Aproject plan for a bedthat brings charmandelegance toa traditional design
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From Getting Started in Woodworking, Season 2
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11/2 in. a French curve. At the bottom are two
10 in. Side 16 in. 13 ⁄stretchers --Asa Christiana, editor, Fine Woodworking Side stretchers
long curves formed with a flexible wood batten, one extending end to end on the 27 ⁄8 in. lower stretcher, and the other a short graceful arch at the bottom of the sides, 10 in. 13 ⁄16 in. ending at a straight step at each end to 27 8 in. suggest ⁄legs.
13 ⁄4 in. 3/4 in. x 3 in. x 26 1/2 1 ⁄ in. Oak
3 in. 4
35 ⁄16 in.
1 back ers Long stretch stretchers screws FOr Long 30 sheLVes
Oak veneer 5 ⁄8 in. 1/4 in. x 27 1/2 in. x 45 3/4 in. 5 in.plywood 33 ⁄8 33
3 ⁄4 in. 3 ⁄4 in.1 #12 x 2 in. flat head screws 1 Steel
screws FOr back
#6 x 3/4 in. flat head screws
93 ⁄16 in. 93 ⁄16 in.
Go to Finewoodworking.com/start to watch a multi-part video detailing how to build this bookcase from start to finish.
13 ⁄16 in. 17 in.in. 13 ⁄16
95 ⁄8 in.
9 in. 95 ⁄8 in.
17 in. 31/2 in.
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Build a Pencil-Post Bed
Photos: Thomas McKenna. moisten the wood surfaces with water just before you run the stock through the machine. Therefore. If you can’t find that at your
local lumberyard. I hand-carved lamb’s tongues at the ends of all the chamfers. The design is classic yet highly adaptable. Tiger maple can be difficult to plane without tearout. the seams would distract from the facets and chamfers in the posts. Begin by cutting the posts to rough length.-tall posts. and used highly figured tiger maple. drawings: Vince Babak
. at the top. and even the finish. use a wide. this version features posts with simple octagonal feet and the classic tapered octagon on top.-thick plywood. added a tester frame on top. The water will soften the fibers. joint two adjacent faces square. Next. I never glue up bedposts to add thickness. but almost all of the parts are large. many of which have turned feet on the posts. you can live with small defects as long as they are located in areas that will be cut away for the tapers. finished with rich amber shellac. from traditional to contemporary. the headboard shape.
Octagonal posts require no turning
The posts taper to a delicate 1 in. The stock doesn’t have to be perfectly clear. When the layout is complete. If you still get tearout with those precautions. use a bandsaw to cut carefully to the layout line. so be sure that the knives in your jointer and planer are razor sharp (when milling figured woods. and then run the stock through the planer to bring it to its finished 21⁄ 2-in. making them less brittle. it’s available through specialty lumber dealers (there are sources on the Web and in the back pages of Fine Woodworking). Take very light passes with a slow feed rate. I put new knives in my machines). Unlike other early American beds. For a smooth cut in the figured stock. and a rich finish bring charm and elegance to this traditional design
B Y L O N N I E B I R D
he pencil-post bed remains popular several centuries after it was introduced—and for good reason. the post form. To add to the traditional period look. By varying the wood. The bed described here is one of the more popular variations on this timeless design. you’ll need 12/4 stock for the 80-in. subtle details. thickness.
Tips for milling figured wood
There are relatively few parts to mill up for a bed project. this bed will fit comfortably in a wide variety of settings. Begin by drawing the outline of the taper on one side of each post using a fullsize pattern made from 1⁄4-in. In a figured wood like tiger maple. Although sometimes I’ll edge-glue boards to create a wide headboard. sharp blade (1⁄ 2 in.
HALF PATTERN OF HEADBOARD
171 ⁄2 in. attached with #10 screws 12 in.
1 in. 15 in. thick by 31 ⁄2 in. p.
in. spaced 1 ⁄ 2 in. 21 ⁄2 in. tall (see detail) Long rails. 40) Short rails. 491 ⁄2 in. long. 21 ⁄4 in. thick by 3 1 ⁄2 in. long.
in. 2613 ⁄16 in. long.
