Thursday, July 25, 2019

King Bed Headboard - Part 6: Finishing Up and Installing

For a finish, I tested both shellac and BLO on some scrap to see what I liked better.  Well, I asked the wife which she liked, so it didn't much matter which I liked better.  She wanted shellac.  I didn't get any pictures during the process, but I put three coats of shellac, sanding between coats (both big jobs!), and then applied paste wax, buffing with a cloth and a brush.  It looks good.  She didn't want a glossy finish and this came out just right.

Getting this headboard installed was a lot more tedious than I thought it would be.  I hadn't pre-drilled any holes to bolt it to the frame, so everything had to be done in the bedroom.  It's challenging to do this stuff in situ and not on a workbench.
End of the bed frame, showing mounting holes
Placing the headboard up to the frame, I traced the hole locations on the posts.
Marking a line at center of the hole locations, and nicking the inside corner
From the knife nick on the corner, I transferred the location of the hole to the back side.  I used a marking gauge to make sure back and front hole locations were the same distance from the inside surface of the posts.  I then drilled with brace and bit a 3/4" hole about 5/8" deep at the back and a 5/16" hole from the front through to the 3/4" hole.  I used 5/16" bolts because that was the largest size that would fit through the frame holes.
5/16" holes at front
3/4" counterbores at the back
It was a little finicky getting the bolts through and threaded onto the nuts, but it all came together
The 3/4" counterbore fit 3/4" washers and the right size socket for the nuts
Before ...
and ... after
Another view
I had expected that I'd leave the headboard out in the sun for a few days (or weeks) to darken the cherry.  But when it was finished, we realized that it looked really good and the color matched other furniture in the room, so no sun-darkening was done.

And yes, those are sea otters on the bed (not mine) next to the alligator (mine - I was a Florida Gator, after all).

And yes, that red book on my nightstand is my copy of LAP's "The Joiner and Cabinetmaker".

All-in-all, a great project with lots of challenges.  So glad it's done!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

King Bed Headboard - Part 5: Tenons For the Rails, Shaping and Glue-up

Coming into the home stretch.  With the posts mortised, I had to tenon the rails.  These are the widest pieces I've ever put tenons on and that requires an 8" long shoulder cut.  I didn't want the saw to wander, so I used a batten with one square corner clamped to the work-piece to guide my cut.
Pressing the saw plate against the side of the batten
I placed the batten about 1/32" past the knife line.  After the shoulders were cut, I removed the tenon waste by splitting most of it away and following up with a variety of methods.  Later, I chiseled the shoulder to the knife line.

Did I mention that working with very long stock presents challenges?  At first I clamped the rail to the benchtop and split off the waste with a chisel held horizontally.  But it was tough to see what was going on, so I changed tack and clamped the rail at an angle in the vise.
Splitting off the waste
There was one snafu: I wasn't careful enough at one point and when the waste split away it knocked a chip off the show face of the rail.
Nasty chip out of the rail's front face
Remarkably I was able to find the exact chip and glue it back on.  I'll always know this "defect" is there, but I'm sure nobody else will notice.
Chip glued back on and surface cleaned up - almost like it never happened
After splitting off most of the tenon waste, I chiseled cross-grain to get it close to the layout lines and followed up with a router plane to get a consistent level.
Chiseling to the layout lines
Router plane to make the depth consistent
It's very important to develop the skill to level a tenon cheek with a chisel alone.  One of my rails had a low spot (in its thickness) on the back side in the location of the tenons, extending about 8" along the length of the rail.  That meant the back face of that rail was not parallel with the front face.  If I tried to level the tenon cheek with a router plane, it would just follow the contour of the low spot, resulting in a tenon that was thinner one side than the other.

