Organ bench - 4 Print E-mail
Written by Vidar Fagerjord   
Monday, 20 July 2009 20:48
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Update 07.08.2009

I've worked on the finishing on the bench seat, and decided to be a little bit artistic:

Marquetry is a very interesting and intricate form of woodworking, where different pieces of wood are cut and put together like a jig-saw puzzle. I wanted to dress up the bench a little, and thought that a little note in one corner would be the icing on the cake. I wanted the note to be light, since the bench is dark. I started by finding a picture on the 'net of a note with a form I liked. I then printed it on paper, taped the paper to a piece of Ramin wood (the same material I am using for my pedals) - and then cut the note with my scroll-saw.

I then taped all the pieces I cut away around the note-formed cutout, and cut a 1.5mm thick slice from the stack with my band-saw. I then trimmed and shaped the rough cut with a scalpel and sanding paper. I placed the piece on the seat, adjusted it to a 45° angle about an inch from each edge. Using a sharp pencil, I traced the outline.

To remove the bulk of the wood, and to get consistent depth, I used my trusty router at the slowest speed with the smallest straight-bit I have. It was too wide for the most narrow parts, so I used the scalpel and my fathers scary-sharp wood-carving tools to cut away the remaining wood. The end result was a very snug fit! I then applied glue to the groove and put the inlay in place. I used a clamp to press it firmly in place. The router got away from me at one point, but I mixed some glue and some wood-dust and crammed the mix into the clearings. I then rubbed wood-dust all over it in order to achieve two things: remove excess glue without smearing it all over the place (wood-dust is fantastic for that job!) and to fill any gaps.

I left the piece over night, and then used a splinter to "draw" around the edges of the inlay with stain. Covered the small errors up pretty good!

There was a few places where the stain did not cover the seat good enough, and there was a few pieces of wood that got onto the seat. I used the card scraper and some sanding paper to clean those up, and stained the areas using thinned-out stain and a piece of sponge. The end result was perfect!

I'll let the stain harden over the weekend before I add clear lacquer. I'm going to apply at least five coats so that the surface will take a good amount of wear over the years.

Update 15.08.2009

Just a quick update to show more of the inlay. I've worked on the pedal board frame while I wait for the lacquer to harden thoroughly. I've applied one coat lacquer to the underside of the seat, and will add another coat before the seat is finished.

The inlay sits proud of the surface by about .8mm (0.0315") and is rounded over on all edges. It creates a very nice effect and adds that little extra to the bench.

The next task will be to sand and glue the two legs. After that, I'll glue the long "stretchers" and the footrest. The footrest will be reinforced in order to minimize flexing. Then I just have to apply the finish (one coat of brown varnish and two coats of clear lacquer), and the bench is completed!

Update 25.08.2009

The bench is nearly completed! I've glued the frame and added the varnish. Two coats of clear lacquer, and the bench is ready for service.

I reinforced the footrest with a leftover pedal piece by gluing and screwing it onto the bottom of the footrest.

I rounded the edges over with the table sander in order to get a nice look to it:

This proved to be very sturdy, and the footrest does not "give" as much anymore. A little flexing is okay, though.

I then proceeded with the task of gluing the leg parts together. To avoid having glue all over the place, I masked off the parts with tape. The glue I'm using expands during curing - in fact, it "foams up" quite a bit when the excess glue gets into the open (inside the joints, the glue stays solid).

By masking off the joints, the excess glue could easily be removed. I removed the tape when the glue was nearly hardened - saved me a lot of sanding!

In the image above, you  might notice a few pieces of wood sticking out at the top. I used some scraps to fill the mortises, which I accidentally cut too deep. Worked like a charm, and the legs became VERY sturdy!

After the glue had hardened over night, I glued the horizontal stretchers and the foot rest - and the frame was completed!

Gotta love looong clamps...

In the image above, you can spot the reinforcement under the foot rest. I placed it a bit forward of the center in order to make it less visible. After all - the bench will only be seen from behind or from the sides.

And here's my solution to running glue:

A piece of paper taped to the leg. I also made a "pocket" at the bottom so that the glue wouldn't drip all over the place. I removed the tape and the paper when the glue was dry to the touch, and this resulted in very little sanding.

I was not happy with the dovetail joinery I did on the footrest - it became way too dominant. I therefore cut two pieces of oak, cut a 45 degree bevel at each end and sanded "facets". I then slammed a brad nail into the leg parts, added glue and clamped the pieces in place:

The idea was to mimic the aft of the pedal's playing surfaces, and I think it came out just perfect.

Then I whipped out the stain and added two coats of walnut / dark oak varnish to the frame, matching the color on the seat.

The stain I'm using does not spread evenly very easy, but I actually like the variations in coverage. When the clear lacquer is added, the overall effect gives a very nice look.

In the future, I'm going to use alcohol-based stains. The stain I've used on this project (Liberon medium oak) is a polyurethane stain, and I find it pretty hard to get an even coat with it. I thinned the stain about 15% with white spirit, but the downside is that it becomes very "runny". An alcohol based stain is much, much easier to work with - even though it dries very fast, so you don't have much time to work. But a couple of thin coats usually gets you there, and with a very even and nice finish.

Anyway, two coats of clear lacquer, some felt pads under the legs and a few screws and reinforcements - and the seat of course - and my own, self-built organ bench is ready for service! Can't wait!

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 May 2010 16:53
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