Olivia’s Bed – Headboard and Footboard

The head and footboard are constructed from solid 8/4 red oak for the legs and arches. The cross bars are 6/4 thickness.  The panels are nominally 1/2″ thick.

Panels

The panels in each are laminated form 2 sheets of nominal 1/4″ plywood. The pretty quarter sawn oak plywood is only 1/4″ thick and I was afraid that eventually the kids would put a foot through it so I laminated a lesser grade of oak plywood onto  it for the sides that are not readily seen (facing the mattress and the wall behind the headboard).

Panel with glue applied

The panel pieces are 26.5″ wide and 13-17″ tall. The pieces are rough cut to size and glued with Titebond Cold Press glue. This glue is designed for vacuum pressing of veneers.  On the work surface, I have piled multiple layers of scrap kraft packing paper. This way I can pull off a sheet after glueing up each panel. This avoids accidentally getting glue drips on the veneer faces and either having a splotch or inadvertently gluing the stacked panels together. I use a notched spreader with its finest v-notches for spreading the glue (barely visible in the lower right corner).  The front and back of each piece are taped together with some blue masking tape.

Next, the pieces are placed in the vacuum bag. Given that I am using a 4×4′ bag I need to stack the pieces, otherwise there is not enough room in a single pressing for all of them. I place the pairs with the lesser quality veneers facing each other. I usually also place a piece of paper between the pieces so they don’t get stuck together and pull of bits of veneer (and I forgot this time). This is a budget vacuum bagging setup with home made bag and used surplus vacuum pump (and the rig is due for an upgrade) .

Side rabbet plane in use

With the panels glued up and trimmed to size the footboard can be assembled. There was a bit of trimming of the dadoes that the panels fit in. The plane shown is made just for this task.   This is my 3rd one (Veritas Side Rabbet Plane) and works FAR FAR better than my old Stanley (very had to adjust and would not hold) or the Woodcraft / Wood River (crappy blades).   This is a particular tool where going for a good one saves a LOT of frustration.  Trimming the sides of the dadoes is never easy but this tool does it well.

Footboard Assembly

Once everything is dry fitted, the parts are sanded to 220 grit. Note that as I designed this, there are offsets or reveals at every joint. This means no having to plane and sand the joints flush. This is a big time savings and I think it also adds visual interest.  It is also a necessity if using a finish first / glue second technique as I have done on other beds and Isla’s crib.  This bed is conventionally done assemble first and finish second as I wanted the arches for the headboard to be the same thickness as the legs.

 

 

Footboard clamped up

The footboard assembly is pretty straightforward.The full size footboard can be clamped using a combination of the workbench end vise and pipe clamps. It also needed the diagonal clamp to square it up. Even though the joints looked tight it was about 1/8″ off top to bottom.

Headboard panels

The headboard panels need to be trimmed to fit. The arches were marked out with a batten so there is no template. The easiest thing to do is to use the arch to scribe the cut line.  A fence was set along the bottom edge of the panel at twice the dado depth. This way the arch edge could be traced onto the panel from underneath.

Headboard panel ready for tracing
Traced arch outline on panel

The arch was then cut on the 12″ bandsaw with a 1/4″ skip tooth blade.  There was a bit of fitting to do for the panels.

Headboard assembly

The headboard was then glued up starting with Titebond 3 for the stretcher tenons and the dadoes for the panels. Once the stretchers were loosely assembled the panels were inserted. For the arches,  tinted and thickened epoxy for the arches.  The epoxy was used to gain some extra strength and make up for some slop in a couple of the biscuit slots.  The top 3 decorative spacers are simply set in their (tight) slots with no glue.  This was a 2 person job with Teal helping as the gluing assistant.

While this was curing, I glued up the first of the base cabinets. There are 2 of these and they are primarily held together with biscuits per the FWW article.  

There was a bit of clean up on the headboard arch joints. The ends of the top arch were purposely about 1/16″ long and needed to be planed flush with the legs. The bottom arch needed a slight amount of planing for a perfect match to the leg posts.

