Fraternal Twin, Twin Beds, Seperated at Birth

beds-008-smallIn my last post, I said that I’d hoped to post the following day with finished headboards and footboard assemblies.  Needless to say, that didn’t happen.  Snowstorm, childcare and a persistent severe cold slowed progress.  Since I have a commission waiting, one that has a deadline, I decided that the pair of twin, twin beds were far enough along that one could sit on standby (the recipient is still only 21 months old) to finish the other, and move on to the next project.  So the cherry bed will remain, un-assembled, on the shelf until around Christmas, though once I get back to it, I should be able to finish it in short order, having learned a thing or two on the Ash bed.

The short version of progress:  The complementary curves were cut into the headboard and footboards.  The dovetailed mortises were chiseled to the correct angles, and the long, shallow mortises for the haunches were routed with stopped cuts at the router table using a spiral bit.  Prior to gluing up  the head and foot boards, the half-dovetailed tenons were formed on the rails:  After marking the tenon limits with a cutting gauge, The rough cuts were made at the bandsaw for the cheeks, handsawing the shoulders, and  then cleaning up, fine-tuning and fitting using chisels and a shoulder plane.

When everything could be readily dry-fit, it was time to make some holes for the drawboring.  If you’re not familiar with drawboring, you should check out Peter Follansbee’s posts on it, or Chris Schwarz’ video.  Once the holes were drilled, and the offset holes marked and drilled on the tenons, I set out to make some pins.  Since the accents on the ash bed are walnut, I sliced some 3/8″ x 3/8″ straight grained walnut to make pins.

The walnut was pretty wet, having been a log outside just a week or two ago. I decided to try to bake them dry:  3 hours at 200 deg F on convection bake and the weight dropped substantially (no it’s not scientific, but it’ll do for these pins).  I started a more scientific test on some bigger hunks of walnut, where I’d measure the moisture with my wagner every 15 minutes.  But after 4 hours with no measurable change, I ended the experiment.  It’s not that it wasn’t drying, but the wood was WET, and the moisture meter’s upper limit is 32%.  Except for a couple spots, which dropped to 31.9% it hadn’t changed, so I ended the test, or more specifically, I postponed it.  If anyone has done this successfully, I’d love to hear about it. (how hot? how long?). Yes it’s my toaster, and FYI, warm walnut smells delicious:

Toasted Walnut

Toasted Walnut

I started to shape the pins by hand, then decided that since the grain was pretty dead straight, I could probably turn the squares down to 3/8″ exactly for a clean fit without having to work 20 pins individually.  Then it was time for glue:

Since the panels are reasonably large, glue was only applied on the bottom tenons, and the tops were left to float.  With everything lined up, I set about to hammer home the pins which I rubbed with parrafin to help them in.  All went very smoothly in the footboard, where the hole offset was about 1/32″.  In the headboard, I offset them a bit more, about 1/16″.  I’m not sure if it was the different offset, the fact that the oven dried wood got brittle, the orientation of the pin grain, or combinations thereof, but three of the six pins splintered (more like shattered) after passing through the tenon.  Thankfully, I had the foresight to make extra pins, and after a bit of extraction work, I replaced the shattered pins making sure that the grain ran perpendicular to the leg.  In the end, I was able to get nearly perfect fit, front and back for all of the pins, and I really like the look of the walnut pins in the ash.

beds-002-smallThe last steps:  make a bunch of slats by ripping and cutting to length some 1×6 poplar.  Not going to bother with smoothing the mill marks on these, just breaking all the edges.  slat supports – I milled a 5 1/2″ x 5/4 board down to just over 1 1/8″ thick and routed some 3/32″ deep slots 2 1/2″ wide, spaced about 3/4″ apart to hold the slats in place.  Then I ripped the board in two, then glued and screwed it under the rails, leaving a ~3/8″ projection to the outside, both as a decorative element, and a nice place to rest your heel to tie your shoes in the morning.  Here is the near-final assembly, minus the wedges (I can’t get the whole thing in the shot, my shop is too narrow to back up any farther!):


The wedges were cut to general shape, and I found that unless I get a perfect fit, or at least one where the far side (outside) of the wedge contacts the mating face first, hammering the wedge drives the leg away from the rail. I think it’s a design flaw, and why most wedged tenons, especially the dovetailed ones, are wedged from the outside, rather than inside, as I did here for aesthetic effect. Chalk that up to things I learned in this project.
Next up, finishing. I’m leaning towards pre-catalyzed waterborne lacquer (Resisthane Plus), without anything else underneath for the durability and ease of spray application, but I’m open to (eager for) suggestions. If all goes well you’ll see the final product this week, and a sneak peek at the next project.

A final note:  Due to some bizarre requirement on facebook, a ‘page’ can’t have a ‘username’ unless 25 people become fans, and doing anything without said ‘username’ is darned near impossible.  If you can spare a moment to check out, and LIKE my facebook page, it would be a big help.  Thanks!

About Nick

Nick Roulleau is founder, craftsman, designer, joiner, finisher, floor-sweep and all of the other roles at Mansfield Fine Furniture. A woodworker for more than a decade, Nick started the company with the goal of filling the need for heirloom-quality furniture hand-made from premium woods. Every piece is designed to suit the customer's needs and desires, hand-picking each piece of wood, and built one piece at a time, using both modern and centuries-old traditional methods to yield furniture to last for generations.