Building an adjustable music stand

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Traditional Vertical Warping Mill

V2 x 30-in. shell auger inserted through hollow tailstock. Wooden handle or Jacobs chuck holds auger as point is pushed into stock. .

Fig. 2: Concealing glueiines

Avoid glue-ups where grain and growth-ring patterns point at glueline.

- When turned, one half looks dark, other half light.

Fig. 1: Boring the housing

Glueline on the quartergrain is less conspicuous.

Copper-pipe T-fitting fits lathe tool rest.

Pipe fits snugly in vi-in. -

Run at slow speed, 800-RPM maximum.

Arrange stock so growtn rings form uniform pattern. ^ft

Scrap used to align square groove during glueup becomes turning mandrel for square spindle.

Fig. 3: Turning hollow spindles

1-in. collar bears against endgrain.

Turn mandrel to friction-fit bored housing.

Bottom of column

Slip-match from side.

Slip-match from the length.

Clip Art Turned Spindles
The dovetails on the legs are cut entirely hy hand. Lay out the shoulders with a marking gauge, then clamp the leg on its side and rough-saw the shoulder, above, staying '/le in. from the line. The wood strip clipped to the saw acts as a depth stop. Next, cut
Woodstrip Canadia
the dovetail slope with a sharp chisel running against a 6-1 angled block, center. Chisel away the waste in two or three steps until you can pare right off the block. Finally, shoot the shoulder to the gauge line with a small plane, right.

housing aligns the pieces during glueup. The scrap piece is also good for wiping glue from the housing.

The centered hole means the blanks must be mounted on a mandrel to be turned. For the bored housing, I turn an 8-in. wooden plug to fit the hole as shown. I plug the square housing with the alignment scrap from the glueup, wedging it to eliminate slop. I cut the other end of the blank to length and turn the column. The cylinder where the legs join the column must be perfectly straight. Check it with a straightedge. If the walls are either hollow or bulbous, the shoulders of the leg joints won't fit well. Also, note how the cylinder profile steps out in. This step, which is almost always present on traditional work, hides any discrepancies at the top of the leg-to-column joint.

To shape the legs, cut a '4-in.-thick plywood pattern of their side profile, including the dovetail. For strength, the grain should run the length of the leg. I fair the legs with a #49 or #50 patternmakers' rasp (available from Jamestown Distributors, 28 Narragansett Ave., P.O. Box 348, Providence, R.I. 02835). If you clamp the legs together with a large C-clamp that can be swung out of the way, you can reach all the edges. The endgrain at the foot and joint are squared with a smooth plane.

The housed dovetail on this stand can easily be cut, as shown in the picture series, with only handtools—dividers, marking gauge, chisels, dovetail saw. carving gouge, a 6-1 chisel block

18 The Best of Fine Woodworking

Pltatu Uli Lani'c Paliers, m

Column Stands

Coping the shoulders requires careful paring. Line up a pattern of the column base with the top and bottom shoulders of the dovetail and trace the curve, top. Carve to the line with a carving gouge.

Fig. 4: Adjustable music stand

Coping the shoulders requires careful paring. Line up a pattern of the column base with the top and bottom shoulders of the dovetail and trace the curve, top. Carve to the line with a carving gouge.

Slanted Leg Vise
After sawing and coping the shoulder at the top of the dovetail, hold the leg against the cylinder, align the centerline of the leg with that of the housing and trace the tail. Shaped blocks secure column in vise.

and a shoulder plane. Cut the tails first and trace them to lay out the housings. Saw '/i6-in. on the waste side of the lines, then cut the slope of the tail by paring with a chisel guided by an angled block. Plane to the line and repeat the process on the other side.

