Graham Nash Music Stand #1: Claro Walnut Slab with a Story

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Blog entry by Blake posted 08-05-2011 07:11 AM 4106 reads 6 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Graham Nash Music Stand series Part 2: Taking Shape »

One of my relatives has a connection with musician Graham Nash. And although I have never actually met Nash, somehow I ended up with a beautiful slab of Claro Walnut from his old hot tub.

Well, my dad is a guitarist and fan of all things Rock n’ Roll. And I have been planning to build him a music stand for several years now. So I figured since this piece of memorabilia fell into my lap, it was the perfect time to build him one.

Here is the slab in the back of my truck:

Its just under 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 8/4 thick. It has a natural edge on one side and sliding dovetails cut into both ends.

Another view in front of the toolbox for scale (also notice the figure bottom right)

After a lot of head scratching and planning I came up with a general direction for the design and laid out some cut lines:

The first cut was a little too awkward for the table saw so I did it outside with a circular saw and a straight-edge:

I hand-planed down the high corners to take most of the rocking out of it before power planing:

Out of the planer:

Another view… wow!

Ripping it into various parts for the stand:

I am still designing as I go with very basic and rough sketches (not usually to scale or proportionally correct). Many aspects of the final design are undecided.

The main parts of the base are milled and it starts to take shape:

For the upper (adjustable) part of the stand I ripped three pieces. I will turn the middle one upside-down and glue them back together. This laminated piece will be stronger and more stable than using one solid piece.

Laminating the three strips:


This is the bookmatched “podium.” I took the most figured section of the slab and sliced it in half on the bandsaw to reveal this stunning matched pair. I decided to incorporate the natural edges in this part of the music stand. I haven’t resolved how the overall shape of the podium will look yet. Should it have a frame? Or just a nice round-over edge on top and the ledge on the bottom? I’m not sure yet. I don’t know if I am totally satisfied with the shape of the podium with the natural edge as-is. I will think on it but I’m open to suggestions at this point.

I am beveling the edge of the podium so when the two bookmatched halves are joined they will come together at a slight angle:

Here you can see that angle I was talking about:

That’s all for today. About 5 hours of work so far.

-- Happy woodworking!

19 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3757 days

#1 posted 08-05-2011 08:37 AM

blake i have to say this is just an amazing piece of walnut and you are doing some mighty fine design work with it, its going to be grand and its going to be a gift for your father that will be exceptional…heirloom all the way…i wish i could be there to see the look on your dads face and i would really love to see this piece in person…have a wonderful time making this…things like this only come around once in a lifetime…enjoy…and your doing a grand job….

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Ken90712's profile


17701 posts in 3643 days

#2 posted 08-05-2011 11:30 AM

Great work, love the progress. Look fwd to seeing this through.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View SSMDad's profile


395 posts in 3051 days

#3 posted 08-05-2011 01:17 PM

Fantastic write-up! Can’t wait to see how it’s going to look.

BTW: I’ve been trying to understand and read but what, exactly, IS claro walnut? haha I’ve seen it for sale and it’s always much more expensive than just regular walnut. (not trying to hijack the topic, sorry)

-- Chris ~~Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 3222 days

#4 posted 08-05-2011 02:14 PM

The natural edge decision is a tough one. I like them in most cases. A good example is Ken”s TV cabinet, that looks great. You will have to use your own judgment on what your dad would like. Either of my brothers would love the podium just as it is now. My parents, in-laws and several of their friends that I know wouldn’t care for it. I think they would think that I didn’t care enough to finish it. May have something to do with growing up during the depression.

It’s always tough designing something a little different or unique for someone you care about. I made a non-traditional design decision when building a walnut book case for my mother many years ago. while planing the lumber I found a beautiful board with a large tight knot with swirling grain that was completely symmetrical. I went to a lot of trouble, while making the top of the 4 ft book case, to use that that board and have that knot centered like a medallion. It thought it was beautiful, most people who saw it before it was delivered commented on how beautiful the top was.

I didn’t find out for 20 years that she hated that knot. She said it broke her heart when she first saw it, she was so disappointed. I didn’t know. I finally noticed that she always kept a bowl of plastic fruit covering that knot and I asked her. I was pretty disappointed that all those years had passed and I never knew she didn’t like that knot.

If I were making this for my Dad, I’d use a spoke shave to smooth that edge while following the natural contour of the grain and edge. I wish you luck with your decision.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 3530 days

#5 posted 08-05-2011 02:15 PM

Blake, I always love seeing that little email I get from Lumber Jocks saying “Blake Posted A Blog”..... Always a treat to see what you have cooking in the shop. This one is definitely not a let down.

Looks like you are really enjoying yourself and getting things in the proper swing. I also am enjoying the fact you are letting it design it’s self (well kind of) as it progresses. I find I do that often and worry if I am just weird or wreck less for doing it that way. Sure made me feel better about some of my shop practices…lol

Look forward to seeing more Blake, and enjoyed the read….

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Bertha's profile


13567 posts in 3147 days

#6 posted 08-05-2011 02:17 PM

What a gorgeous piece of lumber. I love to see those handplanes taking bites of it. Wonderful project!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Roger's profile


21008 posts in 3258 days

#7 posted 08-05-2011 02:21 PM

that is one awesome chunk o chunk o wood! very nice tut. look forward to seeing the finished project

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View shipwright's profile


8346 posts in 3252 days

#8 posted 08-05-2011 04:34 PM

That must have been some interesting looking hot tub.
It’s nice to see that the wood will live on in a new form.
It’s a very nice piece and fortunately, it has fallen into talented hands.

Good to see something from you Blake, I’ll be watching this.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3950 days

#9 posted 08-05-2011 05:16 PM

OMG Blake, that Claro is beautiful !!! I am so glad that it fell into your hands and is being used to create another design masterpiece by you. This is going to be very special I am sure and I will be watching with baited breath !

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View whitedog's profile


652 posts in 3911 days

#10 posted 08-05-2011 06:01 PM

It’s looking good , can’t wait to see it finished.

-- Paul , Calfornia

View lew's profile


12823 posts in 4209 days

#11 posted 08-05-2011 07:28 PM

What a beautiful piece of wood and a story to match!!

I marvel at how far you have come. I remember when you were agonizing over your Mom’s sewing cabinet.


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Karson's profile


35194 posts in 4854 days

#12 posted 08-05-2011 07:29 PM

Blake A great design and some wonderful looking wood.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Brit's profile


7753 posts in 3297 days

#13 posted 08-05-2011 10:21 PM

Great blog Blake. I can’t wait for the next installment. I’m very jealous of that wood, it is simply gorgeous.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3740 days

#14 posted 08-05-2011 11:48 PM

Awesome story Blake. Great choice building the music stand—how fitting.

I look forward to the rest.
Thanks for sharing.


View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3628 days

#15 posted 08-06-2011 12:12 AM

WOW !!!

I’ve wondered where you’ve been.

Does … does … does that have the “chatoyancy” thing going on ??? It’s shimmering, and/or I’ve been drinking.

What a great provenance for a piece of wood, and what a cool gift for your dad. I’d say … bulls-eye !

Teach … your children well, indeed :-)

-- -- Neil

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