TRAD I T I O N A L D E S I G N THAT T R AV E L S
Like most beds. wide by 60 3⁄4 in. 31 ⁄2 in. thick by 15 in. long. 3⁄4 in. Bird’s pencilpost bed is made to be knocked down so that it can be moved. Glueline located near the bottom will be hidden by bedding. 3⁄4 in. 2 in.c. The headboard floats in mortises in the posts.F i neWoodwor k i n g. 21 ⁄4 in.TOP OF POST
64 1 ⁄2 in. wide by 61 in. long
7 16 7 16
TESTER-FRAME CORNER JOINERY
84 1 ⁄2 in.
1 in. apart Bed bolt and cover (see detail. Tester frame Headboard. 161 ⁄2 in. 311⁄4 in.
BOTTOM OF POST
Poplar slats. shoulder to shoulder
OGEE PROFILE ON RAILS
21 ⁄2 in. ⁄ -in.
www. 9 in.
113 ⁄ 8 in. 1 in. by 1 in. shoulder to shoulder
in. dowel. wide by 621 ⁄2 in. thick by 3 1 ⁄2 in. by 80 in. 80 in.
⁄ in. and the rails are attached to the posts with bed-bolt hardware. 14 in. ⁄ in.com
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. The tester frame on top also comes apart easily.
Angle iron. long
14 7 16
1 in. wide by 81 in.
the jig will gradually lower
the post to create a tapered chamfer that corresponds with the taper in the post. facing page). stop cutting when the marks align. (If you want to get fancy. gradually raising the bit. Lay out and cut the tapers for two opposing sides (above). However. fat end of the chamfer) is about 1 in. Smooth away any sawmarks with a bench plane. you can use a jointer for this. tapered posts
Cut four-sided tapers on the top of each post. To handle the tricky grain. wide. position the jig and post at the stopping point of the cut. you’re there when you are cutting on the line of one face of the octagon on the top of the post and the stopping point (at the lower. so take your time. you also could place a stop on the bottom of the jig. I grind the iron to 43° to create a steep 55° cutting angle. When the setup is right. and transfer the stop line on the post to the router-table fence. Tapered chamfers? No problem—The next step is to chamfer the corners of the posts on a router table to create an octagon. Start by marking the octagons on the top and bottom of each post. Hold onto the offcuts. remove the bandsaw marks with a smoothing plane. Now lay out the tapers on the faces you have just cut and repeat the process until all four sides have been tapered and smoothed. On subsequent cuts. Next. and repeat for the three remaining posts. Setting up the cut is tricky because the bit is hidden from view. 4 teeth per inch). Bottom of post is a straight octagon—you don’t need a jig to chamfer the bottom of the posts. cut the chamfers in the tapered section with the help of a jig (see drawing.
wide.) Rotate the post until all four sides have been chamfered.Shape the octagonal. Hold a post in the jig and take a series of light passes. but be sure that you have very sharp blades and that you take light passes. you’ll use them later when cutting the mortises for the headboard. As you push the stock across the router table. then repeat for the two remaining sides. you do have to hold the bottom of each post firmly against the router table and fence
. For uniformity among posts. Then draw lines around the post to indicate the stopping points of the chamfers.
Fence registers end of leg. Post
Fence.-thick plywood Plane outer edge of wedge flush to the base. thick by 6 in. wide by 84 in. Lay out the octagon on the bottom of one post.
Cut the tapered wedge on the bandsaw and attach it to the base with glue and brads. (right).RO U T E R -TA B L E J I G C R E AT E S TA P E R E D C H AMFERS
To ensure that the tapered octagonal sections of the posts are uniform. Mark a stopping point for the cut on the table’s fence and on the post.
VIEW AT BOTTOM OF TAPER
Leg Wedge has ended. too. above).-thick and 3⁄4-in. tapered on four sides Cut inside edge of fence at the post’s taper angle. In use. Again.
Wedge. thick. Lay out the octagon on the top of a post. built up from 1 ⁄4-in. while the wedge gradually lowers the bottom taper onto the chamfering bit. 1 in. To taper the chamfers as well.F i neWoodwor k i n g. long
VIEW AT TOP OF POST
Octagon laid out on top of post Wedge Base Fence
DETAIL OF POST IN JIG
Taper rides against router-table fence. long by 7⁄ 16 in. www. the square part of the post is tilted away slightly from both the router-table fence and the base of the jig. The top of the post starts out tapered on four sides. then raise the bit until it is cutting on the line.com
The bottom of the post is octagonal.
M Ay / j U N e 2 0 0 6
. the jig’s fence keeps one of the tapered sides flush against the router-table fence. thick. mark the stopping point. supports tapered section of post.