Later, I used a smoothing plane for final fitting of the tenons to the mortises.  An old wooden skewed rabbet plane helped me get into the corners.
Final fitting using a #4
After the tenons were cut, I dry-assembled the rails with a few slats so that I could transfer the mortise locations in the posts to the tenons on the rails.
Marking the tenon extents directly from the post mortises
Another view
Extended the lines, marked the waste and cut the tenon shape
There was still a lot of fitting to do.  One joint I had a hard time getting to seat.
Just won't seat!  Open by about 1/32"
I checked the shoulders - they were clean and either 90° or slightly undercut.  I checked the mortises - they were deep enough to take the tenons.  So I did the sensible thing and called it a day.  When I got to it the next day, I found the problem quickly and got the joint finished - there was something on a mortise end-wall that was holding it off.
First dry-fit of all joints
With all the joints fitting right, I could get to shaping.  Not much to it here - a curve on the top rail, a chamfer on top and bottom of the posts and a slight rounding of all edges.  The curve had its challenges.  The radius for the curve is 18', 1-1/4".  I thought about having my wife hold a tape measure that distance away from the top center of the rail and marking the circle with her as the center.  In the end, I used Sketchup to get the locations of a few points on the rail to draw a curve through.
First column should read "From Center of Rail"
Using a flexible stick to connect the points
Then I sawed off the waste, keeping the curved off-cuts for use as clamping cauls later, and planed to the lines.
Planing to the lines was easy with a smoother
Laying out and cutting the chamfers was straight-forward.
Layout lines for the 3/8" chamfer on a post
Chiseled away most of the waste, then smoothed to the lines with a plane
Before gluing up, I finish planed all surfaces and scraped any areas that required a little bit more.  I practiced the glue-up at least twice, being very worried about getting it done before the glue started to set.  In the previous post I wrote about possibly draw-boring to pull the rails and posts together.  In the end I decided not to do that, thinking I could clamp the headboard well enough using ratchet straps.  Now that it's done, I feel like I was a bit light on the glue, so I hope I don't regret that decision.
The first rehearsal for glue-up
(Note the clamping cauls atop the upper rail)
Taped these blocks to the posts at each joint
The helper blocks not only keep the posts from being bruised by the strap, but also they have a shallow dado cut in them to allow the strap to fit and be captured with the swiveling lock.  That allowed me to do this by myself - trying to wrestle the ratchet straps into position would have been tough without these blocks.  And I knew time would be critical during this large glue-up.
Here it is glued up, standing on the floor
In the end, the glue-up went well.  Preparation is not underrated!

Next time: adding a finish and installation.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

King Bed Headboard - Part 4: The Posts and Request for Input

The posts for the headboard were to be 3" wide and at least 2 1/2" thick.  I glued them up from 6/4 stock and ended up getting about 2 5/8" thickness.
A post blank glued and in the clamps
After squaring up the blanks and cutting to 51" length, I marked out the mortises.  The following pic shows the extents of the initially 8" wide upper rails, the upper extent of the rail after 3" will be cut away to create the curve on the upper rail, and the 1/2" shoulders.  The heavy line shows where the mortise will go; I haven't yet used a mortise gauge to mark the lateral extents of the mortises.
Mortise locations for the upper rails
Unfortunately I marked them on the wrong side.  I had oriented the posts so that the little bit of sap wood that was left after planing would be on the inside faces.  Fortunately I caught the error long before any mortises were to be cut.
And here's them marked on the proper side, with mortise gauge lines delineating the lateral extents.
Mortises ready to be cut
These mortises were to be 2 1/4" deep and I wanted to keep them as square to that inside face as possible.
I find that orienting myself along the length of the workpiece helps me chop vertically
But I still use a square to verify
First one chopped, cleaned up and complete
This was quite a chore, so I ended up boring out the other three mortises.
Boring out most of the waste
Boring 2 1/4" deep took about 40-42 turns of the 5/16" bit and it got quite hot.  I kept a bowl of water nearby to cool the bit after each hole was bored.
Cooling down the bit
The lower rail will have a double tenon, so the mortise is 7 inches long.  The middle 1" will be only 1/2" deep, but the rest will be 2 1/4" deep.  So I cut the two deeper parts first and then joined them using a saw and 3/8" chisel.
Double mortises done, but center section not yet removed
Used a saw for the sidewalls of the middle part and chisel to remove the waste and level the bottom
I made the mortises this way to help me get the 2 1/4" deep end walls next to the central section as vertical as possible and to get those end walls at the marked location.  If I had chopped/drilled out the center section while I was mortising the two deep sections it would have been harder to get those walls perfectly positioned.

