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Double Single Bed #5: Bed Bolts & Final Assembly

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Blog entry by ttocsmi posted 01-25-2016 02:55 PM 541 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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With the dry-fit of the headboards complete, it was time to drill holes for the bed bolts. (Sorry, no pictures. I’m sure you can imagine what holes look like.)

The 3/8 inch holes through the posts were done earlier on the drill press (see part #3). Two were off-center by about 1/16 inch, but the rest were spot-on. To bore into the rails, I set up the mini-jig below for each joint.

The rail is held in place using some scrap 4×4 and clamps. The shoulders are flush with the scrap, ensuring minimal lateral movement once the post is in position. I fit the tenon into the post mortise & (using the post hole as a guide) bored a 3/8 inch hole into the end of the rail. This took a while, but I finished soon enough. No issues.

Using the mortising machine, I cut the mortises for the bed bolt nuts. I still haven’t figured out the important tricks for using the bed bolt / nut hardware, so I was expecting a mild headache later when I did the final assembly.

Using a jig from a previous project, I routed shallow mortises for the mattress hangers – 3 per long rail, one on each short rail. Again, no issues. Just time consuming.

Finally, I removed all the burn & planer marks with the #5 1/4 & low angle block planes. After sanding at #180 and #220, all the pieces looked very nice! After one final dry-fit, I brought all the pieces inside to acclimate before glue-up. Again, the garage was a MESS.

Both headboards are shown below, ready for finishing.

During the cleanup / dry fit process, the outside temperature went from cold (upper 30s in the morning) to almost 60 in the afternoon. Even though I had applied 3 coats of Johnson’s paste wax, a nice thin film of rust on the surface of the new table saw soon appeared. Not cool.

We had 3/4 can of walnut gel stain left over from another project, so we used that for the finish. We applied one coat of stain, spreading on heavily and wiping off with cloth rags. The fumes weren’t too bad – which was good, since our dining room table doubles as an indoor workbench. A single coat seemed to be just enough to bring out the dark gain lines in the oak while still preserving contrast with the lighter wood.

I created four different styles of end caps to see which one looked the best: square edge (blah), roundover (abomination), beveled (ugly), & round-nose (is that what it’s called?). I don’t have a router table, so, for the detail work on the end caps, I attached a piece of scrap to the back of each piece…

which was then secured in the vice…

so that the round nose bit could do its work. Each end cap was secured to the post top using glue and a single finish nail then stained.

The garage was thoroughly cleaned & dusted, and all pieces were given a single coat of Bulls Eye clear shellack using an HVLP sprayer.

As expected, during final assembly, the bed bolts wouldn’t engage with the nuts. [Insert expletives here] After enlarging the nut holes using the mortiser, the bed bolts engaged the nuts the FIRST TIME and assembly was a snap. Imagine that.

Question: Is it possible to mortise a hole that is deeper than the thickness of the wood (without breaking through the opposite side)? With the enlarged holes, it sure looked like it. It must have been an optical illusion.

Here are the finished frames (note the subtle difference between each headboard):

And the finished beds:

My wife and I completed the two bed frames in record time (for us), with only a couple minor goof-ups. I kept a log of our work time (much more than we had anticipated) & material costs (not too much). If I have the opportunity to build any more bed frames, either for a paying customer or as a gift, I now have a better understanding of where to save time & how to ensure a higher-quality finished product. This was a fun project.

Finally: We finished the bed frames just in time. The following week, COLD winter temps and snow finally arrived. My car was happy to be back in the garage.

Lessons Learned:
  • Consider using bed bolts with the half-moon threaded nuts, like these or these, which look to be much less of a headache.
  • Bed bolt holes: make slightly larger than the nuts, perhaps 1/8 inch each direction.
  • Scuff sand after staining and after first coat of shellac
  • Apply two coats of shellac
  • Apply shellac in warmer temperatures

-- Knight of Sufferlandria 2015



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