Part 2 - The Bed is Finished #1: Some early pictures

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Blog entry by davidroberts posted 03-30-2010 05:59 AM 1641 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Part 2 - The Bed is Finished series Part 2: Pics of the Completed Project »

The title is a little misleading. The bed is actually refinished. This was a project 2 years in the making. A neighbor grew tired of her grandmothers bed set sitting on her back porch and offered it to me two summers ago. Her idea was I would refinish it for my then 13 year old daughter. It was made sometime before 1936 and is a nice old piece, well made and in need of some TLC. I jumped at the chance to hone my finishing/refinishing skills, since I don’t have any to speak of. What was I thinking?

The bed was in good shape structurally with no loose joints. It is made of 1/8” walnut veneer on poplar boards with I believe cherry legs. Each leg is turned in one piece. The ornamental appliques at the top and center are 1/8” birdseye maple veneer on walnut backing. After some testing, I concluded the bed was probably dyed then finished with a few topcoats of shellac. Here are a few before shots of the headboard, the easiest piece to work on.




I had to work more on the footboard. The back of the footboard was walnut and it was delaminating. I tried to save it but there was too much dirt, twigs, acorn shells, etc. in the crease, so I removed it using several methods that I never want to think about again. I cut a new back from 1/8” walnut I bought at the local hardwood supplier, Houston Hardwoods, good guys. I glued the new back on as best I could and used a piece of 1/8” masonite over it to minimize tearout from the router. I let the bearing of the straight bit ride on the top curve of the footboard, puckered real good, and gently followed the curve. Here are some shots of that process.

Shows delaminated back,

Old walnut back removed to expose poplar core,

Used my new cross cut sled (The Beast) to cut the 19 inch tall walnut plywood back to length,

Test fitting the back and notching for the turning at the top of the leg. I cut the back as close as I dare to the curves using a jig saw, then finished up with a router.

Routing complete showing the masonite,

Masonite folded back to expose the new walnut backing,

Footboard standing up showing the new unfinished walnut backing. Also notice the blue Irwin clamp on the foot of the leg,

The clamp was holding a cracked foot that I super glued. There were a few cracks in the balls that I glued and squeezed together. They came out better than they started with but not completely closed. I didn’t want to make new cracks. No pic of the fixed crack.


I had to fix a few places where I didn’t get good glue squeezeout. A flock of spring clamps are perfect for this touchup glueup.


Here’s a pic of the bottom part of the footboard showing delamination. There was no debris in the crease since it is pointing down. I just cleaned it up and glued the laminations down. There are some minor chips and dings I didn’t try to cut out and replace. They add character, haha.

Well it got later than I thought it would and I got long winded. I’ll make this a two parter and in the final installation will show the finished product and the discuss the refinishing steps. Thanks for looking.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

3 comments so far

View Joe , Humble, TX's profile

Joe , Humble, TX

9 posts in 3008 days

#1 posted 03-30-2010 07:16 AM

Looking forward to seeing the end result. Great progress.

View jack1's profile


2107 posts in 4052 days

#2 posted 03-31-2010 12:01 AM

lots of work!

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3511 days

#3 posted 03-31-2010 01:33 AM

Jack, I just about committed suicide two or three times. After I got smart about stripping, (and took a half day off from work) I finished in a couple of days, just in time for my baby girl’s 15th birthday. Did I mention exactly on her birthday, at 11:00pm. I cut the slats at 10:00. That was a close one, haha.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

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