Top of post.
How to cut a tapered octagon. build this simple jig for the router table. Bevel the bottoms of the posts with one setup and no jig. 491 ⁄2 in. then place the post in the tapering/chamfering jig (see drawing. Mark router-table fence where chamfer stops. 1⁄4 in. Gradually raise the 45° chamfering bit until it is cutting on the layout line marked on the top of the post and the fat end of the cut measures about 1 in.
Cut mortises in the posts for the rails and headboard
A four-poster bed must be made to knock down. Next. Carefully refine the shape of the tongue using a 1 ⁄4-in. Use a 1-in.
Lay out the lamb’s tongues on each corner.
Scoop out the waste. which helps eliminate tearout while planing the curly maple. chisel across the grain (4). raise the bit until you are cutting on one face of the octagon laid out on the bottom of the post. mortise-and-tenon joints are cut so that they can hold firmly with a friction fit. Again. Use a full-size template to trace the profile (1). This grind creates a steep 55° cutting angle.
. In most furniture construction. this page and opposite). The headboard slips into mortises in the posts. at the end of each chamfer (see photos. To smooth away mill marks. I use a standard-angle block plane with its iron ground to 35°. you’ll want a slightly loose fit so that you can assemble and disassemble the bed without too much wrestling. The first step is to lay out and cut the mortises for the headboard and rails. Mark the stopping point of the cut on both the post and router-table fence so that you will stop chamfering at the same point each time. often called an ogee. Transfer the tip of the tongue around all four sides (2). and the bed rails are connected to the posts with traditional bed-bolt hardware. then pare to the line.
to keep it from lifting and spoiling the cut. chisel to remove most of the material (3). Use the baseline as a reference to lay out the rest of the tongues with the template. carve the lamb’s tongue. But for a bed. or you’ll never get it into the bedroom.Carve the lamb’s tongues
LAMB’S TONGUE PROFILE (OGEE PROFILE)
Use this pattern to create the full-size template for the profile.
shank of the bed bolt.-dia.-dia. Take time to get the offcuts adjusted just right. When laying out the mortises in the posts for the bed bolts.
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. chisel into the base of the tongue to add definition to the detail (5). Next. Cutting the rail mortises is straightforward. Use the bolt to mark out its length on the inside face of the rail. Again. I use a hollow-chisel mortiser to chop the mortises. Make the hole deep enough that the head of the bolt sits just below the surface. Next. simply measure 3⁄ 8 in. pare to the layout lines with a
chisel. from that first mark to indicate the top of the mortise. mill up the rail stock and cut the tenons on the rail ends to fit the mortises.-dia. on both sides of the centerline. make sure that you slide the tapered offcuts under the post and between the post and the mortiser fence to hold the post level and square to the bit. and use a long straightedge to transfer that line up into the tapered section. the trick is to make sure that the mortises align perfectly from the straight to the tapered sections of the post. Pound the tip of the 1-in. it’s time to install the bed-bolt hardware.When laying out the joinery for the rails and headboard. from the bottom of the post. you could end up with a mortise that’s not cut at 90°. Now mark out the locations of the top and bottom of the headboard mortise. Clean up and smooth the surfaces with a 6-in. Now clamp the rail-and-post assembly firmly to a
Define the base. Bed bolts create a rock-solid post-and-rail framework while allowing you to disassemble the bed when necessary. hole through the post (centered in the counterbore) to accommodate the 3⁄8-in. otherwise. use a combination square to scribe a line from the center of the post mortise all the way to the line indicating the bolt length. Mark another line 31⁄ 2 in.
Install the bed bolts
With the mortises cut. Assemble the rail and post on your bench. find the center of the post. But when you cut the headboard mortises. Next. access hole at that point. Be sure to make the headboard mortises about 1⁄16 in. To find the width of both the headboard and rail mortises. remember to offset the holes for adjacent rails so that the bolts don’t interfere with each other. longer than the headboard width to allow for seasonal expansion. Disassemble the rail and post and use a drill press to drill a 1-in. First. For accuracy. staying clear of the layout lines. be sure to drill on the inside face of the rail. After the machine work. double-cut file (6). counterbore in the post for each bolt head. drill a 7⁄16-in. Mark a line for the bottom of the rail mortise 171⁄ 2 in. Next. use a drill press to make a shallow 1-in.-dia.
Use the bolt to mark where the 1-in.-dia. by 1 3 ⁄4 in.ballandball-us. 3⁄8 in.
