We just moved into a new house. I'm thinking of taking up WW and
building a new bed myself:
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?
tmyap firstname.lastname@example.org (Adrian) wrote:
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.
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
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?
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!
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
Anywho, that my 10cent worth
RIch AKA searcher1
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
wrote in message
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.
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'.
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. :-)
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
Think thrice, measure twice and cut once.
Sanding is like paying taxes ... everyone has to do it, but it is
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.
On 30 Apr 2004 20:55:50 -0700, tmyap email@example.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
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).
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).
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
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.
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
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!).
tmyap firstname.lastname@example.org (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
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
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.
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
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). :)
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < email@example.com>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
Congratulations on the new house.
A nice looking mahogany bed. One I think will look beautiful with an oil
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
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
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.
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