For small cylinders, it's always better to cope the legs rather than make flats on the cylinder, since this leaves more wood between the tails and makes for a stronger stand. To cope the shoulder you'll need a file-folder cardboard template that's the same diameter as the base of the column. Make a mark every 120° to indicate leg locations. Line up the cardboard circle with the shoulders at the top and bottom of the leg and trace the curve. Pare to the line^with a carving gouge (or an in-cannel firmer gouge). Finally, saw and cope the shoulder at the top of the dovetails. Don't worry if you cut too deeply on the insides of the shoulder since these aren't important glue surfaces and the step will hide them. If you really mess up, set your marking gauge a bit deeper, re-mark the shoulders and try again. I usually plane the straight taper on the legs right after cutting the tail. Use a marking gauge to set the finished thickness of the foot and plane to the lines. To hold the leg, cut a hole the shape of the leg

Key minimizes stress on glue joint.


Narrow tails, coped shoulders maximize amount of wood between dovetails.

Cylinder walls must be straight for legs to fit snugly. Check with straightedge.

Turned stem,


This section typical of entire leg.

Spline thickness of saw kerf.

Before assembly, shape curved edges of legs with rasp and scraper.

Pivot pin should fit snugly. Peen ends with hammer to tighten if loose.

Legs butt against 3/32 step, which hides minor defects at top of joint.

Under stress the column will split here before dovetail will break

Pivot pin

Index pin

Chamfer index holes in stem with countersink.

Turn from here down to fit f housing.

From Fine Woodworking magazine (March 198") 63:50-5-1

Traditional Furniture Projects 19

Bed Posts With Colums

After remounting the column on the lathe, finish laying out the joint with a post scrihe. The scribe slides on the lathe bed and draws housing lines parallel to the centerline of the column.

Use a hacksaw to cut just inside the layout lines of the dovetail housing, left, then pare to the lines with a sharp chisel. The waste will come out in long strips. Once the leg goes in an inch or so. use the first part of the joint to guide the chisel to the full length of the housing, right.

into Vi-ln.- to Vi-in.-thick plywood and clamp the sheet to a bench.

Before laying out the dovetail housings, remember that it's important, aesthetically, that the growth-ring patterns of the column be symmetrical to the front legs, and thus centered on the back leg, as shown in the plan. Use your circular pattern to mark out the centers of the housings, and draw straight lines on the endgrain from these marks to the spur center mark. To mark out the dovetails, hold the tail you just cut on the leg against the bottom of the cylinder, align the leg's centerline with the housing centerline and trace the tail with a sharp pencil. Letter each leg and housing, so you can match them up later. To extend these marks, the borders of the housing, down the column to the step, put the piece back on the lathe and set up a post scribe. The scribe rides on the lathe bed, holding a pencil horizontally, so the housing will be parallel to the column's center-line and the legs will fit properly.

When you cut the housing, saw as far as you can, just leaving the layout lines. Chisel out the waste. There's no need for drilling here, since the wood comes out in long pieces and the main glue surfaces are the sides (the depth is less important). To fit the joint, pare to the pencil lines and try the leg. You can see where you need to pare by how the shoulders fit. The leg should go in all the way with just hand pressure.

If the joint is loose at the top, shim the housing with a piece of veneer. A rag stuffed in the housing provides enough pressure to clamp the shim while the glue is drying. The shim gives you a second chance and will not affect the strength of the joint. Use as many clamps as you need to pull the joint tight at glueup. Finally, fair the top of the legs to the column with rasp and cabinet scraper, and cut the decorative chamfers on the bottom of the column by tapping a carving gouge into the end of the column at about 45° to the cylinder sides. Aim toward the center point, or where it would be if extended out from the endgrain.

The desk on this music stand is a rectangular frame with one vertical muntin, to which the ledge and hinge-block are joined. On this desk the frame is mitered and splined, and the muntin is mortised and tenoned into it. You could also use a half-lap joint for the muntin and half-lap miter at the corners. Join the muntin to the top and bottom rails first, since the muntin determines the length of the stiles. The shoulders of the joints are cut-in to miter the cove molding that runs around all the front edges. This means you have to cut the molding on the inside edges of the rails and stiles and on the muntin first, in order to determine the size of the miter and depth of the shoulders. 1 use chisel blocks clamped to the stock to help cut the miters and rail shoulders. I chop the mortises with a proper ii-in. mortise chisel. The corner miters are cut next. I use a shooting board, always clamping each piece to the board. I glue the muntin in. then fit the stiles. After the frame is glued up, the splines are added and the cove molded on the outside front edges. The lower back edge of the frame is rabbeted on the tablesaw to form a tongue that will fit in a groove in the desk's ledge as shown.

