My client is a piano player by avocation. He is very good and once had a great band that wrote their own songs, but never got that big break. So now he has a different profession, and wants to write and produce songs at home. He built a small studio to do that. He owns a Steinway grand piano (the dude can play!), but wants an electronic keyboard he can use for different sounds. So he bought one and now he needs a stand for it. That’s where I come in.
This is the Kawai VPC1 Virtual Piano Controller. In the background there, is Jason, my musician client. What makes this keyboard ideal for him is that it has the same wooden key feel as a mechanical piano, with a MIDI output he can interface with a PC. My stand will be built to accommodate this.
The Stand – Fundamentals
With the keyboard in hand I can measure its dimensions to know the minimum size my stand must be, but there are other considerations. I must make room for the power and I/O wiring in the back, the surface of the keys should be about the same height as those on his Steinway (28.5″), and it seems the top of this unit is curved, which would make it inconvenient for sheet music, or anything else, really, so I want to make a flat top for this.
Showing the curvature of the top.
Also, I wanted a wood species that could be dark, but not too dark, like walnut. The species should have interesting grain for certain parts, but also have nice straight grain, for parts like the legs, where stability is most important. For this, I chose cherry. I could source nice straight black cherry lumber, as well as the interesting swirly, dark-line grain of gummy cherry, both having the same basic color that deepens over time.
Designing The Legs
I like the look of a Queen Anne cabriole leg, I mean, who doesn’t? It’s graceful and delicate, but it’s not appropriate for rock n roll, dammit! I wanted a modern, edgier look, but still retain some of the grace of a cabriole, so I set to designing one. I wanted the leg to be a post where I could mortise the sides and front, and I thought it would be cool to add a complexity to compensate, somewhat, for the for the simplification of the more modern profile. Instead of wasting hours creating a full size leg I might not like, I decided to make a scale model, about 12″ tall.
Being satisfied with the design and with the build technique, I made a full size version out of my straight grained cherry. I’ll need four of these, but the ones in the back will have a higher post and will not have the two cabriole profiles. So there will be two post blanks for the front, and two for the back, but ultimately they will each be unique due to the mortises for the frame of the body.
I had some nice live edge gummy cherry boards that I wanted to incorporate into the design. Using that for the sides seemed like a nice touch. Since the top edge had to follow the basic profile of the keyboard, the live edge had to be at the bottom.
The side is mortised into each leg with the live edge at the bottom. Note the difference in the grain between the legs and the side piece.
The Front, Back, and Bottom
The keyboard supports itself on four rubber feet, one near each corner, so there is no need for a solid bottom, just the board at either end of the stand. The center stretcher board is there to be sure the front panel stays straight, and to add some rigidity. The back is as open as I can make it. It will be masked by the keyboard, and having it open means there is no interference with connectors and wires.
The front panel is wider at the ends and in the middle to accommodate the mortises that join the bottom boards. It is carved out thinner either side for some leg room.
Some detail in the support boards of the bottom, beautiful detail no one will ever see! Also, note the interesting grain of the gummy cherry on the front panel.
The Final Part, The Top
This is the showcase for the live edge gummy cherry. It will fit between the side panels, and will be removable to make it easy to install the keyboard or to remove it for use elsewhere or for service.
This is the raw board, planed at the sawmill. Obviously, there is more planing to do! I will de-bark the entire front edge and cut it to length. Fasteners are angle iron on either end with notches to fit over screws in the side panels.
The Stand, Completely Built And Finished
It took a lot of clamps to get this one done!
Pictures from my shop of the finished keyboard stand:
See the bug traces in that live edge front? It’s gnarly. Because sometimes rock n roll has to be gnarly.
About Those Three Circles
That was my surprise addition to the project. It was an homage to the band Jason had back around 1990, Two Pound Planet. It was a good band, many thought a great band. Beatlesesque power pop, is how they were described.
They certainly didn’t look like the Beatles. But there are the three circles … and the two small circles also.
An interesting write up on the band:
You can listen and decide for yourself:
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