Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A special project with my favorite wood...

Last year, my buddy Steve took a trip back to Ohio, and asked if I needed anything from my old favorite lumberyard - Yoder Lumber. They have one of the largest selections of domestic lumber I've ever seen, with boards stacked to the top of their 30 foot ceilings.

Their kilns were constantly drying wood, and the hum
activity is ever present.

Steve brought back some Sassafras for me - it's truly one of the woods I've missed the most from back east. Sassafras trees are an important food for wildlife, and it in commonly used in a variety of our daily products - from root beer flavoring to medicinal products.

If you've never worked with it, I highly recommend tracking down some. The most striking thing about it is its fragrance.

The smell of sarsaparilla floats through the air when you're working with this wood, what a nice change from the acrid smell of Oak, or the sharp smell of Walnut.

I've had another bed design rolling around in my head, and finally sketched it the other day using the simple design program - MacDraft. I've used MacDraft for so long, I can come up with a scaled drawing in just minutes. I think that's the key to finding a design program - find one that you like and stick with it. The more you use it, the easier it will be to use.

Some students of mine recently build some tables, and used tapered legs with their design. When I use tapers, I usually put the thinnest part of the taper on the floor, but for their tables, they reversed it, putting the beefiest part of the leg on the floor, and tapering up to thinner on top. The effect was stunning, and I've been thinking about using that in something ever since.

I usually make the side rails for a bed last, but in this case, I didn't have a lot of wood, so I pulled out the boards that I thought would best work as rails and decided to start there. These were about six inches wide, which is perfect for what I had in mind.

Here they are, planed and ready for trimming to size.

I really like this beefy bed hardware from Rockler. I try to keep a couple of sets of them in stock, you just never know when someone is going to need a set.

Once the rails were machined to size, I started the hardware installation on the ends of the board. I recently did this on another bed, so it was fresh in my mind, and went very quickly. Well, actually, I installed the hardware a different way, using an edge guide and my plunge router - and accomplished it in about half the time.

Pull out the routers,

plunge the bit flush to the base (not with the router on!)

and then use a piece of the hardware to set your depth. The bit will now extend that exact thickness past the baseplate,

thus cutting your mortise the precise depth of the hardware.

Here are the boards, clamped together

and the first mortise is cut.

You'll have to square up the corners of the mortise with a chisel, it's easy in Sassafras.

Screwed in place with some long, beefy screws.

And here they are finished and oiled. I still have to go back and apply a ledger strip that will hold the mattress decking, but I wanted to get some oil on these first.

Stay tuned for part two - I'll be making the posts for the head and footboard, and then tapering them. The shop is going to smell heavenly when I get done with all that milling.

It makes me crave a root bear float right now, just thinking about it!

1 comment:

John said...

Very nice, I'm going to use your technique for setting the depth for your bed hardware mortises.