The hinge block is next. I start with l3/,-in. stock and cut the 3/<-in.-wide by 2-in.-deep groove in the middle of the block with a dado head. For safety, I use wood at least 12 in. long, dadoing two blocks at a time. The stock for the stem is thicknessed to fit the dado groove. Then the lower 19 in. of the stem is planed or turned, depending on the housing you're using, to fit into the column. I drill the $i«-in. pivot-pin hole and the indexing hole in the top end of the stem about 1% in. apart. These holes will be guides for drilling the hinge block, to ensure that the indexing holes line up.

Draw a line on one face of the hinge-block blank showing the

After remounting the column on the lathe, finish laying out the joint with a post scrihe. The scribe slides on the lathe bed and draws housing lines parallel to the centerline of the column.

Use a hacksaw to cut just inside the layout lines of the dovetail housing, left, then pare to the lines with a sharp chisel. The waste will come out in long strips. Once the leg goes in an inch or so. use the first part of the joint to guide the chisel to the full length of the housing, right.

Leg Vise Stand

If necessary, yott can secure one leg in a bench vise and use a clamp as shown to pull the shoulders tight on the tails.

To ensure that the stem and hinge are properly aligned, use the V,a-in.-dia. hole bored in the stem as a guide for drilling the hinge blank. A screw or pin inserted through the hinge and the stem holds the pieces together while the holes are bored.

depih of the groove. Trace a side-view pattern on this face, lining up on the groove depth line. Also mark the pivot point, then drill the pivot-pin hole on a drill press. A piece of scrap wood fit tightly in the groove helps prevent splintering as the drill goes through. To drill the indexing holes in the hinge block, the stem is lined up against the outside face of the hinge blank, and the pivot pin or a screw is inserted while the holes are drilled through the stem index hole into the hinge block.

I finish the hinge block by bandsawing the side profile, planing the joint and fairing the handsaw marks from the curves with a rasp and cabinet scraper. To mechanically protect the joint between the back of the desk and the hinge block, I chisel recesses into both pieces for a small wooden key, 1% in. long by 1 in. wide by '/4 in. high, and glue the block and key to the desk.

The pivot pin is a plain %«-in.-dia. brass rod, but I add a wooden knob to the brass for the index pin. I run a '4-in. by 20 die on the pin for about Vt in. to cut light threads in the metal. Then, with a little epoxy added, I screw the pin into a %6-in.-dia. hole in the wood knob blank. I then turn the knob with the pin mounted in a Jacobs chuck on the lathe.

A V-block is needed for drilling the column and stem for the height adjustment. I clamp the V-block to the table with the V centered under the bit. The column should be clamped with the back leg vertical while you're drilling the 3/i6-in. hole at the top of the column. The hole doesn't need to go all the way through, but it should go into the other side a little.

To ensure an accurate alignment on the height adjustment, the stem is drilled inside its housing. I put a piece of rod or a 3/i«-in. chainsaw file through the pivot-pin hole, to help line up the front of the stem with the front of the pedestal. (The chain-saw file is useful if any holes need to be relieved later for the index pins to slide easily.) I drill the first hole with the stem all the way in. After drilling the first hole, I put a pencil mark on the stem at the point where it leaves the housing. Then 1 mark

Drill Press Block Images
The stem is bored after being inserted into the housing, which is damped in a V-block on the drill-press table. The chainsaw file in the pivot-pin bole aligns holes with the front of the pedestal.

every 3 in. down the stem from this mark. 1 drill another hole every time the alignment marks reach the top of the housing. The orientation should be checked each time by sighting the rod through the pivot-pin hole.