 

Olivia’s Bed – First Cuts

Some cuts, such as the legs and horizontal rails are quite straight forward.  However, the headboard top arches are not, requiring a specific sequence of cuts to not waste material and get good crisp joints. When I was purchasing the wood, one piece stood out as a perfect candidate for the top arches. However, it had little extra width to spare. This ruled out cutting the arches on the CNC router, as I could not spare the extra half inch for the router bit.

The sketch below from my notebook, shows the sequence of cuts but the upper edge is not shown (and it must be parallel to the bottom edge as it is the reference in cuts 7 and 8.  The layout of the arches was done with a wooden batten board about 3/8″ thick. Unfortunately, I did not have enough hands or enough patience to get photos of that part of the process.

Arches cut sequence

The ends (cuts 1&2) were made to overhang the leg posts by ~1/16″ on each end. I figured it would be easier to trim the ends of the top arch rather than the whole of the length of the legs to fit. Cut 3 frees up the top arch and then with the table saw fence set, cuts 5 and 6 are made. Be sure to make them on the “top side” of the line so that when you clean up the underside of the top arch, you do not intrude on the joints.  Some may say that my cuts (4&5) were excessively conservative in this regard (oh well – learn  from my mistakes).  When making large radius cuts like these, use a wide blade. I had a 3/4″ blade in my 24″ 7.5HP bandsaw for this. Yes, a 12-14″ bandsaw with a 1/2″ 3 TPI skip tooth blade would work great for these cuts. The ripples you see in the cuts are due to the blade having been previously kinked and then pounded out sort of flat due to a free hand log bandsawing missile mishap a few years ago (another story for another time).

After Cut 3 which separates the upper and lower arches, you can do 4&5 which set the bottom of the top arch square. Cuts 7&8 set the width of the headboard. So these are critical to get right. These cuts are referenced to the “bottom” of the board and shown above.

After the lower arch is cut out, and the bottom of the top arch (cuts 4&5) are made it is time for a dry fit up to see if things are aligning properly. As you can see above, the joints line up nicely. Now I can proceed with the final arch cuts.

Once the arches are cut out, it is time to do the final shaping and smoothing. This requires a spokeshave for the concave surfaces, a hand plane for the convex and a large sanding block with 60, 80, 120 grit sanding belt stock (yes there is a second life for broken sanding belts).  A card scraper works over select sections that need help.

As you can see in the photo above, the legs have mortises for the horizontal cross rails.  I like to cut the tenons for long pieces like the cross rails on the radial arm saw, equipped with a stacked dado blade set. 

The arches are joined with biscuits. Two #0 biscuits are used for each joint.  The headboard also gains strength from the large  (1×1.5×1″) tenons on the cross rails , one of which you can see being cut above.

The biscuit slots in the leg and top arch are shown below. Close-up of the initial fit up of the head board arches.

This is the headboard first dry fit assembly    Next will be the panels and dividers.

 

 

 

 

 

A Bed for Olivia

With another child on the way, my grand-daughter Olivia will need to give up her old crib / bed for the new child in a few months.   So it is time to make her a bed that will last for a few generations.

Kelly and David wanted one with storage underneath. We sent photos of various options back and forth. The lofted ones were discarded. The one closest to what they wanted had an arched headboard and low footboard. They did not want a very tall headboard, so that it could be placed in front of the window.  I did some more digging and ran across an article on Fine Woodworking for a storage under a bed.   David and Kelly did not care for that bed design but liked the storage.   So now it was time to rough out the design in Sketchup.

 Each side would have 2 drawers and a cubby at the headboard end. This allows for placing nightstands alongside without obstructing the storage. The drawers will run on undermount drawer slides.  The flat panels in the head and footboards are not terribly large and as luck would have it, I can use a beautiful piece of quarter sawn oak plywood left over from the last Dresser Project end panels for the forward facing sides!

The drawer faces will be inset slightly from the dividers. As I modeled overlay drawers, they just did not look right next to the cubby. We can play with the amount of inset, 3/4″ is shown in the rendered image.

I often have some extra days off around the Christmas and New Year and there is generally a furniture project that takes up much of that time . This year it is Olivia’s bed.

