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Toe Stud Bolsters (Wood-working)

Building organ consoles for use with Hauptwerk, adding MIDI to existing consoles, obtaining parts, ...

Re: Toe Stud Bolsters (Wood-working)

Postby scottherbert » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:44 pm

I'll be honest here, my experience with bending wood is minimal, but unsatisfactory. What was done became undone with changes in humidity and time. While a boatbuilder or cabinetmaker may have a way to circumvent this, I would still recommend cutting from solid stock. But that's just my opinion. :wink:

The only successful method of bending wood that I have personally seen is the method used for building laminated bows (for shooting arrows). Where the wood strips are laminated with fiberglass layers and glue, bound tightly together, placed in a shaping form that lays in a hot box where the temperature is raised to a temp sufficient to "bake" set the materials to memory set the shape.

Last edited by scottherbert on Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Toe Stud Bolsters (Wood-working)

Postby 1961TC4ME » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:20 am

engrssc wrote:
1961TC4ME wrote:Would it be worth the work to set yourself up for what would likely end up being a one time project in order to bend a couple pieces of wood as it may be just as easy to find someone to do it for you?

and miss the frustration :wink: (and joy) of a DIY project that every time you look at it gives that special feeling of pride. 8)


Ha! Yes, along with the projects we look at with pride, there's always that project (or two) that was tossed to the corner of the shop and is still sitting there collecting dust just as the friendly reminder, and I say to myself every time I see it "what a disaster, I shouldn't have tried that!" :wink:

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Re: Toe Stud Bolsters (Wood-working)

Postby ArnoldOrgans » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:34 pm

As everyone has noticed there are multiple ways to accomplish a curved toe stud bolster and most are complicated or expensive. In house we bend wood by using 3 to 4 layers of 1/4" strips. To get the strips we run solid stock through the table saw on each side. This only works for up to 5" wide strips. If we need wider we do the same process and cut the material in the middle with a band saw. Then of course you have to run the strips thought the planer, create a jig for the press and glue/press the strips together. As this is quite complicated. We only do this for is the top curved pedal board pieces. If you try this method remember the curve will flatten out some when removed from the jig. For complicated bolsters we use solid wood blocks in the CNC mill. Of course this is quite expensive.

For the DIY project I would recommend the band saw method. Unless you are really good with a band saw this will require a lot of sanding to get things smooth. If you don't have access to a band saw check into bending stock plywood. Its important to remember bending stock only curves in one direction. You could create an outer frame from flat material with single curves and use the bending stock over the frame. If you choose this method I would plan to veneer over the entire surface as it would be nearly impossible to create this shape without lots of filler. If bending stock is not available you can make it cutting close slots most of the way through plywood. This also comes with many problems.

All said my personal recommendation would be to have a professional make the bolsters or to compromise for a simpler design. Its quite easy to make a 2 lever bolster out of standard stock with a single curve on the bottom and top. There is a reason you don't see complicated bolsters on affordable organs.
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Re: Toe Stud Bolsters (Wood-working)

Postby flydeltajets » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:43 pm

All, thanks again for the various tips.

For anybody that is interested, here is a dimensioned model of the bolsters that I created in sketchup (without the centers removed for the swell pedals).

I've found a few other woodworking sites where folks cut compound curves by printing full-size templates and tracing the patterns. I'll give that a try on some foam or cheap stock to see how it turns out, but the geometry for these is definitely tricky, and I may end up going third-party after all.

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