There is nothing special about the finishing. I often use shellac and/or an oil finish. These music stands are a good meeting place for the creativity of the musician and the cabinetmaker. The artful musician's medium is sound, using instruments to produce sounds that can, as if by magic, attract and move the emotions and spirit of those who hear them. Artful cabinetmakers use wood and tools to build functional forms that attract our eyes and hands, and stir up good and positive feelings about humanity. □

Lance Patterson is a cabinetmaker and shop instructor at the North lien net Street School in Boston, Mass.

Photos this page: Loncc Patterson

Traditional Furniture Projects 21

Decorative Music Stand

I designed this round table to solve a space problem in a tiny apartment my wife and I once shared. Our dining room was a niche surrounded by three walls, leaving far too little space for a rectangular table. A round tabletop on a square leg-and-apron base promised the most usable surface area in the least floor space. I've since built about 30 of these tables, some with up to three removable leaves that expand the top to accommodate more people. Over the years, I've refined the details a little, but the table remains a straightforward piece you can build with minimal tools in a couple days.

The tabletop is 48 in. in diameter, which will seat four comfortably or six in a pinch if you don't wish to add a leaf. You can scale the top and base up or down slightly, but wholesale departure from the dimensions given isn't advisable. The plans call for a 24-in. space between the legs—plenty of room for knees and legs. For a smaller top, you could move the legs a little closer together, but if you scale the top up and widen the leg stance accordingly, spacing greater than about 26 in. will look awkward. Leg spacing is complicated by the fact that a round top overhangs a square base unevenly. As a result, when the apron is viewed from straight on, the table appears to be all overhang; when viewed diagonally, it appears to have too little overhang. By experimenting with a mock-up, I arrived at a visual compromise represented by the dimensions in figure 1. If you need a larger table. I suggest you add one or two leaves instead of gluing up a bigger single-piece top.

Getting started-There are any number of ways to build a leg-and-apron table, but for expediency. I follow a definite order of events, regardless of the method. First of all, I glue up one or more tabletops several days before beginning construction. When I do my weekly errands in Portland, I drop off the tops at a local millwork house where they're sanded to 150 grit on an abrasive planer. This machine sanding is well worth the S20 or so it costs: The tops emerge perfectly flat and ready to finish after a final sanding to 220 grit.

Some woodworkers argue that it's best to glue up a tabletop so the boards' growth rings are either all up or all down, reasoning that any cupping will be easier to restrain if it occurs in the same direction. Others alternate the growth rings, claiming it's better to have several small warps than one big one. Frankly, I don't accept either point of view. I'm most interested in a nice-looking top. so I orient the boards for best color and grain match and let tlie grow th rings fall where they may. So far, I've had no problems with warping. Whether the table will have a leaf or not. I glue up die top in two sections that can fit through the mill's 36-in. capacity sander. For a top without a leaf, I glue the two sections together before marking die circle with a trammel and bandsawing it. Leafed tabletops are clamped for marking, then bandsawn as two halves.

I begin construction of the base by making the legs. Over the years, I've experimented with various sizes and tapers and have finally decided there's no good argument for making the legs thicker than the minimum dimensions needed to support the table. Even the thinnest legs will support vertical loads imposed on a table, so the chief design concern is balancing the legs' visual weight with their ability to resist wobble. On the table illustrated here, the legs taper from 1 V* in. to 1% in. This proportion looks just right with a 48-in.-dia. top. V, in. thick, and it results in a rigid base. For visual balance, a thicker or larger top might look nice with a heavier leg. but I think the table would look awkward with a 2-in.-thick leg.

To save the trouble of crosscutting them individually, I rip all the legs from a single l3/i-in.-thick board cut to the exact

Leg Taper Jig

With a 48-in. round top on a square, leg-and-apron base, the author's table will accommodate four people. Built with three removable leaves, there's room for eight to 10 people.

Tabel Leg Cutting JigJig Tablesaw

The tablesaw jig, above, provides a reliable way to taper the legs. Tapers are cut only on the legs' two inside surfaces.

Fig. 2: Tablesaw taper jig

Top of leg goes here.

Begin with scrap than leg.

Screw acts as stop for minor adiustments.

Position marked-out leg as shown, trace outline on scrap, then bandsaw the angle.

' Start of taper intersects jig here.

