Thanks for the helpful advice on scraping vs. sanding my son's ash bed. I
sanded to 220
and the first coat of finish (Tried & True Varnish Oil) is already silky.
I don't want to put oil finish on the poplar slats since they contact the
it be better to shellac them to reduce movement due to humidity changes or leave
Why finish them? Wood movement isn't necessarily a bad thing. You only need
to control it where it wood is joined and movement of the wood can cause
problems with some sort of joinery or attachement. Attach the bed slats
with a screw through the middle of the slat to your ledger strip and any
movement will be an expansion of the wood away from the screw.
Another thought - use plywood slats instead of hardwood. No wood movement
and much stronger across it's length than hardwood.
Disagree with your comment on plywood over solid wood. In wood of same
dimensions, plywood is much stronger than typical wood (especially something
like poplar). You don't have the wood defects, splits, checks, etc than can
weaken solid wood.
Since plywood is laminated veneers of solid wood with the laminations
running at 90 degree angles to each others, it's resistance to breakage for
something like a bed slat is much greater than a typical piece of poplar.
In my experience, such defects are far more common in plywood, than in solid
hardwood. Maybe you need to find a different lumber supplier. :-)
For a weak wood such as poplar, possibly, although I doubt it very much.
And you originally said "hardwood" without specifying species. At least
with respect to stronger hardwoods such as maple, ash, or oak, I'm sorry, but
that's just not right. In a bed slat made of solid wood, *all* of the wood
fibers run the entire length of the slat, whereas in a plywood slat, only
about half of the fibers run the length of the slat, and the other half run
across the slat. The latter contribute almost nothing to the bending
resistance, or load-bearing capacity, of the piece. The solid wood has more
fibers contributing to its load capacity, and hence will bear greater loads.
Plywood's laminations at 90 degrees to each other give plywood greater
dimensional stability than solid wood, and ensure that its physical properties
across length and width are similar, much more so than in solid wood -- but
they do NOT add strength. Rather, they reduce it, in exchange for greater
stability and uniformity.
Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
At last a real conversation about wood and woodworking in here! Sorry but
the trolls in the newsgroup are really starting to bug me. I'm almost
embarassed to open this group up somedays.
I bow to most of your arguements on strengths and stabilities. The whole
thing is really relative to what you're comparing. Oak versus poplar versus
plywoods versus pine? All sorts of differing variables in the equation as to
the strengths and weaknesses of each. One of the weaknesses you get in solid
woods is the fact you pointed out that all the wood fibers run parallel to
each other. This makes it susceptible to shearing forces. Most pieces of
hardwood don't break across the fibers, they split at some point along the
fibers. All depends on how you use the wood.
But as to our poor posters original question (from which I've digressed) - I
wouldn't waste time finishing or worrying about wood movement. Just make
sure you have enough strength in whatever you use to withstand whatever
weight you'll have bouncing on your bed. For what it's worth, I've just used
old A/C plywood scrap for bed slats on my own bed frame.
And Doug, appreciate the intelligent wood discourse. And you're right - I do
need a new lumber supplier - mine just burned down last week!
I gotta just Gotta back Doug on this one,
By the way bed slats should be made out of Maple poplar just wount cut it
It is also a good idea to pick out a board that has a bow to it and use them
convex side up
also I've never seen a bed slat finished yet
Thanks, guys. I was worried about poplar's strength but the lumber dealer said
be fine and it was about half the price of the ash. I agree that it should be
because 1) there are 14 slats, each 3 1/2" wide and 3/4" thick for a full-size
bed; and 2)
the construction of the mattress should always spread pressure over several
slats and 3)
no one in the family is "super-sized" enough to sue a fast-food chain. I'm
going to leave
I put the first coat of varnish on the bed yesterday, it took on a nice honey
night. Of course, last night I was reading Krenov (Fine Art of Cabinetmaking)
he would never put such an ugly "wet yellow" finish on beautiful ash. Well, too
doesn't use run of the mill slab-cut boards either...
Why? I've never seen a bed with as few as 4 slats. Six, minimum, and
that's with a foundation. For a mattress directly on the slats, Bob's
number and spacing sound just about right.
Some people (and much furniture) dictate that a foundation be used in
order to bring the mattress to the proper height. I consider a
foundation to be a complete waste; it takes up perfectly good storage
14 x 3 1/2" + 12 x 1/2" minimum spacing?
And I've seen a lot of beds with no slats at all. They're really not
needed...as long as you have a good box spring and ties on the frame
to keep the frame from spreading.
If he's gonna use 14 slats, he may as well lay down a sheet of
Have a nice week...
Certified breast self-exam subcontractor.
Select your slats for as near to quartersawn as you can get.
Depending on the width of the bed, you may want to use 5/4 in
preference to 3/4 stock. If you have ash left from the bed project,
I'd use that in preference to the poplar. If the piece has a natural
bow in it, turn it up.
When I make beds I seal the slats with shellac. Shellac will not
interact with the dyes in the bed fittings, unlike inadequately cured
lacquer, varnishes, etc. By sanding and sealing the slats you will be
able to adjust them with the box spring in place without abrading the
covering and when you take the bed apart for a good cleaning, you will
be able to wipe down the slats more easily.
Do not use ply for slats. Those who would argue that it is stronger
because it is laminated are ignoring the fact that the laminations
will be at ninety degrees to the proper orientation with regards to
strength. The phenolic resins used in ply lamination are not as shock
resistant as the natural lignin in solid stock.
Some beds need more shock resistance than others.
Thomas J. Watson-Cabinetmaker
Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania
Wouldn't help though. We actually broke the same bed three times. The
rails. Those hook plates with bed pins. Broke the wood out from around
the bed pins on one rail, replaced it with a metal rail, which made the
slats tend to fall out. Fixed the wooden rail, broke the other side, put a
metal rail on *that* side, and the slats wanted to fall out... Then we
broke the other wooden side and wound up with two metal rails on our
"antique" old pre-war bed, which looks really ugly, but after I drilled
some holes and bolted the damn slats in place, they haven't gone anywhere.
Maybe I should un-bolt the slats. Maybe it was the excitement of wondering
if the bed was about to collapse that used to put SWMBO in the mood for
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < email@example.com>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
Silvan, great story. I don't anticipate such problems with this bed. I will
to fasten three of the slats into the ledger boards on the rails to prevent
The rails themselves are 5 1/2" wide by 1 1/4" thick, fastened with that
hardware which is mortised into the ends and attached with three screws per
from local Woodcraft store). I have a little concern that the top of the
mortise is only
1/4" below the top of the rail - if that should ever rip out, I'll substitute
for the rails to allow more wood above the hardware.
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