Last Lectern

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Project by Scott Oldre posted 08-14-2016 07:54 PM 2145 views 6 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the final gift for our final Vicar. We will no longer be involved with training of student pastors, so this was a bitter sweet build. I only had a little over a month to design and build this one, as this spring, I had to create a lectern for our Pastor of 16 years who moved on recently. Busy busy, and I have a real job that keeps me out of the garage. That and the 100+ degree temps with some of the nastiest humidity I’ve seen in South Carolina in years. Just miserable to work in the 2 car garage, but I had a self imposed and immmovable deadline. I don’t do these on a commission, or even because someone asks me to make them, its purely being moved by the moment. In all the time I’ve been working with wood, I’ve only sold a single item, and that was because someone I hardly knew (we were new in the neighborhood) was pushing about me making some cutting boards as if I did this for a living. So..I made her pay for being pushy. :)

I know that the minute I’d try making money at what I love to do, I’d start hating it.

So originally the plan was to build something with verticals, 2 tall in the front, and 2 short in the rear. I had drawn out what I thought I wanted to do, but after I’d cut the Walnut pieces and had leaned 3 of them up against a cabinet just to get them out of my way, the angles from the way I leaned them, said “Hey, we don’t need that 4th piece, here’s your new design…go with it.” So I listened to that little voice and what you see is the result. Not even a close resemblance to what I’d originally envisioned and even scribbled out.

The 3 pieces of Walnut are just under 2” thick, and about 5.5” wide on the bottom of the two side pieces and about 4.5 on the center. They are slightly cut at an opposite angle so they all can meet in the center and still swing. They are all held together by a 6” 3/8” bolt with washers that are hidden by the removable side Bocote accent pieces. I turned the bocote slightly larger than the hole at the very bottom of the piece, then cut reliefs around it so that when you pressed it in, they would be held in tight by friction, but easily removed if you need to tighten or even take the piece apart.

The two side pieces are also held together by a half lap, hand cut dovetailed bocote piece to keep the correct angle and keep them in parallel to each other when they swing in or out to adjust the height. Orignally when I first started playing the the design, I didn’t think I’d need the joining piece, but that quickly changed once they all started swinging independently on the bolt. I think it all worked out better anyway, because now with the chain between the long center and the joining section piece, it’s easy to adjust height and keep it steady by letting chain in or out. depending on the height of the person using it. The chain holder is just a fancy brass hinge cut off with a hacksaw and a kerf made to capture the chain for adjustment.

The chain and it’s attachment are covered by a smooth piece of Bocote that I drilled through large enough so that the bent chain link underneath wouldn’t be an issue, but it still hid the actual attachment screw. The bocote piece is a press fit, so if the chain were ever to break, you can pry it out and get at the screw that holds the chain.

The top is Lati, which I’ve always heard is wenge’s cousin. just white instead of black. Not sure about it’s geneology, but the grain is very tight and pretty up close. I had to cut two pieces and spline them together, and because of the extreme grain, you can’t at all see where the top and bottom piece are glued. The top is then surrounded by more bocote which is splined all around into the top. Since it is hot and humid and the Lati started moving a lot, i did a very tiny champher where the verticals and the horizontals of the Bocote frames meet so that there’s not sharp edge when the lati swells.

The pencil / paper rail is a tenoned into a mortice on the Lati top.

The whole thing is 3 coats of the MinSpir/BLO/Poly so we didn’t lose the grain and it’s not too shiney. But very smooth to the touch.

I had it laid down before presenting it to him and told him in front of the congregation that I just didn’t have the time to do another Lectern so quickly after the last one, and everyone commented later that they could see the sadness rise in his face. I told him I’d made a coffee table instead. It was perfect. Then when I lifted the “coffe table” up to show him his lectern, he was floored. That’s what I live for, thats what I work with wood for. To make people emotional about the wood as much as I am.

Sorry so long, but it’s like this every time I have to let one of my children (projects) out of the garage and they go off when their new owner. It’s an emotional time.

Thanks for looking and as always grateful for your comments.


-- Scott, Irmo SC

11 comments so far

View Mark Wilson's profile

Mark Wilson

2971 posts in 2561 days

#1 posted 08-14-2016 08:30 PM

That’s really, really something, Scott.

-- Mark

View BB1's profile (online now)


3323 posts in 2346 days

#2 posted 08-14-2016 08:42 PM

Great project and appreciate the story behind it. Gifts are extra special when you make them and they are one of a kind.

View David's profile


80 posts in 3525 days

#3 posted 08-15-2016 01:58 AM

Scott! That is wonderful. Is this your design? I am looking to build a lectern for myself. Do you have drawings or anything that could help me design mine? Love the staory also

-- "A man that works with his hands, knows his soul" " Have Fun, Go Fast, and Take Chances for Christ's Sake!!"

View Kerux2's profile


718 posts in 3229 days

#4 posted 08-15-2016 03:15 AM

I’m a preacher. At a new church for the last year and their portable lecterns have something to be desired. Been trying to think of a design I liked and build my own.

I really like this one! Alot of room for material for studies. Congrats, this is a winner!

-- Hey I'm Dyslexic! I don't have all day to check and re-check forum post.

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

1128 posts in 4929 days

#5 posted 08-15-2016 12:08 PM

Kerux2, I don’t do plans. Sometimes I’ll draw on a white board in my shop to get a general idea of what I want, but it’s not until I make the cuts that I find out if it’s a win or a lose.

However, I do have a lot of pictures from the beginning to the end, and I can try to put some of them together and share them with you. I also have the 4th piece (long one), but I remember cutting off a little of it at the bottom to get the angle you’ll see in some of the pics I’ve already put up here. I suggest 48” center piece, and put the bolt through at about 40” The angle of the side pieces at the connection with the center piece is the critical one to get the splay you want, but I found that laying everything down on a piece of plywood, I could determine the best angle to cut that. The side pieces were actually a 90 degree bottom to inside, and then the small angle cut where they meet to get that splay. The 5th picture zoomed might give you a better idea of that small angle cut at the join.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View ronstar's profile


754 posts in 5208 days

#6 posted 08-15-2016 07:15 PM

Nice build!

-- Ron, Northern Illinois

View Kerux2's profile


718 posts in 3229 days

#7 posted 08-16-2016 12:45 AM

Thanks Scot,

If I get the chance to start the project I’ll PM you for more photos… thanks!

-- Hey I'm Dyslexic! I don't have all day to check and re-check forum post.

View a1Jim's profile


118334 posts in 5075 days

#8 posted 08-16-2016 12:47 AM

Very cool design,great job


View WistysWoodWorkingWonders's profile


12854 posts in 4654 days

#9 posted 08-16-2016 02:03 AM

Excellent work, love the details with the dovetail joint in the center, highlights some great woodworking skills!

-- New Project = New Tool... it's just the way it is, don't fight it... :)

View JPJ's profile


821 posts in 4117 days

#10 posted 08-17-2016 02:37 AM

Nice job!

View konisastudio's profile


3 posts in 2135 days

#11 posted 08-28-2016 08:55 PM

Really cool shape and great job on the intricate use of wood. Not too often lecterns are made with 3 legs in the bottom.

-- Jeremy Lee, Vancouver BC,

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