February 7, 2015

Walnut Queen Bed - Part 2

January has been much colder than December but I still managed to make some progress on the bed. After fitting the joints for the footboard the next step was to layout the mortises in the headboard corner posts. At this point it was helpful to pull up the Sketchup model right at the workbench and mark out the joints.

I then chopped the mortises and the grooves between them for the headboard and head rail using the same process as on the footboard.

At this point I took a bit of a detour. I am planning to drawbore the mortise and tenon joints and that will require some walnut pegs. All of this was a good excuse to make a dowel plate so I picked up a length of steel long enough to make a few of them and headed over to Mark's heated shop to drill the holes.

The idea is to split of a piece of straight grained stock and then pound it through the progressively smaller holes until you end up with a dowel of the proper size. Since the dowel plate strips off the excess wood along the grain the resulting dowels are straight grained and thus much stronger than store bought dowel stock. I still need to determine what size dowels I will use and then find some nice straight stock to start with but at this point I shifted back to finishing the joinery for the headboard.

Before I could layout the tenons on the headboard I had to figure out the most attractive grain orientation. I wiped on some mineral spirits to highlight the grain and then spent the next hour or so flipping it around to see which side and orientation looked best. I then clamped a thin strip of wood in place to approximate the curve that will be cut across the top in order to check how the curve fit with the grain pattern. I finally settled on the orientation below.

The next step was to rough out the tenons with the dado stack.

Since the headboard and lower head rail are the same thickness I was able to run them both on the same setup.

Following the same process as the footboard I marked out the tenons and cut out the waste with the sash saw and coping saw.

After some chiseling and planing to tweak the fit the joints came together nicely and I was able to dry fit the headboard assembly.

It was now time to layout the curves that will define this design. I started by marking a point in the center of the headboard and 3" down from the top edge. Next then taped a piece of string between the two top corners so that it passed directly over that point. Then I marked out the curve in pencil following the string. 

I roughed in the curve in the footboard at the bandsaw.

To layout the complimentary curve on the headboard I marked along the cutoff from the footboard.

I cleaned up the convex curve on the headboard with a few strokes with the plane.

The concave curve on the footboard cleaned up nicely with the spokeshave.

The top of each corner post is cut at an angle that matches the flow of the intersecting curve. I marked out the angle by eye and then setup the miter saw to make the cuts.

At this point you can get a pretty good idea of what the bed will look like. So far so good.

 Next up is planning out the details of the drawbore pegs, trying out a few finishing options on some scrap, and putting together the rails and mounting hardware.