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Basic qin table by Yu Shuishan
And stool 1
Select an image to enlarge it 2            

Dr. Shuishan Yu,3 a qin teacher as well as a professor in the School of Architecture at Northeastern University, designed a qin table and stool that can be made easily and cheaply with soft pine and screws available at such stores as Home Depot or Lowe's. Their assembly is shown in the images at right. When I played on them the tables seemed quite sturdy and resonated well with my silk string qins.

According to this design the tables are 40"L x 12"D x 25"H. The stools are 17" high, close to the standard height for dining room table chairs, often making it unnecessary actually to make the stools. Thus the table is 25" high because the ideal difference between the height of the stool and the height of the table is about 8".4

For the table at right the wood pieces are:

  • Table top: one piece 1" x 12" x 40" (variable?5)

  • Table sides: two pieces each 1" x 12" x 24" (Prof. Yu says this gives better sound than having four legs)

  • Table side braces: two pieces each 2" x 4" x 10" (or less)

  • Table back brace: one piece 1" x 4" x 40" (or same as table top)

For the stool the wood pieces are:

  • Stool top: one piece 1" x 12" x 16"

  • Stool legs: four pieces each 2" x 4" x 16"

  • Stool side braces: two pieces each 2" x 4" x 10" (or less)

  • Stool back brace: none

Screws are 2 1/2" coarse thread drywall; as shown above, the boards are of three types:

1" x 12" (the table and stool at right required a 100" board cut into four pieces: 40+24+24+12)
1" x   4" (one piece 40" long for the table; none for the stool)
2" x   4" (the table and stool at right required a 104" board cut into eight pieces: four 10" and four 16".
Note that the actual widths and heights of the boards will likely be somewhat less than their stated board sizes (e.g., the actual measurements of a standard "2x4" are closer to 1 1/2" by 3 1/2" and the width of a 12" board is usually closer to 11 1/2"). Only the lengths can be precise: you buy them in whatever lengths are available and have them cut to the precise lengths you want.

For assembly you simply screw the parts together according to the images shown. This can most easily be done using a Phillips screw bit on an electric drill, or perhaps even a non-power hand drill. If done by hand you may wish to start the hole using a hammer and nail. In any case, especially for the table top, make sure the screw heads go below the wooden surface at least 1 millimeter. This will prevent the instrument on top from being scratched by the metal. This can be easily achieved since the boards are soft pine wood.

The finished product might also be protected by application of a stain such as Minwax Wood Finish (water or oil based).



1. Qin table and stool
The stool height is approximately the same as that of a standard dining room chair, so making a stool may not actually be necessary.

2. 于水山 Shuishan Yu (bio; recordings on CD Baby)
Professor Yu studied guqin in Seattle with the Meian player 吳自英 Wu Ziying (website). He subsequently learned and has recorded numerous further melodies, exploring different aspects of the Meian as well as other styles.

3. Images of a table and stool made by Yu Shuishan
The angle of the photo exaggerates the amount by which the end of the qin actually reaches over the end of the table.

4. Optimum height
My own qin tables tend to be about 27" to 28" high. Thus my chairs/stools should be about 20"-21" high; if the difference between table and chair height is more than about 8" I must adjust the chair height, usually with cushions.

5. Variations on the length and width
A length of 40" will usually bring the end of the table by the player's left just beyond the sound hole under that end of the qin; this helps with resonance. A shorter table may be easier to transport, but if the left end is shorter than the position of the sound hole then the sound may be diminished. Most of my own tables are somewhat longer (usually about 48") and wider (to fit two instruments facing each other).

A wider table, in addition to allowing two instruments on top facing each other (for teaching), leaves enough space for such things as sheet music or an incense burner. However, it is difficult to find boards that are wider than 12" and they also tend to be much more expensive. (It might be less expensive to make two tables such as the ones here and put them next to each other than to make one table twice the width.)

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