a long time, I wrestled with what kind of finish to put on the wood.
The pipes rely on the wood finish to keep moisture out of the wood
to minimize splitting, warping, dimension changes and opening up
the glued edges and allowing leaks. From my reading I learned that
organ builders used to "paint" the inside of the pipes
with glue to insure a good seal. (do they still do it that way??)
I had no difficulty deciding what I wanted to use on my pipes:
the cabinetry part of the organ, and especially for the keyboard,
I first thought of using a warmer finish -- perhaps an oil -- something
that would maintain the "intimacy" of touch with the wood.
I test-finished several cherry scraps using various stains, oils,
tung oil, varathane, etc. Somewhat to my surprise, I settled on
using polyurethane -- clear (colorless) for the keyboard, pipes
and windchests; and a pigmented polyurethane for the cherry parts.
In the end, it was perceived durability of the finish that carried
the day: I wanted finish that would last, especially where it would
be handled a lot (the keyboard).
finish was applied of a coat of sanding sealer; both coats were
sprayed with a conventional air-sprayer. Not having access to a
spray booth, I did the work in my back yard -- on a still day. I
did the work over several weekends, and, owing the the fast-drying
properties of the sanding sealer, I could apply the sealer in the
morning, sand it after noon, spray the Varathane and have it be
dry enough to move inside by evening. Some pictures below detail
one exception to this process is the interior of the pipes -- which
were finished using a coat hanger and a bit of sponge -- like a
To apply the
finish, the organ had to be completely disassembled ... even down
to the keyboard. Here, a cardboard rack keeps the Delrin pin-guides
Here I'm putting
the Delrin guides back on the keys. (I'm really not as grumpy as
I look in that picture!! :-)
the keyboard back together after Varathaneing. All the internal
parts received a coat of sealer and Varathane, regardless of whether
they were visible from outside.
organ partly assembled. After seeing the organ "bare"
for so many months, I really like the darker color!