Is this too difficult for a newbie?

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Hi All,
We just moved into a new house. I'm thinking of taking up WW and building a new bed myself: http://popularmechanics.com/home_improvement/furniture/2002/11/mahogany_bed /
We've seen many beds in furniture stores etc and this is the only one that we both like. It looks really beautiful in the photo. But I'm afraid that this might be too difficult for a newbie.
I have absolutely no experience in WW(ok stop laughing please). But I'm technically inclined and I have lots of patience. I'll buy a table saw and a router, and work in the garage or our walk-in attic. Should I do it?
Thanks, Adrian
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In rec.woodworking tmyap snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Adrian) wrote:

Nice bed.

Wow! It is possible that you could do it but plan on making some mistakes. I really hate to discourage you but that is quite a first project. There are alot of mortise and tenons in that bed. Other than that, I don't see much trouble. I would suggest you include a mortising machine and a LOT of clamps in your purchases. Measure twice and cut once. Good luck.
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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.com (Bruce) wrote:

Thanks for your advice. LOL I didn't know there's a machine to make mortises. I feel like an idiot.
If you don't mind, I have a few more newbie questions:
1. I guess I better buy more lumber and experiment on cheap wood first to allow for mistakes right?
2. Assuming the plan has no mistake, if the lumber are cut to the exact dimension in the plan, are they all going to fit together perfectly? Or should I cut the tenons a little smaller than the mortises?
3. How to tell if a mortise/tenon has a good fit? If the fit is too tight, is it going to split/crack in the future?
3. How about wood movement or other problems?
Thanks, Adrian
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Do yourself a favor and build a bird house or two, then move up to a simple pice of furniture, a book shelve perhaps. When you feel comfortable with those, then move up to the bed headboard. Get aquainted to your tools and abilities first! Greg
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Excellent steps there Greg, Looks as thats about the way I started, With the bird houses then on to shelves, funny how things progress. Getting used to your tools is the most important part! Many things can be accomplished with few tools once you can learn to finess them a bit! And by the way I would think about hauling a TS into an attic! I had a hard enough time getting mine into the basement! If you get a good saw they are heavy!!! And if you think that you may really get into WW then don't go buying a Cheapy TS spend the money on a decent one, Cast iron top good mitre slots and a good fence are all key. Just ask me I have learned all that here, AH yes I have made a mistake or two, but the people here have seen me through. I bought a Sears special TS for 89 bucks, made a few bird houses and though hey this is easy. Then I went to shelves and found that my TS couldn't make a straight cut 60% of the time. I took that saw back and spent 400. now I can CUT!!!!
Anywho, that my 10cent worth
RIch AKA searcher1

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Yes, make a simple bookcase, step stool, saw horses first just to get some practice. You ca count on makins some mistakes starting out.

No. Some parts should not be cut until you fit the first ones together and then you adjust.

No. Adjust after if they are too tight. Sanding or a plane can make the tennon fit better, but it is more difficult to fill in for a loose one.

Friction shold ot them together, no force needed to insert them.

Could be, but I can't see the plans. Proper design will build in allowances.
You may want to get a good book on the basics or take a course at the local Adult Ed. Ed
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I'll second Ed's suggestion on taking a class. I just completed a class at my local Woodcraft. I learned so much and I am a newbie. There is so much to learn. Do yourself a favor and you will thank yourself. The class will get you up and running very quickly and most importantly will teach you about shop saftey.
Rich
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Adrian wrote:

Adrian...
If you're willing to learn, to make mistakes, and to stay with the project until it's done - then don't pass up the opportunity to have something you both want.
It will probably be difficult at times. Expect that; and don't let it get in your way. Involve your partner (another pair of hands and another sense of humor is sometimes more helpful than a whole warehouse full of tools). Work carefully and stay safe.
--
Morris Dovey
DeSoto, Iowa USA
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Or, you may want to consider starting with just a headboard, for the time being. The joints are less structural, the materials commitment smaller, and you get a high percentage of the return that you would get by building the whole bed. I've done several in the last year, and the 'clients' (family members) are happy with them.
Beds take a LOT of shop room, especially if you are building king or queen sized. On the other hand, I've gotten to know my neighbors much better, as they stop by and talk while I'm doing dry fitting, joinery, assembly and finishing on rollabout tables and sawhorses in my driveway.
Some of them are pretty helpful, too.
Enjoy the discovery process, but I'd start by looking for 'small wins'.
Patriarch
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Thank you all for your advices. So, the general consensus is I should definitely do it since it's a great hobby. But it's better to start small, and take a class first. I think that's exactly what I'll do. I like Patriarch's idea, make the headboard first, or make a smaller bed like others suggested.
I think this is going to be fun. :-) Adrian
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On 30 Apr 2004 20:55:50 -0700, tmyap snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Adrian) wrote:

