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Building a pedal board - 10 Print E-mail
Written by Vidar Fagerjord   
Wednesday, 15 October 2008 21:10
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Building a pedal board
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Update 01.11.2009

It's been quite a while since the last update on this part of the project. In the meantime, I've finished the key stack and the organ bench. I decided to put the pedal board on hold for a while for several reasons. Firstly, I was kind of fed up with the pedal board and had discovered a few snags that I needed to figure out. I was also fed up with having three keyboards stacked on top of each other - the topmost kept sliding down when I played. And I needed a higher seat to play comfortably. Thus - I made the key stack and the organ bench.

While I was working on the bench and the key stack, I did some work on the pedal board. I didn't take images of everything I did, since I mainly trimmed and shaped various parts to fit.

I made some L-shaped blocks for mounting the curved toe board to the frame. The blocks are fastened with a wooden dowel and a screw. The dowel goes into the frame much like the steel dowel pins. I did not glue the block to the frame since I did want to be able to alter the design should I need to at a later stage. In retrospect, that proved to be unnecessary.

Here's a close-up of one block and how the curved toe board is mounted.

And that's pretty much how the pedal board was left since the summer. But the work has continued!

I needed to complete the toe board and add a "step" to the frame so that I can rest my feet there - it makes playing the third manual much more comfortable amongst other things. I cut a thick oak plank to length, then routed a groove for a curved panel board to fill the gap between the plank and the curved toe board. I used the leftover piece of Ramin wood from when I made the curved frame pieces (never throw away cutoffs until you KNOW you don't need it!). Another purpose for the foot rest is that it adds support to the curved toe board, which will hold the combined force from all the pedal being pressed up by the springs. In addition to the forces involved when the pedals slam up and down during playing.

I fastened the curved board to the oak plank with wooden dowels and glue. Before I glued the pieces together, I did a dry-assembly, marked the curve from the curved toe board on the ramin board. I then sanded the board to shape. Fits like a glove!

Here's a picture of the foot support and how it's going to be mounted. I screwed two scrap pieces from the pedals (the tips I cut off) to the frame and then simply screwed the foot support to the two pieces. Simple and effective! I'll add an image of that later on.

I also routed a curved profile to the foot support. It covers two goals: it looks nice and the edge won't be sharp to the feet (I do not play with shoes all the time...). Plus - a curve on the edge prevents the edge from being damaged or splintered during use.

I then whipped out the stain and stained the frame one coat. I still need to add another coat to get the color and coverage I want, then I'll add a few coats of clear lacquer.

Time for another dry-assembly in order to see that everything turns out the way I wanted. Here's an image of the whole frame assembled:

An image of the foot support/toe board:

Underneath the foot rest there's now a little "room" where the electronics will be mounted. I also need to mount felt under the curved toe board and on the curved frame piece so that the pedals don't make a lot of noise. I also need to mount leather in the slots at the tip of the pedals. I will do that at a very late stage - the workshop is not exactly very clean. Dust and wood chips everywhere, despite my best efforts to vacuum and clean...

Here's an image of the middle pedals. Note that I've mounted the springs underneath C2-F2. I needed to check how the pedal action will be. Turned out great - the resistance is perfect and there's literally no lateral play in the pedals! When the leather is added, they will be very stable sideways. I also discovered that the springs makes much noise, so I need to address that.

If you look closely on the curved panel I made from Ramin wood, you'll notice a lot of shading and color differences. Happened by accident, but turned out great! Ramin is a very "clean" wood, especially compared to the highly figured oak. When I applied the varnish, I needed to thin the varnish in order to get it to spread evenly. I grabbed a bottle and discovered too late that it was Acetone, not White Spirit. The stain can be thinned with White Spirit. Not Acetone! The result, however, was a nice and textured surface on the Ramin wood, which otherwise would have been very plain. Now it looks like it's supposed to be like that.

Just like champagne - discovered by an accident!

And finally - the pedal board mounted! Note that C2-F2 is higher than the rest of the pedals due to the mounted springs. Can't wait to get the pedal board home! It looks gorgeous!

It's been a long road; a year has passed and a LOT of hours has been spent in the workshop. Take another look at the image above, and compare to the initial plan I had:

There's not much work left to do on the pedal board now. What a relief!!! As soon as I get it home and have played my setup for a while, I'll start planning my console. I'll spend the winter playing and planning, then I'll start building the console next summer.

I also need to make a few "cover pieces" to hide some mistakes here and there. Why not cover a mistake with a decorative piece? Cheating a little can be nice in some cases...

will rest higher in the frame. Can't wait to see how the frame will look once I get some stain on it. Bet it will be gorgeous!

Update 03.11.2009

I've applied the last coat of brown varnish, and this weekend I'll apply the clear lacquer. I also made a "compartment" at the front of the frame to house the electronics.

Here's an image of how I fastened the foot rest to the frame:

The small piece of wood is screwed to the foot rest, then I drilled holes through the frame and the small wood piece. I counter-sunk the holes in the frame and screwed two screws from the outside. I used the same method to fasten a plywood sheet that I cut to size to form the "floor" in the compartment.

I screwed the plywood to two of the toe board supports. The middle toe board support was too low, so I cut away some material in the plywood sheet to make room for the middle support. I also used the router to make a groove for a long support thingy at the center. I plan to mount some fibre board to cover the back of the compartment once the electronics is installed:

The inside of the fibre board will be lined with some asphalt sheets I have from an old computer case modification (I used the asphalt sheets to stop the side panels in the case from rattling around). The asphalt sheets have tape on one side - very easy to install.

I haven't decided on a method for mounting the electronics yet. I need to be able to adjust each reed switch in order to get the exact "speaking point", which should be when the pedal is pressed half way down.

Not much work left! And boy do the pedal board weigh a lot! I haven't weighed it yet, but it must be 50-60 kilos (110-132 pounds)! I could barely lift it up on the work bench when all the pedals was installed. Ah, well - that means it won't move around when I play Bach's Pedal exercitium...



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