Cherry Bed Frame: Stage 1

For years now I had been promising my wife I would build us a proper bed frame, and now finally I had the materials, tools, and time to build it. It’s for a queen-sized bed, and it will be a frame-and-panel headboard with a very basic frame around the rest of the bed–no real foot board. I’ll use construction lumber for an undercarriage that will support the mattress. That will be the easy part.  So here’s what I started with one July afternoon last year:

This is the quarter-sawn cherry I’ve had stashed away at the bottom of my lumber pile. I got it for $2/bf from an acquaintance who owns a portable sawmill (stealth gloat). It took me a while to decide what each board should become. Because this was air dried, and not all that carefully, the boards do have the usual twists and bows, but I can work with that now. The grain does have some nice figure, too. I wouldn’t call it curly, exactly, but it does have some gentle undulations that should catch the light nicely once it’s finished.

So far, the only electrons I’ve burned on this project was to rip down a 2″ thick piece for the headboard posts on the bandsaw. Otherwise, I think this is going to be an exclusively hand-tool project.

This is the first time I’ve really gotten to use my bench dogs and end vise for planing, and I have to say I really like the way this works. Some people complain about the little bow you sometimes get in the middle, but I found I could control that by not cranking down too hard. That, and the pressure of the plane tends to flatten the board back out underneath it anyway.

I also broke down and finally bored some holes in my bench’s apron. But first I had to screw a 2X6 to the back of the apron to make the holes deep enough to hold the holdfasts. That was a pretty quick fix, though, and my 3-year-old daughter enjoyed helping me bore on of the holes with my brace.

So far I have about half the lumber for the headboard frame dimensioned, and I hope to get the rest done tomorrow. The panels will be maple, which I think will give a very nice contrast, though dimensioning them is going to present some significant challenges to me. More later.

Here is one of the cherry boards with a little moisture on it. Not the best picture, but you can see some of the variety in the color and grain:

Many of these pieces have some sap wood along the edges, and my options are 1) cut it off (too much extra work!), 2) try to hide it with stain (not how I like to design things), or 3) place it where it will add to the look of the whole project (my kind of plan). Since I’m using maple for the panels, I’m going to try placing the lighter sap wood on the edges next to the panels, which should make the color transition look more natural and organic, I hope.

Anyhow, here’s where we stand as of the end of the day:

I have all the pieces for the head board dimensioned, and I’m gluing what will become the sides of the end panels to the bed posts. This is so that I can use the plow plane to plane a groove the full length of the piece.

Oh, and you might also notice the wooden plane in the clamp in the background.  There was a little mishap with it as I was finishing up.  It’s  basically my scrub plane–mouth way too wide now for any finer use.   It was sitting on the bench, just minding its own business, when I reached across it to grab my smoother. I pick up the smoother and bring it back toward me, but somehow I don’t quite manage to clear the top of the woodie’s tote. And instead of just knocking it over like it should have, the tote decides it’s had enough stress and breaks in half.  So I had to take a few minutes for an emergency repair.

It was a clean break and seemed to glue together pretty well, but we’ll see if it stands up to heavy use or not.  Fortunately I won’t be needing to use this one again for a few days, so it will have time to sit and cure awhile.

That was about two workshop-days’ worth of work.  More in the next post!

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4 Responses to Cherry Bed Frame: Stage 1

  1. Pingback: Cherry Bed Frame: Stage 2 | The Literary Workshop Blog

  2. Pingback: Cherry Bed Frame: Stage 3, A Lot of Sawing | The Literary Workshop Blog

  3. Pingback: Cherry Bed Frame: Stage 4 | The Literary Workshop Blog

  4. Pingback: Cherry Bed Frame: Stage 5, Tears and My Danish Oil | The Literary Workshop Blog

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