yes.
whooeee, guys, we got another one!
<G>
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To add to the other responses:
Make a scaled down version....got a young female relative that is into dolls that could use a new addition from you?
This will allow you to *discover* any gotcha's that might have lead to a fustrating and/or expensive experience with the real McCoy.
Or if scaling is a problem, make a twin mattress version first.
--
Think thrice, measure twice and cut once.

Sanding is like paying taxes ... everyone has to do it, but it is
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Agree with starting small and becoming familiar with tools and processes slowly. Consider a potato bin in the early project list. Place to see mortice & tenon joints and the benefits derived using them, strength and squareness. Protect your hearing when you get into universal motors, earmuffs for both of you.
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On 30 Apr 2004 20:55:50 -0700, tmyap snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Adrian) wrote:

Great idea. Beds are easy enough, and commercial ones are nasty. You need one, and they're expensive to buy.

No one in this ng. ever laughs at people with no experience. Lots of us have very little experience (I haven't even been working wood for ten years yet), but we manage to get by.

Beds are easy enough, but they're big (hard to work with), the timber costs will be appreciable (don't waste it) and they need to be structurally adequate (a problem for design rather than manufacture).
On the good side, the finishing for a bed is much simpler than a jewellery box (fine work) or a table (big and flat, so it shows mistakes). The joinery is also simpler than a chair, because you have more space and materials to build the strength with.
As others have said, build some small stuff first. Maybe make something that uses similar materials, techniques or finishes, so you learn something directly useful.
By the looks of that style, you're going to need to work large components with accurately square joinery and a good flat surface. As always, investment in a good table saw is money better spent than on almost any other tool. First job is to make a good crosscut sled for it.
This doesn't strike me as an especially router-dependent piece, but they're a useful tool to have. You might also look at biscuit jointers, which will simplify the joinery.
A morticing machine is an essential if you make something with lots of spindles. But any mortices here will be few and large, so a decent (corded) electric drill, an auger and a few chisels will get them cut without too much effort.
Timber is crucial. It'll cost far more than you expect !
Timber costs vary according to species, quality, location, but most of all the place where you buy it. Find the right timberyard to deal with and don't just go to a convenient big shed.
I wouldn't use mahogany (or most tropicals). There are three sorts of mahogany; beatiful 18th century stuff that's just unavailable today, endangered species from disappearing sources that we all should avoid using, or bland featureless brown junk.
For this style, the only wood I'd use would be white oak, with the classic ammonia finish (easier than it sounds).
Basic bookshelf:
Tage Frid's tutorial on general cabinetry and furniture making Flexner on finishing Ian Kirby's "The Accurate Table Saw" on how to work the machinery. Lee Valley catalogue, especially their hardware catalogue. For the size of a bed, you need something to make it dismantle for shipping.
Basic tools (apart from the obvious).
Workbench. Table saw. Sharpening equipment A set (don't need more than 3) of _good_ chisels, and the practice to keep them sharp. Loads of clamps. Good small block plane, like the Lee Valley low angle. Rebate planes; an old Stanley #78 and a #92 (maybe buy new if you have the money) Lee Valley #112 scraper plane and an old Stanley #80 scraper to finish it,
You're not likely to save money on this project, compared to buying from Ikea or building ugly. But you will buy a workshop instead and build yourself a nicer bed.
That's also IMHO, an ugly bed. Like so many Popular Mechanics plans, it's a rather clumsy version of a design from elsewhere. I think some further research may turn up the original.
Researching plans is time well spent. You're going to put money into this thing, and you're going to live with it afterwards, so get the easy stuff right before you start.
I suggest looking through designs for "Mission", "Craftsman" and "Stickley" styles. Lots of similar designs, but nicer.
I wouldn't screw slats down on a bed. You'll never keep them fully tight, and they'll start to squeak. Either machine the screw holes oversize and leave the screws loose, or lay the slats loosely (fasten the two end slats) and staple them to a couple of long tapes underneath to hold them apart.
--
Smert' spamionam