Drawings: David Dann

Traditional Furniture Projects 23

For tenoning with a single setup, above, the tablesaw's cutting depth is set to the shoulder depth, the fence (or a stop block) to the shoulder length. With the stock held firmly against the miter gauge, multiple passes form the cheek.
Glue blocks, above, glued and screwed at the bottom edge of the apron bolster the joint against damage from an accidental kick. The author's trademark, a penny let into the leg. dates the piece for posterity. Pulled home with clamps, the tenons, below, are pinned with %-/»». dowels.

Wooden extension slides convert an ordinary table into one that expands. To install the slides, the top is attached to the base and the slides are screwed to the underside of the top. Then the base is removed so the apron rails can be tablesawn, above, using a miter gauge. A scrap taped to the apron acts as a shim, preventing binding during the cut. /I brass latch, below, locks the leaves together.

Wooden extension slides convert an ordinary table into one that expands. To install the slides, the top is attached to the base and the slides are screwed to the underside of the top. Then the base is removed so the apron rails can be tablesawn, above, using a miter gauge. A scrap taped to the apron acts as a shim, preventing binding during the cut. /I brass latch, below, locks the leaves together.

Leg Taper Jig

length of the legs. Each leg is then tapered on the tablesaw with the jig shown in figure 2. If you prefer, you can mark the taper on the leg and handsaw to the line, cm- you can taper them with several passes on a jointer. Keep in mind, though, the tapers are cut only on the legs' two inside surfaces. Position the legs to expose the nicest figure and color on the two outside surfaces. Also, note that the taper starts about 5 in. below the top of the leg, leaving a flat for the apron to bear against.

The apron-As with the legs, the table apron's width is a tradeoff between ergonomics and aesthetics. A 4-in. apron is wide enough to provide substantial tenon shoulders, but not so wide that you bang your knees on it. The few tables I've made with 3-in. aprons look fine, but aprons 5 in. or larger give the table a low-slung, bottom-heavy look. In leg-and-apron tables, the aprons are usually joined to the legs by a mortise and tenon. On older tables, you'll often see a haunched tenon. Even though a haunch will help keep the apron from twisting, I don't think it's worth the extra time required to cut it. Also, the apron is screwed to the tabletop near the corners, which are further braced against twisting with stout glue blocks. Besides, the apron twisting doesn't threaten the joint as much as a swift kick to the end of

24 The Best of Fine Woodworking

From Fine Woodworking magazine (May 1988) 70:54-5"?

the leg does. The glue blocks, positioned at the bottom edge of the apron and screwed into the leg, are good insurance against such a broken joint.

The detail in figure 1 shows the joint dimensions. I cut the mortises on a slot mortiser equipped with a fence and a series of stops. This merns I have to mark out only one of the legs, then use it to set the fence and stops for cutting the rest of the pieces. If you plan to chop the mortises with a mortise chisel, or by some other method that's not jigable, you'll need to mark each joint individually. In either case, take care to cut the mortise in the right place, that is, on the sides with the tapers. And. don't forget to offset the mortises toward the outside of the leg, as shown in figure 1. Mortises 7» in. deep will just meet inside a lV-t-in.-thick leg, and there's really no need to make them any deeper. If you've cut mortises with a router or slot mortiser, you'll need to either square the mortise with a chisel or round the tenon. I've found that rounding the tenon with a knife is a quick, rather pleasant job.

Cutting short tenons—Tenons are easy and quick to cut on the tablesaw. To set up for tenoning, I take a long scrap cut from the stock used for aprons and center it over one of the leg mortises. With a knife, I mark the mortise width on my scrap, then set the tablesaw's depth of cut just shy of the knife marks. Next, I position the fence (or a stop block clamped to it) so it's as far from die inside edge of the blade as the shoulder is long, in this case, }A in. Allowing for a '/«-in. kerf, this produces a %-in.Tong tenon. The shoulders are cut first by firmly holding the scrap in the miter gauge and feeding its squared end against the fence or stop block. To form the cheeks of the tenons, 1 nibble away the waste-in multiple passes, starting at the squared end and working toward the shoulder cut. With both cheeks wasted, I try the fit. If the tenon's too loose, I reduce the depth of cut and try again with another scrap. If it's too tight. I increase the depth until the fit is just right. Because increasing the depth removes material from both sides, make minute adjustments and try the fit as you go.

