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Building a pedal board - 3 Print E-mail
Written by Vidar Fagerjord   
Wednesday, 15 October 2008 21:10
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Update 10.05.2009

Time flies! During the last couple of months, I haven't managed to build anything. Work, stress and little motivation. Guess I've had the usual winter blues.

However - the spring is here, and so is my energy and the motivation! I've spent a lot of time doing research and watching youtube videos. In addition, I've purchased the full version of Hauptwerk. I've tuned the Skinner organ so that the naturals and sharps comes from different side - the naturals on the left and the sharps on the right. This lifted the whole experience to a completely new level! You get more fidelity and spacious sound that way.

Anyway, here's what I've been up to building-wise:

I wanted to do a trial on the assembly of a pedal. I prepared the playing surface piece and the pedal (more on how I'm doing this further down), and glued everything together using a glue that expands a little when it cures - fills up any gaps and imperfections nicely. I used a lot of clamps, which helps keeping a straight and flush mounting. Even a slight curvature on one of the pieces will be straightened this way:

I also started on the top-pieces for the sharps. According to the AGO standard, the sharps should be one inch higher than the top of the naturals, and 1.5" at the back (facing away from the player). The playing surface, or the top, should be six and a half inches long. How to get the correct measurements? Divide the piece in two: one square and a triangle for the top. Then use Pythagoras to figure out the measurements (remember? A^2^* B^2 = C2).

Here's a couple of pieces that shows different stages during "production":

The topmost piece shows the raw piece after cutting from the board. The top is planed to remove unwanted saw-marks and to make sure it is flat and at a 90° angle to the sides. In the middle, the edges has been rounded with a router and a rounding bit - just a tiny amount to help making the right curvature on the edges. The tip at the front is well rounded too. The brown piece shows the finished product (needs a few strokes of varnish/lacquer though). I've sanded the edges and rounded off the "nose" of the piece, so that my shoes will glide more easily over the sharps when playing - not good to have sharp edges where your feet are constantly getting stuck... I've added two layers of stain, and will add two layers of clear lacquer with UV-resistant components to prevent fading colors. The color is a blend between dark oak and walnut - the overall look is more walnut, I think.

Here's two images of one octave with the sharps in place (Note the lighter color of the D, F, G and A sharps, as they have only one layer of varnish):

Looks great!

Mounting the playing surface to the naturals

The playing surfaces will be glued to the naturals using a glue that expands slightly during curing, filling any gaps and imperfections. Three wood dowels per pedal will help stabilize the pedal in addition to strengthen the bond between the playing surface piece and the pedal piece.

Here I've placed all the pieces and marked three positions for the wood dowels:

Then I used my caliper to mark the center of each pedal - using the sharp "knifes" on the back of the caliper is great for such jobs. Just press down into the material, then mark with a pencil afterwards so that is is easier to see the spot when you're drilling holes:

Here's a great little tool for marking the center of the holes in the bottom piece:

Just insert into the existing hole, align the playing surface with the bottom piece and press together. All three holes marked in no time! Then simply drill the holes in the bottom piece - the hole will be in the correct position according to the top piece. Note: unless the holes are spaced exactly the same distance from each other, the playing surface won't mount both ways. Better decide which end of the playing surface goes where before the holes are drilled!

Then insert some wood dowels into the holes, check for alignment and you're ready to break out the glue!

I am using 6x30mm dowels, thus the holes are 6mm wide. I drilled 15mm into the playing surface and 17mm into the bottom piece. That way, there is a little room for expanding glue on each end of the dowels. Should you find that the dowels are very snug, you might want to cut a slot in the dowels. This can be a pain-staking operation, so here's my advice: Drill a couple of holes that the dowels will fit into (but not so snug that you can't pop them out with your hands) along the side of a scrap piece of wood. Insert dowels into the holes and use your band saw to cut the slot in the dowels. Then replace the slotted dowels with un-slottet dowels, and repeat the process. Saves you a LOT of time - and possibly some fingertips...

The next step will be to cut the slot where the guide pin will fit into the tip of each pedal, then glue all the pedals. After that, I'm going to make the last sharps (bought less Ramin wood than I actually needed). When all the pedals are glued, I'll sand them off and add two layers of clear lacquer with an anti-UV component to prevent aging and getting that nasty yellowish color over the years. Then there's the frame, the mounting, the electronics... A lot of work, but I think it is safe to say I'm about half-way finished with the pedals. Can't wait to play them! I've a couple of pieces I want to learn - the Böellman Suite Gothique, Lefébrure-Wély's "Sortie" and a couple more. Dozens, actually...

Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 21:15
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