to make it thinner - it spreads more evenly that way. I tried applying the stain directly on  the underside of the seat, but that proved to be a can of worms! Uneven, runny... A sad sight, but since it won't be visible I ate my piece of humble-pie and moved on. The seat looks awesome, and apart from some minor touch-ups, it should be ready for lacquer in a few days. There was a few places where the stain didn't cover up, possibly due to some remaining lacquer in the pores of the wood. I certainly recommend using material without any sort of old finish.

A couple of coats with the clear lacquer, and the seat should be ready for service. I'm going to do a final sanding on the rest of the bench, and start gluing. Then I have to stain and add lacquer, screw the seat onto the legs - and I can bring my own, self-made organ bench home!

Woodworking is certainly a rewarding hobby!

PS: Remember to use protection when you're working with power tools and wood! Eye, ear and respiration! Even if you look like a goof - better to be a healthy goof than a sick hunk!

Check'mah shades, man! I am your father!

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