Back to the Bench . . .

Literally and figuratively. I’ve been away for quite a while for a lot of reasons, but I’m back at the bench now. And as it turns out I’m working on the Harpsichord bench. I’ve done most of the important parts, cut the rails, mortised and tenoned everything, turned the legs and and dry assembled. I recently acquired a mortising machine and this was my first real chance to use it. I mis-measured and cut the mortises too long, but that was easy to fix! The center picture shows the legs all prepped to the point they could be turned. Then I had to cut the dado along the rails and make sure everything would fit correctly to accept the bottom.

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the turned legs, but I think they came out pretty nice. Then I cut the bottom which is simple 1/4″ plywood. And now the basic Bench is assembled and glued up. Here is where it stands at this point . . .

Harpsichord Bench assembled and glued up

Harpsichord Bench assembled and glued up

Notice that I pegged all of the mortise and tenon joints for extra strength and durability. I believe that quality construction has many things you cannot see, and pegged joints in furniture that will eventually be painted should not be seen. And seeing that this is a bench that should last for a really long time and will have to withstand someone sitting on it for many years, pegs certainly help.

The next step will be to attach the feet (see inside the bench) and add a number of decorative elements along the rails and corners, then complete and attach the top. I hope to get this completed sometime in early June.


About npcarey

Amateur Luthier, woodworker, music enthusiast, software enthusiast
This entry was posted in Harpsichord and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Back to the Bench . . .

  1. Love the nice, clean lines and the tight joinery. Are you following a particular style for things like the foot detail? Or is there a traditional form for harpsichord benches? Or just going with what you like?

    Don’t know how “tight” the harpsichord community is, but I met a really good harpsichord maker in the St. Louis area about 10 years ago, named Peter Tkach. He was getting rid of some of his tools he didn’t use anymore as he wound his business down. I was able to pick up a couple of good Swiss Made chisels and some veneer from him. I try very hard to remember where I get all of my tools from; I find it comforting to think about the source when I’m using them.

    Unfortunately, I noted an estate sale at his location two years ago where they were selling all contents of the house, so I think he’s since moved on to a better place. I still have his business card, though, because I thought it was a great idea. It is a small piece of QS fir (scraps from his builds, I’m sure) that is 1/8″ thick, 1 1/4″ wide, and 4″ long, cut in the shape of a harpsichord. Sanded smooth, it easily took the ink stamp of his name and address.

  2. npcarey says:

    Thanks for the kind words. To make the joints as tight as possible, and to keep them that way, I’m a fan of pegging them. This bench has walnut dowels used for pegs. The style is based on the plans I have from building my harpsichord following Ernest Miller’s “The Harpsichord Project eBook” ( I actually am not sure about why the style is what it is, but I like it. I’m not sure that it is based on anything too specific or historically accurate. Many of the stands and benches from the period of this instrument (1st half 17th Century) have not survived.

    The bench is actually complete now, and I will add some pictures very soon. It has no finish yet, but at least you’ll be able to see it with the seat and feet installed.

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