In my last blog I lamented a bit that I pretty much had my fill of cutting the dovetails to make the 5 new boxes. Add some problems with the Spalted Maple grain structure, turning a clamp the wrong way and cracking an end, fighting the humidity while applying shellac, and I was primed for something different. Well, this project is about 180 degrees from cutting dovetails by hand!
If you believe the advertisements for mattresses we should all be replacing ours after 7 years of so. They like to play up the fact that we sweat and deposit all kinds of “things” into our bedding. Add about 8-10 years to the life of our mattress so we thought maybe it was time to replace ours! New mattresses no longer use a box spring, instead there is a solid wooden or steel plate in what we used to call a box spring that completely supports the entire mattress. Similar to the style of bed I made for my daughter when she was two and my grandson sleeps in now. The first idea was to include drawers underneath the bed but you know, we really don’t need that. Here in the desert you don’t have lots of large, bulky winter quilts or parkas that take up a lot of room. Adding 4 large drawers would have increased the budget too much so we opted to make a simple platform as shown in the drawing at the top of this post. That’s a rendering of the side and front view. The overhang will add the illusion of floating and function as a toe kick so you don’t stub your toes while making the bed.
Diane will design and make 100% cotton quilt for it since we both like natural materials and both like to do projects together. As you can see from the drawing it’ll be of frame and flat panel construction. If you know my work and philosophy about finishing woods you’ll be shocked to know that this will be painted black! Our nightstands (purchased) are black with a Cherry veneered top. The headboard is one that I made years ago to match them. It has Walnut panels laid out in a grid (two rows of three) made of Poplar that has been painted black to match the nightstands.
Everything in our bedroom will have a cohesive look. The mattress is one of those new ones that is almost 12″ thick. The platform will be made of Poplar with flat panels I’ll make from the Alder plywood left over from the computer monitor project. This will give me another opportunity to improve my skills with the HLVP spray rig purchased when we did the kitchen makeover. If you’re interested in seeing that project here’s a LINK to the blog posts I wrote for that. That was white paint so the bed, with black paint will be pretty much the opposite!
Whereas the dovetailed boxes were pretty much all hand work, this project will be predominately machine work. I’m using 5/4 Poplar; here is the pile of wood cut this afternoon. At the far left are the pieces that will make the rim around the plywood base, then comes 8 pieces for the top and bottom of the side and center sections. Also, the top and bottoms for the front. The predominant measurement for the length of the bed is 80″ so 7′ lengths of wood would have been ideal. I was hopping for 14′ but as luck had it, all available material was 10 footers. That meant I had some odd shaped pieces left over that you can see at the upper left on the assembly table. After cutting the material to uniform width, they needed to be dado’d out for the plywood panels. The dado is 1/4″ wide by 5/8″ deep; the tongues on the vertical pieces will be full width to match that. That should give more than enough strength for this bed. The plan is to make two sections with stretchers attached to support the plywood base for the mattress. The bed will be assembled by using 1/4″, flathead machine screws and threaded inserts.
Here’s a method of centering your dado in the boards. After putting the blade on the tablesaw I adjusted the fence to about 3/8″ from the blade. Feed your board into it part way, then flip it over and cut part way again. The blades should line up. It took about 3, trial and error adjustments but here you can see that they are pretty well centered. Although I usually don’t like to mark up my wood with pencil, each piece is marked on the inside to help line up the tongue and groove joinery. Those marks will be on the inside of the bed so nobody except a dust mite or two will ever see them! Pencil marks are difficult to sand off of wood, much easier to use an eraser first — seems strange doesn’t it?
The plan for tomorrow is to cut all of the vertical members to the exact size, set up the dado, and cut all of the tongues. Usually I cut tenons with a tenoning jig but with 22 pieces that need tongues on both sides the dado head followed by the rabbet block plane should make quick work of fitting all of these joints.