Introduction to the Project

I had been experimenting with recording the trumpet for some time, and I finally hit a magic recipe for mic placement and such that captured the kind of sound I was after. Part of this recipe was a big music stand I cobbled together out of junk.

I took the base off a broken coat rack, cut off a piece of angle iron and pop riveted it to a piece of flat bar stock. Then I bolted a pointed piece of scrap walnut to it. I made a music desk out of a piece of 3/4" birch plywood from a recycled public library magazine rack my father bought for me at some government auction for $5 and gave me to salvage. It was hideous, wobbly, but free, and it was wide enough and deep enough to hold about four reams of paper.


This only shows a bit of the top, but you can see that the stand was really too low to use comfortably while standing. (Though the height might have been a piece of the magic. Something about deadening or redirecting reflection just right.)

The base is missing, destroyed in an attempt to rebuild and repair it, but this shows how I made the attachment to the threaded stud coming out of the top of the coat rack base. What a mess, but it worked for several years.

In the middle of the recording project, I broke the Frankenstand. I swapped it for the Manhasset M48 I keep in my son's room, and it changed the magic. Thus I started looking for another wooden music stand, to get the magic back.

After shopping around, I didn't see much I was interested in buying at a price I could justify, though I did particularly like Mr. Standman's work, and I drew some inspiration from him. I decided that while I have never built with this combination of complication and size, I really ought to make myself a music stand, being a woodworker after all.

I sketched out the design in a notebook while I was laid over for 16 hours at work. I was already thinking of a stand with two desks, to store my music, but I decided to pattern my music desk after Mr. Standman's "Modern Classic" design, because I liked its simple lines the best out of all that ornate work he has done. I am also in the process of flagrantly ripping off his design for a desk pivot mechanism. My original sketch calls for a simple angle like my Frankenstand had, but I didn't like the angle on the Frankenstand, and when I copied the angle the metal stand always stays set at, I can't cut that angle without building a special jig of some sort. It makes more sense just to make a pivot. Maybe I will want to pivot it someday.

The following pages detail my progress on this project, beginning on the second day. I didn't get the idea to document my work in progress until after I had already built the feet. I borrowed my mother's old digital camera, and have started leaving it in the shop, and taking pictures of little waypoints. I'm finding I quite enjoy this, and wish I had been doing it for years. I never think to take a picture of anything until it's complete, finished, and in the house.


These are some bits of the feet, showing a detail of what they looked like before they were feet..

This is the original sketch I did cooped up in my truck in Fayetteville on October 2nd, 2006, dreaming of being home and in the shop. I was hundreds of miles away from any available internet connection, and pulled this out of my head. The design I came up with wound up being radically different from Mr. Standman's concept, which is just fine with me. I am nothing if not original. I don't play other people's music either.


Here is a view of the pointy toe on one of the feet, next to a second sketch I did to show my kids what the bits in the first sketch were going to look like assembled.

Amazingly enough, it resembles the sketch. I love the worm tracks or whatever in the grain on this toe, and have decided to have this one point toward the user.

This is my shop at a glance. It is very small, very crowded, and very cluttered. I just don't have any place to store all manner of things, and I'm always having to shuffle things around.

I've been through a struggle with hand planes. I love hand planes, and they're small, and compact, and ideal for this small, compact shop. However, getting a board dead flat and an edge dead square is a lot harder to do than it looks in books. Every project I've ever done has suffered from boards that weren't really quite flat and not really quite square. I bought a benchtop jointer to solve part of this problem, figuring I could continue to thickness plane by hand, and get results that were good enough.

With one face mechanically flat, you can put that to the inside of a box, or put that face down on a saw table, and make accurate cuts, and accurate joints, even if the other face is a little off. That worked OK, not well, until the day I put the wrong face down, and my flat face was my outside face, and the ugly face I wanted to hide inside was the irregular face. Sigh. So I sucked it up and bought a mechanical planer to avoid mangling that project.

With the planer in my arsenal, I noticed my boards were jamming up halfway through, because they were wedge shaped. I had never noticed. That lead to a protracted battle with my benchtop jointer, trying to get it adjusted into some kind of shape. I lost, and it lost too. I dumped it and bought a real one, which necessitated putting the planer, jointer, and table saw on wheels, because I have no room to leave any of them in one place.


I measured the Manhasset M48 to get a rough idea of dimensions. I tend to make parts to the size of whatever I can get out of the board I start with, and go from there, making everything relative. In this case, I wanted some ballpark targets to shoot for, to make sure the stand would have a usable range of motion, and be wide enough to accommodate four sheets of music.

This little storytelling shot shows some tools of the trade for measuring, marking, and crosscutting to break down the long boards into rough stock I can work with in the shop. As you can see, it is impossible to crosscut a 12' board on the table saw in that shop, so I have to do it some other way. I have used a circular saw, but I really hate those things, so I have decided to practice doing it by hand until I get good at it. Marking all four faces of the board is greatly helpful in developing this skill, and the saddle square from Lee Valley is an ingenous and invaluable tool in getting this job done. Like many tools from Veritas, I wonder how I ever got along without this thing.


Here's one I nailed. I had to show the square like this to avoid overexposing the shot with backlight, but this one is dead on. They weren't all dead on, but I did pretty well for the first time I had tried to hand cut a board in years.

This is an example of making things relative to the board. I wanted these parts 27" long, but it wasn't going to happen unless I cut up my one extra long, extra wide, extra figured piece of walnut, and that has a future as some fancy box. So I ripped them to 3.5" wide, and just shaved them enough to get them square, then cut the other three to the same length as the shortest of the four.


I can't believe I paid money for winding sticks, but I really like these.

This is one of the reasons why. It's a bit like using a gun sight. Look through the back at the front with everything else out of focus. The machined silver faces with graduated lines are very handy for gauging twist. This board is pretty flat, just has a tiny amount of cup. It's going to be part of the music desk.


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