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Adrian: Go for it. You'll probably need a jointer, and a planer will be a real help. Then you'll need clamps--lots of clamps 8-) The piece appears to be pretty straightforward, with no tricky joints. I can't tell from the picture, but those panels in the head- and footboards appear to be carved, so duplicating them will require some chisles. There is nothing listed here that is not a basic tool, so you won't be wasting your money. Just remember that you'll need to factor the cost of the equipment into your overall cost, but then the next project becomes a lot less expensive.
Bob
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One of my first projects was a bed, although it did not include any mortising. Most of the "work" was sanding and finishing the piece. I'm still using the same bed, after 30 years so I must have done it right. You can build the mahogany bed, but expect the process to take a long time. For a first project, a work bench makes more sense (and you can use the bench to help make the mahogany bed!).
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tmyap snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Adrian) wrote in message

The hobby is extremely satisfying, and normally you will be the greatest critic of your work instead of your spouse.
That bed is ambitious, it is beautifull. Your router would make the mortises and the tennons, there are books at your library that will assit you in making the necessary jigs.
Your biggest hole now is in stock preperation, you will need jointer (square) straight stock for the bed. Those long rails and the headboard/footboard cross pieces will be hard to find good wood for. Tough to get a piece 8' long without any bend too it at many lumber yards.
With that in mind, check out a class at your local community college or high schools for a night adult education course. You will have access to tools you do not have now, as well as an instructor to assist you.
Even though I have most of the tools it would take for this and I have made a couple of small items, I am still taking a beginners woodworking class with 45 hours of class time for $60.00. We are making up a cutting board and a shelf in that time, and I've already discovered my bad table saw habits, how to properly use the jointer and that I want a good planer not a big planer (too much snipe on those big professional planers).
I would second the advice to start small, and figure a good 6 months to make it.
Alan
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Adrian wrote:

How to become a bona fide wood dorker:
Step 1 - Get yourself a project.
Step 2 - Buy/Learn whatever you need in order to accomplish the project.
Step 3 - Come back here and gloat your head off.
Looks like you have the first step nailed. For the second step now basically all you need is time and money.
A first project that's way too complicated to realize well as a beginner is still better IMHO than a project that's boring. If you try to make yourself build blurfls when you don't really care about blurfls, then you'll probably lose interest pretty quickly and end up with a garage full of useless machinery.
So build the bed. Try anyway. You might have to simplify the design somewhat, or omit some steps here and there. You'd probably be wise to build a rough draft out of something rather less expensive than mahogany though.
If you manage to produce something halfway close to the picture in the magazine, you may find your wife encouraging you to spend more on machinery and materials. This is a Good Thing(tm). :)
Good luck!
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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Using constuction lumber without twists and cups to practice the joinery would be beneficial it seems. Followon to "rough draft" which I like.
On Sat, 01 May 2004 11:30:27 -0400, Silvan

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Hi Adrian
Congratulations on the new house.
A nice looking mahogany bed. One I think will look beautiful with an oil finish.
Is it too difficult for a newbie? Yea and no.
You're talking about on the job training with some moderately expensive wood and, while woodworking isn't rocket science it is also not an intuitive thing. There are certain skills that have to be gained and knowledge to acquire.
Having a table saw and router does not equate to the ability to build the bed nor is it, by any means, all the tools you are going to need to successfully build the bed. Hell, just in laying up the veneer they've used well over a hundred, if not two, dollars worth of clamps. Then there are decent blades for the table saw, router bits, dado blades, chisels. edge guide, etc etc.
Now, if you are willing to start at the absolute bottom of the learning curve, understand that you are not only going to be wasting a fair amount of the wood in boo boo's, and we all make boo boo's, experience just means you make less and learn to work with the ones you do make, and, finally, your actual and immediate layout for tools for the job is going to be considerably more then just the cost of a table saw and router, you can do the job.
Note, most of us, while traveling the learning curve, slowly acquire the tools we have. Very few start their woodworking experience with all the tools required to do something like that bed.
However, my considered opinion is that should you attempt this project right out of the box with just the information the article give when you finish the bed, if at all, when you have grandkids that can sleep in it and you will be a very frustrated and unhappy woodworker.
My suggestion, study woodworking, start small, acquire tools when you need them, acquire skills by using them and stretching yourself a bit with each project. If possible find take a woodworking course or find a mentor. Just making the accurate cut lines required in such a job is a skill in itself and requires decent measuring tools.
Good luck.
--
Mike G.
snipped-for-privacy@heirloom-woods.net
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