Advice on a Joinery Method


I've been building doll beds for various grandchildren. Each time I build one, the design changes a bit.
Simply it's a dovetailed box 22" x 13" x 3.5", with 1x2 rails on each corner for the bedposts. On the top, I have a headboard and footboard running across from rail to rail. I've been attaching the rails to the outside of the box with dowels and gluing the entire 3.5" along with the dowels. When it's assembled and glued, it's as strong as I need it.
SWMBO makes covers and pillows and ruffles for the frames, and one of the ruffles goes all the way round. Because the rails are mounted outside the box, the ruffles are pulled out from the box by the thickness of the rails, 3/4".
I'd rather have a flush line all the way up. ie. the bottom of the rail is directly under the box, and the top of the rail shoots up from the top of the box.
However, I don't know which way would be best to attach the (now 8 instead of 4) rails to the box. Using dowels to attach endgrain of the rails seems to be a weak solution. I can see them snapping off. But I'm inexperienced and maybe that's the right solution.
That's my question. Would dowelling those rails to the top and bottom of the box be strong enough, or do I need to come up with some other method?
So far the material has been pine, but I'm considering oak for the next one.
Thanks very much in advance.
Tanus
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I would be happy to offer an opinion, but I could not follow your verbal descriptions. How about posting a picture in alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking?
Haveing said that, I don't see how a doll bed could be anywhere near enough stress to break proper dowel joints. If in doubt, insert a few more dowels.
Bob
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BillyBob wrote:

I don't blame you. I reread them and can't follow them either and I made the piece. I can't access abpw, so I've posted to my own site. However, I don't know if the pic is any better than the description. I didn't take any pics of the bare bed. I've altered the pic to outline the box underneath the bedclothes
The rails I'm referring to are the uprights holding both the footboard and headboard. Those rails are attached to (hidden but outlined in black on this pic) box on the outside of the box. Although you can't see it from the photo, the rails "push" out the fabric from the sides of the box.
To alleviate that, I'd like to put the rails, on top and on the bottom of the box to make the feet and uprights. The only way I can think of attaching the rails to the box is to dowel. And that has me suspicious about the strength of the feet, especially since it's a child's toy.
I hope this pic helps. It's not the best, I know but maybe it's better than my prose.
Tanus
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Uh, how about posting the link to your website? I did not see it anywhere.
By the way, I have become a dowel joinery biggot. I bought one of those obscenely expensive dowelmax jigs and love it.
Bob
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A post is not a rail. Rails, as understood here, is a side board that runs from each head board post to the corresponding foot board post.
The dovetailed box may be nice and nice looking, but it sure seems to be overkill, as for stability. And attaching the side rails and posts to one another (if that is the case), and they, in turn, attached to the boxing, is again overkill. Doweling is plenty enough jointery, if done correctly, for the structural integrity of a doll bed, with or without the initial box that you make.
If I may, try this: Eliminate the dovetailed box all together, or improvise with the attaching of your boxing after considering the following. Create tenons on the rail ends to insert into a mortise in the posts. This is plenty enough jointery for your needs, there, and pinning the tenons, with 2 small dowels for each tenon, will be extra security. For the head and foot boards, they can be doweled or mortised and tenoned to the posts. Below each the head and foot boards, add a dadoed or "L" shaped (rabetted) stretcher, again M&T joint, with the lateral aspect of the "L" pointing toward the interior of the bed. The stretchers will add enough strength and more security to the stability of your bed without having to rely on your original boxing. Slats can be placed in the interior of the bed frame, for supporting the bedding material (mattress, blankets, etc) and doll. Thin slats are plenty enough support for the bedding material, doll, etc., and the slats can simply rest in/on the dadoed or rabbetted stretchers below the head and foot boards. For more stability, the slats can simply be glued in place and/or attached in position with a few small brads .... Isn't that right, Norm?
Use a router (or sand, carve, bevel) to knock off the top, sharp edges of your side rails.
Also, for some spice, I've recycled (salvaged) small balusters for doll bed posts. Purchasing turned posts (table legs or newel posts) is an option also. Have you tried making doll rockers? Those babies love them, also, and will love you more, too, for that extra effort. I can email you some pics, if you like.
Hope this helps. Sonny
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Sonny wrote:

Ok, point taken. Thanks

It likely is. It was also my first project using dovetails. I was having fun and they turned out ok. Granted it's more than needed but it also helped me with something I'd wanted to learn for a long time. However, I like your idea below better.

This seems perfect.

No change there. They are motised now.
Below each the head and foot boards, add a dadoed or "L"

Amazing. I love this idea. I"m not entirely sure that I get the stretchers, but I'll play around with it on paper. This is so much simpler than what I'd designed in the first place.

Will do that as well. It's easy and worth the time.

I'd at one time thought of making this bed into a rocking bed or cradle, but got little or no support for the idea so shelved it for a while. A doll rocker in itself seems a bit beyond my present capabilities, but maybe not. And I'd love some pics. pondscumbAThotmailDOTcom.

It's helped immensely. I don't regret the earlier designs but I'm postively thrilled at the new ideas you've given me. Thank you so much.
Tanus
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Hi Tanus,
Glad to be of help. You got pics. If they are not in your regular mail box, then check your spam folder.
Sonny
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BillyBob wrote:

Oh god I'm a dork.
http://users.compzone.ca/george/wood/dollbed4a.jpg
Sorry Bob.
Tanus
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Thanks. I agree with a previous poster - get rid of the dovetailed box. Treat the posts a table legs and the sides of the box as aprons on the table - all upside down of course. Using dowels to put it all together will be very strong and you will get the flush fit that you desire.
Bob
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BillyBob wrote:

Thanks to both of you. I'm actually quite happy that I posted this in the first place.
I got hung up on a design that worked, but as Sonny pointed out, was a bit too much.
I'm really looking forward to a new design that will do just about everything I wanted. And maybe more if I get into rockers.
Thanks again.
Tanus
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Tanus wrote:

first off, them aint rails, thems are posts you're talkin' aboot.
so. if you look at some human sized beds, you'll see that the rails (the horizontal part that the mattress sits on) are generally mortised into the posts, often with fancy take-apart hardware for breaking down the bed into smaller sized chunks for moving it. since you don't need to take it apart you can ignore that part. what you might consider is dovetailing the rails into the posts instead of into each other.
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