Dais for St.John's Church

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Project by Mitch Peacock posted 02-29-2016 02:48 PM 941 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Due to visibility and acoustics, the vicar, who prefers to preach from the floor rather than the pulpit, wanted to extend the raised chancel into the naive by about four feet (it really does make a difference!). It also had to be movable by a single person, and fit a small storage space.

As a furniture maker, freestanding is what I’m used to, but capable of supporting a crowd is another matter. However, I like to take on new challenges, and soon had my design and quotation submitted. Had I fully realised the implications of such a large build, it’s fair to say my quote would have been a little higher!

In due course I got the commission, and began turning my design into a detailed sketchup model. This is when I began to realise just what was ahead of me.

The dais is a segment of a circle, with a radius of almost three metres. Since it was to be made in three sections, for maneuverability, that had to line up perfectly, I needed to clear almost the whole of my double garage to layout and cut the large curves, whilst also storing all the materials out of the freezing, wet, winter weather.

Ever tried finding a commercial jig to cut such large curves? Needless to say I had to make my own. The router is the ideal choice, and after knocking together a sub-base and long beam, I was soon cutting the profiles of the three sub-floors.

The nosing was created by joining nine mitred lengths of meranti together with biscuits. This was cut to it’s curved profile with two more settings on the circle cutting jig, before bull-nosing with a third setting. A plywood ‘riser’ was to be wrapped around the dais, and therefore a groove to take that was routed on the underside of the nosing, with a fourth jig setting. Due to the different thicknesses of the finish flooring and the nosing, a rebate was then run around the sub-floors (fifth jig setting).

The circle cutting jig is now safely stored away, having truly earnt it’s keep ;)

Bases were copy cut from the sub-floors. First by rough jigsawing, and then using a copy/flush/pattern cutting bit in the router. Then it was time to fill the sandwich.

Joists with bracing were laid out to fit, with curved framing being band sawn. Once installed between sub-floors and bases, the curves were planed true, ready for facing with the risers.

One benefit of such a large curve, is that the 6mm sapele faced ply risers could easily be bent to fit without making kerf cuts, and they were duly glued and pined in place.

The finish floor was bought in as 10mm engineered oak parquet tongue and groove blocks – so much easier and cheaper for a factory to produce these precision items, than for me to. The next problem was how to lay them out, herringbone style, such that the three sections would look seamless once together. Clearly those that bridged the joint would need to be cut, removing a kerf width from their length. Also, laying should be from the centre line outwards, an so the joint cuts would have to be left a little long, and flush cut after curing. I’m not sure whether I figured this all out correctly, or had a little luck, but thankfully it all came together perfectly.

Now wait a minute you say, don’t you need that circle cutting jig again, to trim the finish floor next to the nosing? Ideally yes, but by this stage my pivot point was no longer in place, and I didn’t want to risk setting up a new one – something to consider next time! I ended up laying the nosing on top of the floor, scribing the curve, and then freehand routing and finally shoulder planing the edge of the floor to fit.

Then with the nosing fitted for the final time, and screw holes plugged, it was complete.

Finishing: The unseen sides received a matt black finish, whilst the risers and nosing were stained and lacquered. Brass ‘knocking’ edges were set into the joining riser edges for protection, and 6mm feet spaced regularly below the joists, to give the appearance of floating. The finish floor came ready finished with a hard wearing lacquer.

Thanks for taking a look.

The build is covered on my YouTube channel, for those who would like to see more:
Dais for St.John's

-- Design, Build, Inspire.

4 comments so far

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2711 days

#1 posted 02-29-2016 05:49 PM

Very nicely done!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Bill_Steele's profile


524 posts in 2151 days

#2 posted 03-09-2016 07:16 PM

Really nice work Mitch! I think you did a fantastic job.

I’ve never built something for someone who was paying. I think I would be really nervous about how well it fit and whether they liked it. I’ll bet your client liked it.

View Mitch Peacock's profile

Mitch Peacock

65 posts in 2153 days

#3 posted 07-18-2016 04:30 PM


Very nicely done!

- HillbillyShooter

-- Design, Build, Inspire.

View Mitch Peacock's profile

Mitch Peacock

65 posts in 2153 days

#4 posted 07-18-2016 04:39 PM

Thank you!

It is a strange feeling – I think because woodworkers can always find fault with their own work, I expect the client to do so too. Of course they very rarely do – not being woodworkers themselves :-)

Really nice work Mitch! I think you did a fantastic job.

I ve never built something for someone who was paying. I think I would be really nervous about how well it fit and whether they liked it. I ll bet your client liked it.

- Bill_Steele

-- Design, Build, Inspire.

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