Cherry Bunkbed

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Project by Alin Dobra posted 10-05-2007 04:09 AM 1870 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I made this bed for my 5 year old son from cherry I got at a local mill. The design is from Wood magazine (bought online). The original design recommended using oak for the whole bed except the panels, for which oak plywood was recommended. I decided to use only solid cherry since I could find enough with a similar look (I suspect it comes from the same tree).

This is the first piece of furniture I made out of cherry and I am really impressed with the look cherry gets after some aging. This is also the first project that I sanded completely by hand. This might sound crazy but, as I will explain, it works faster than random orbit sanding.

*Efficient hand sanding method:

I use the new 5x Norton sanding paper. It works really well and it is supper efficient. I purchased about 10 sanding blocks from Wal-mart that have an ergonomic design (fit well in the hand and are comfortable even after prolonged use). I have each grit in a separate sanding block and I align all sanding blocks on the work table. I start sanding with 100 grit with long strikes and I cover each face 4 times. Then, I switch to progressively smaller grits and I do only 3 passes with light pressure. The moves are very long and the whole thing feels like working in the gym. I can usually send for about 1 hour like this and I get a really good workout as well. Since I can switch between grits in about 3 seconds and I can be quite aggressive, I am sanding very fast and efficiently. The final result is really good and, since I sand along the grain all the time, I get no visible sanding scratches at all. I think that, with the random orbit sander I go at least 3-4 times slower. Even if you factor out time to catch your breath, sanding by hand still seems faster. Of course, this method works well on large flat surfaces with little joinery. Since this project, I use the random orbit sander only for sanding joints (wood grain changes direction) or in tight spaces.

While the sanding paper I use is expensive (about 1$/sheet), I find that I use very little. I bought packs of 20 sheets 1 year ago and, by the way things look, I will still have enough for at least another year.

I realize that the sanding method I described is a little unorthodox in this day and age but, especially if you are young and want to stay in shape, you might want to give it a try. Having comfortable sanding blocks is essential though.

Happy woodworking,

-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

9 comments so far

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4106 days

#1 posted 10-05-2007 05:14 AM

Alin -

I love cherry. This is a beautiful bed . . . thanks for sharing!


View cajunpen's profile


14575 posts in 4033 days

#2 posted 10-05-2007 11:46 AM

Very nice piece Alin, but at my age, I’ll sand with all the electricity I can muster :-))

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased."

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4128 days

#3 posted 10-05-2007 01:45 PM

great info on sanding

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4282 days

#4 posted 10-08-2007 12:39 AM

Hand sanded…that is primitive! Does a nice job I see!

View Alin Dobra's profile

Alin Dobra

351 posts in 3856 days

#5 posted 10-08-2007 03:05 AM


I’m doing now a bookshelf in the same style and I’ll hand sand it as well. I just cannot take the vibration from the random orbit sander and, as I mentioned, I’m faster if I work by hand. Takes a lot of sweat but I need to work out more anyway.


-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

View Peter Knight's profile

Peter Knight

53 posts in 3124 days

#6 posted 10-08-2009 05:25 AM

Very nice!

may I ask the name of the mill that you purchased the lumber from? I’m only two hours south, and my sister and Parents both live in the Gainesville area, so I’m up there rather often.

Thank you in advance.


View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3545 days

#7 posted 10-08-2009 07:41 AM

Wow thia is great Alin well done.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Alin Dobra's profile

Alin Dobra

351 posts in 3856 days

#8 posted 10-08-2009 02:09 PM


It is a mill in Williston (I do not remember the name but they should be in the yellowbook). They have cherry only occasionally but they do not dry it properly and it is a nuisance to work with (it all bend on me when the piece was done). I since stopped buying from them alltogether.


-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

View Peter Knight's profile

Peter Knight

53 posts in 3124 days

#9 posted 10-09-2009 04:48 AM

ahh, thanks for that tip. Most of the sawyers I knew of up there were focused on all the pine plantations in the area.

I’m still looking around down here, trying to find a better source, It’ll be a while until I have the volume to command a distributors proper attention.

Thanks again.

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