Assembly—With all the parts cut out, the base goes together in about 10 minutes. I first bore holes in the aprons for the top mounting screws and sand everything to 220 grit. I don't usually dry-assemble a simple piece like this table, but I do check that all the tenons fit snugly into their mortises and that the shoulders seat correctly. At final assembly, I pull the tenons home with clamps and bore '/.-in.-dia. holes through the joint into which l'/i-in. hardwood dowels are driven, pinning the tenon. The dowels arc-later pared flush with the leg surface. You can turn your own dowels or buy them in hardwood species from Midwest Dowel Works, 4631 Hutchinson Road, Cincinatti, Ohio, 45248. At assembly, check two critical things: Make sure the aprons go into the correct mortises, or the holes you bored for the top will be upside down: check the base tor square by measuring diagonally across the inside edges of the legs. If everything looks right, I make up glue blocks, then screw and glue them at the corners.

All that remains is to screw the top to the base. Before I do this, however, I elongate the screw holes with a rasp to give the screws room to move as the tabletop shrinks and swells with the seasons. When drilling the mounting holes, it's a good idea to use a depth stop on the bit. Nothing is more embarrassing—or harder to repair—than an accidental hole through a tabletop.

Adding a leaf-If the table is to get a leaf, I screw the two separate tabletop sections to the base, just as I would a single-piece top. Then, after the table extension mechanism is installed on the

Adjustable Music Stand Mechanism

underside of the top, I remove the base and simply crosscut the aprons on the tablesaw, using a scrapwood shim under the apron so it won't pinch the sawblade. Once the base is reinstalled, the kerf space remaining between the two halves of the apron allows for wood movement. You can make your own extension slides for the table, or you can buy one of the many commercial models available. I prefer a commercially made wooden slide made by Walter of Wabash and available from the Woodworkers' Store (see sources of supply/ For a single leaf, 24 in. wide, use a slide with a 26-in. opening. Two leaves will require a 50-in. opening slide, but the table will then expand to a racetrack shape 8 ft. long, with room for eight or 10 people. The table could accommodate up to three leaves, providing seating for 10 to 12 people, but I wouldn't recommend making it any bigger without a center leg to support the additional leaves.

The leaves should be about 24 in. wide and their length should equal the diameter of the top. To keep the apron from warping and to hide the extension mechanism, fasten short sections of apron rail to the underside of the leaves. To align the leaves, table pins made from tapered dowels should be let into the edges of each leaf. Pin spacing isn't critical, but a 4-ft. leaf should have at least three table pins. To keep the leaves from separating, install table latches under the top and position them so each leaf can be latched to its neighbor.

A final sanding followed by the finish of your choice completes the table. I normally use Watco oil, but if the top will see hard, daily use, lacquer or varnish would be more appropriate because of its durability.

Christian Becksvoorl is a professional fumituremaker and author in New Gloucester, Maine.

Sources of supply_

Table slides, tapered alignment pins and table locks are available from The Woodworkers' Store, 21801 Industrial Blvd.. Rogers, MN 55374,(612) 428-4101.

Table locks and slides are available from Garrett Wade. 161 Ave. of the Americas. New York, NY 10013, (800) 221-2942 or (212) 807-1757 (in NY), and in Canada from Lee Valley Tools Ltd.. P.O. Box 6295. Station J. Ottawa, Ont. K2A1T4, (613) 596-0350.

Lee Valley Wood Movement

End of cleat, 8V2 in. radius

Leave for cla extra t mping bevelina eda

Leg is fully round at foot.

Fig. 2: Table construction directic n

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The Complete Guide To Wood Finishing

The Complete Guide To Wood Finishing

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  • jennifer
    How to build a music stand?
    9 years ago
  • Conner Reilly
    How to build an adjustable music stand?
    9 years ago

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