Headboard mortises are cut in the tapered section. dia. You can buy bed bolts and covers from Ball and Ball Hardware Reproductions (www. through-hole
Mortise centered in post
Offset the bolt holes for adjacent rails so that the bolts don’t interfere with each other. using the centerline as a reference. though the mortises could be cut with a router or with chisels. long
Cut the mortises for the rails first. dia. 1 in. clamp the assembly to a bench.
Drill holes for the bolts. by 3⁄4 in.-dia. Use the tapered offcuts (from the bandsaw) to level the post and to keep it perpendicular to the fence of the mortiser. deep
⁄ -in. A hollow-chisel mortiser makes the job go smoothly. bit and keep the drill level. The square section is easiest to handle.
13⁄16 in.Cut mortises and drill for bed bolts
JOINERY DETAIL S
Bed bolts create a solid post-to-rail connection yet allow for easy disassembly of the bed. then transfer the centerline of the through-hole across the post and onto the rail.-dia. After drilling the access hole in the rail.
Access hole for bolt nut. dia. access hole for the nut should be (above). Mortise for bolt. Slide the rail into the post mortise. 800-257-3711). and drill the throughhole for the shank of the bolt (right). 1 in. deep
3 1 ⁄2 in. Use a long 7⁄16-in. 13⁄16 in. by 6 in.
disassemble the bed to add final details such as the decorative ogee profile in the top of each rail.FineWoodworking. for a precise fit it’s a good idea to assemble the bedposts and rails and then measure from the bottom of one mortise to the corresponding mortise in the other post.
A tester frame adds to the period look. 35) spaced about 1⁄ 2 in. amber color to the piece. A full-size (36 in.-dia. and then adding a glaze to accentuate the details. p. Follow this procedure for each bed bolt. Tenn. the framework supported heavy drapery to shield against the winter cold. use the finish I described in “An Antique Finish for Tiger Maple” (FWW #180.-thick stock that’s 15 in. p.
Check the fit. The framework is half-lapped at each corner and held in position at the top of each post with a small wood dowel. You can tile the plan on a home printer. Slide the bolt through the post and into the rail. you have a few options depending on the size of the bed (for more information. Although plans call for a 621⁄ 2-in. you just might dream that you’re living in the 18th century. 39). To make the figure of the maple pop and to give the bed an antique appearance without waiting 100 years.
Assemble the headboard and shape the tops of the rails
The headboard for this bed is designed to slide into the mortises in the posts. and build the mattress support.
M Ay / j U N e 2 0 0 6
. then place the nut on the end and tighten it down. The process involves using dye to bring out the figure. pp.
Lonnie Bird. contributing editor. teaches woodworking at his school near Knoxville. you can install the bolt. After all the holes have been drilled. With all the components fabricated and fitted. sealing the wood with a 1-lb. Subtract 1⁄16 in. Lightly handplane the ends of the headboard until they slip easily into the mortises in the posts. And as you drift to sleep in the finished bed. cut of amber shellac. it’s time to sand and apply a finish. After milling the plank to size. there are no shoulders or tenons. The hole in the post will guide the bit accurately. bit.-thick plywood. or take it to a copy shop for a full-size printout.bench and drill the through-hole for the bolt shank using a long (electrician’s) 7⁄16-in. The bed should need only a light sanding with P240-grit paper. angle iron and wooden slats (see drawing. for clearance.
Add the hardware and tester frame. then apply the finish
When it comes to supporting a mattress in the bed frame.
Visit our Web site for a video tour of Bird’s fourposter bed. you can glue up pieces to get the width you need. per se. In southern climates. In colonial times.com/ 4poster. on center and attached it to the rails with #10 screws. brushing on tung oil to add luster. see FWW #175. I ordered the angle iron predrilled 12 in. Once all the parts have been fitted. If you don’t have a bed-bolt wrench. These four easy steps will impart a rich. wide. the frame was covered with netting to keep out insects. Cut the headboard pattern on the bandsaw and smooth the sawmarks with a spokeshave. I used 1-in.) downloadable plan is available at www. Locate the glueline toward the bottom so that it will be hidden when the bedding is in place.-long headboard. apart. 74-77). If you don’t have 3⁄4-in. by 48 in. you can use a scratch awl or screwdriver to stabilize the nut. trace the profile at the top of the headboard using a half template made from 1⁄4-in.