Arched Bed #7: The Most Critical Cut

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Blog entry by newTim posted 09-28-2009 02:02 AM 4988 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Golden Arches Part 7 of Arched Bed series Part 8: The Outside Arch Frame »

This is one of the many reasons why I love woodworking. It is figuring out how to get accurate results and moving up the learning curve. And speaking of curves, isn’t that the point of this series? Now that the three arches have been fabricated it is time to begin making some exact cuts and building the sub-assemblies. On this project I’m contrsturcting from the inside out starting with the inner frame of the headboard. Once again I’ve found Sketchup to be an invaluable tool. Here’s a shot with all the key dimensions of the headboard.

For those who have seen my two series on the Copper Patina Gates, you know how critical the vertical cut of the arch is to keep the piece square and provide for a tight fit. The photo below shows this joint and the setup I used for the gates. The cut has to be square to tangent of the arch. The arch has to be the same length as the bottom rail. Since the process of matching parts by measurement is so inexact, and the arch needed to match the bottom rail, I figured I could just use the bottom rail to line up the arch.

First I made the final cuts on the bottom rail, 63”x 3 1/2” and planed to the same thickness as the arch. I drew a centerline on the bottom rail and the arch rail using the original template. I used a dry wall square to measure and make a pencil mark 31 1/2” on each side of the arch to help line up the bottom rail. I loaded the bottom rail onto the crosscut sled butting one side up agains the blade and clamping it to the sled. I pulled the sled back from the blade a few inches to provide some clearance and set the arch in front of it making sure to line up the centerlines and checking that the tickmarks on either side matched the ends of the bottom rail.

Then I came back into the house in time to watch Brett Favre crush the hopes of 49’er fans. Wow, what a great pass and catch! So back to the shop. I made sure all the clamps were secure and everything was lined up. I lowered the blade and pushed the sled through a couple times to make sure there were no obstructions and it was working smoothly. I raised the blade and made what I think turned out to be a perfectly parallel cut.

Keeping the bottom rail clamped to the sled all I had to do was turn the arch around, line up the cut edge with the end of the bottom rail, clamp it all up and make the second cut. I’m real happy with the results. The photo doesn’t show the joints to well, but they are tight and parallel to the bottom. Next up I think I’ll cut the mortises in this piece so I can keep it lined up for the next steps. And… next time on the New California Workshop… who knows?

-- tim hill

3 comments so far

View Les Hastings's profile

Les Hastings

1305 posts in 3773 days

#1 posted 09-28-2009 04:20 AM

Looks like its going together well, neat project.

Just one question though. Why did you decide to laminate the top rail instead making it out of two pieces of solid lumber?

-- Les, Wichita, Ks. (I'd rather be covered in saw dust!)

View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4400 days

#2 posted 09-28-2009 04:45 AM

Great tip on cutting the two pieces the same length.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View newTim's profile


607 posts in 3606 days

#3 posted 09-28-2009 06:12 AM

Thanks Karson. Les, I used bent laminations so I could learn more about the technique. For the inner arch I could have used one piece of wood about 7 1/2” wide or glued a couple together. Or I could have cut segments on an angle like the gate. One thing about the bent lams is you can get a really tight fit, in this case because it is molded to the arch above.

-- tim hill

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