Now it was time to run to the local lumber mill – Kettle Moraine Hardwoods for the solid stock.  I found some beautiful 8/4 Red Oak for the posts and arches and 6/4 for the horizontal rails. There was a good selection of 4/4 #1 Common that really would have been Select if it was longer.  I came back with easily twice what I needed for the project (always build back stock).  A few days later, David and I made a trip to Menards for the rest of the plywood. I did not need any “fancy plywood” as most of it will be hidden, so I could not justify a trip up to Alpine Plywood (which is where the quarter sawn oak plywood came from).

Next:

Chicken Pot Pie

Teal really like chicken pot pies.   However, I find them to be typically bland, pasty and just not worth the calories.   So on a cold, dreary late fall day, Teal asked if we could make pot pies.  I took up the challenge: to make a pot pie that is actually worth eating.

The engineering mind took over.  I was thinking  about what makes them so boring?  The answer is, there is  a lack of caramelization,  too much goo (a.k.a “gravy”) and few if any spices.  So, I set out to correct these deficiencies and add a few twists.  I started with a small batch of 4 servings figuring I could scale it up later if they turned out.  These are still not “health food” but still better than what you will find in the frozen foods section of your local store.  If the steps below seem like a lot, remember that each is done while you are chopping the next. It is an efficient use of your time.

Teal enjoying the pot pie

Veggies

3 large carrots, washed, scraped of dark spots and cut into ~3/8″ pieces

2 medium onions chopped to about the same size

1 large pinch of dried thyme crushed

1 pinch of savory crushed

1-2  tsp sweet paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Saute the carrots in bacon grease (about 1 TB) for 3 min on med-high heat so they just barely start to brown and then add the onions. Keep stirring until the onions are thoroughly translucent  and soft. Then dump them out into a large mixing bowl and heap into a pile while mixing in the  thyme and savory, 1 tsp sweet paprika as well as salt and pepper to taste.  Heaping will conserve the heat and keep them cooking.  The carrots should be slightly soft at this point.

Leave the pan  on the stove, off the heat.    Other veggies can be added, but Teal prefers that we stick to the basics (certainly no celery or parsnips). 1-2 small (sweet) potatoes might be acceptable, but we were out.   At this point, the fry pan is sticky with bits of the veggies – these will come off as the chicken (below) cooks.

Chicken

1 package – about 1- 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  Remove connective tissue, and excess fat. Chop into 1/2″ pieces.

Dredge the chicken in 3-4 TBsp flour with 1 tsp granulated garlic. This will be a sticky gooey mess. Chicken will be coated but not “dry”.

Add 1 TBsp bacon grease to the pan. Then add the chicken and saute until lightly browned and tender. Stir to break up the pieces, but pause enough to let each side brown a bit.  We use thighs as they can withstand the higher temps needed for browning, while staying tender unlike breast meat.   Once browned and tender, remove from the heat and dump into the bowl with the veggies reserving any left-over grease. Note that at this point, the chicken is completely cooked and food safe if you want to save these for later.

Sauce / gravy

Pot pies need some sauce, but not the pasty white stuff you often see. It needs some flavor from our friendly Maillard reactions.   This starts with a browned roux.: 3-4 TBsp flour, 1-2 TBsp bacon grease. Stir over medium high heat. All of the flour should be coated and thick (and not runny). Now cook, while stirring constantly, until it is a light caramel brown.   Next whisk in 3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock until it thickens and is smooth with no or minimal lumps.

Add 10 oz  frozen baby peas to the veggies and chicken,  then add the sauce and stir gently to mix.

Pot Pies

Divide the mixture into four  approximately 5″ wide oven proof ramekins. Cover with a thin layer of pie crust. Our favorite is: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/classic-single-pie-crust-recipe .

A typical single crust recipe will have a lot left over.  So you will have the opportunity for odd shaped pie crust cookie snacks  – cover with cinnamon sugar and bake with the pot pies. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake at 425  for 30-40 min until the crust is crispy.  Remember to remove the snack pieces before they burn (about 10 min).   Let the pot pies rest about 15 min before serving.

With the added flavor of the caramelization, high proportion of veggies and herbs, even I like these pot pies. They will now be one of our winter staples.  The pies can be frozen par-baked, so the crust starts to set up  and then heated and served.