Oak headboard

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Project by Skip Brewer posted 05-07-2011 06:49 PM 1574 views 1 time favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

So a few years ago, my wife and I bought a new Sleep Number bed. It is a great bed, but it did not come with a headboard, footboard or siderails. I promised my wife at the time that I would build her a new headboard, went out and bought a bunch of oak and started thinking of designs. As often happens, I got busy with other things, and the wood sat in my shop for over three years waiting for me to get back to the project. I finally got inspired a couple of months ago and started working on the project.

The entire headboard is red oak. The legs are 3-3/8” square. I cut 7/4 stock to approximate width and jointed one face of each board, then planed the opposite face parallel. I then face glued the boards together to make the leg blanks. Once they were dry, I jointed two adjoining faces square, then planed the opposite faces to get the thickness. I routed flutes in three sides and treated the edges with stopped chamfers. The 4th side was for the joinery.

I had a few ups and downs (don’t we always?) – I hadn’t worked with mortise and tenon joints before, and each of the rails and all 22 of the slats use those joints. I actually had to replace two of the rails because I screwed up the mortises for the slats so badly. At first I tried using a forstner bit and power drill to create the mortises, but I couldn’t seem to get then straight enough. My original rails were of 7/4 stock jointed and planed down to 1-1/2”. After I screwed up the mortises, I set that stock aside and bought some 4/4 stock. After jointing and planing it down to 3/4”, I used a technique I found in a Woodsmith book on bedroom furniture. I marked out the locations of the mortises on each board (2 boards per rail) and then I clamped all 4 boards together, edge to edge, on my radial arm saw and used my dado set to rout out dados in all of the boards. Once that was done, I face-glued the boards together in pairs. The matching dados created a through mortise for each slat. Not only easier, but by doing all of the boards at once, I was assured of having the mortises in the upper and lower rails match up. After the first dado was cut, I put a long piece of scrap cut to the width of the dado in the first dado on all of the boards to keep the boards lined up during subsequent cuts. I also cut out about 6 pieces of scrap the height and width of the mortises and about 2 ” longer than the width of the rails. I waxed these scraps and used them to line up the boards during glue-up to keep the mortises aligned.

The panels at the top are from a piece of 5/4 stock planed down to about 1” and then raised on the router table. I used an old Vermont American router template jig to rout the names in the panel. (Heres a tip – if you do that, rout the names before your raise the panel!)

I was able to use my plunge router to create the mortises in the legs for the rails and panel frame. Creating the tenons on the ends of the rails was a bit harder, due to the length. I ended up doing the cheeks of the tenons on my RAS using a dado blade, and cut the shoulders by hand. The tenons on the slats were all cut with a tenoning jig on the table saw.

Finish is just Minwax Golden Oak stain (1 coat) and about 3 coats of satin poly, with 2 more coats of wipe-on poly.

-- Skip, Califormia

1 comment so far

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3158 days

#1 posted 05-08-2011 08:00 AM


Nice work, I made my son a bed last year, I feel your pain when

it comes to messing up a great piece of wood.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

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