If any of you have read this far, it's time for audience participation.  I'm getting closer to glue-up and have been giving it a lot of thought.  The 78" total length of this headboard is far longer than any clamps I have.  I've thought about ganging clamps together to span that length, but it's really tough to do that by myself.  So I'm thinking about using the draw-boring technique.  I've done this before (maybe only once or twice) but never in cherry wood.  So I did an experiment with some scrap that was about the same thickness as my long rails (just under 1").
Chopped a mortise, prepared a tenon, drilled some holes and made some pegs
Offset the holes in the tenon by about 1/16" from the holes in the mortise
Tapped in the cherry pegs to draw the joint VERY tight
Front side (pegs entered here) after clean-up
Back side after clean-up - there's a tiny crack extending from one peg-hole to the other
In my headboard, I'll place two pegs in the 4" wide mortise/tenon of the upper rail, but the two pegs won't be anywhere near as close to each other as in the above test piece.  The lower rail with twin 3" wide mortises/tenons will have one peg per tenon.

So, here are my questions.  First, does anybody have experience with draw-boring in cherry?  Cherry can be a bit brittle and I'm just a little concerned.  I know I can mitigate cracking like I got in my test joint by off-setting the holes so they don't lie along the same grain lines, but I don't like the look it gives.  Any my holes for the headboard m&t joints will be much farther apart.

Second, I'm making the pegs out of cherry also.  While I'm making them from as straight-grained stock as I can, do I need to worry about them breaking apart from the hammer blows used to drive them in (that wasn't a problem in my test, but my test piece was thinner)?

Finally, the headboard posts (the mortised component) are 2 5/8" thick, so the pegs will be going through more material than in my test piece.  Should I be worried?

Any advice would be helpful.

Friday, July 5, 2019

King Bed Headboard - Part 3: Mortising for the Slats

The design of this headboard includes 11 slats that are oriented vertically between the two horizontal rails.
With 11 slats, there will be 22 mortises
The spacing between the two posts is 72".  I ganged the two rails together to lay out the locations of the slats.  One slat is 8" wide, 6 of them are 5" wide and the remaining 4 are 2 1/2" wide.  This leaves room for 2" between each slat and between the outside slats and the posts.
Laying the slats on a rail to get an idea of the spacing
After marking on the rails' edges where the slats will be positioned, I marked in 1/2" for shoulders of the 5" and 8" slats, and marked in 1/4" for the shoulders of the 2 1/2" slats.  The slats are approximately 3/4" thick and I'll be using a 3/8" chisel for the mortises.  So I set a mortising gauge just wider than the tip of the chisel and marked the mortises in the rails and the tenons for the slats.
Before marking the tenons on the slats, I marked the shoulder lines.
The slats are 11 1/2" long, shoulder to shoulder, plus 5/8" tenons (5/16" for the purpleheart slats).
I started chopping the mortises in the rails, beginning with the one for the center slat.
Chopping the first mortise.  Vertical alignment was aided by a
board clamped to the face of the rail.
I was able to use a router plane to make the mortise bottoms a consistent depth.
Routing the bottom of the relatively shallow mortises.
After chopping the first 6 mortises I changed tactics.  I'd never tried boring out a mortise before, but I tried it here and it worked well for me.  Much quieter than the mallet and chisel.
Boring out a mortise
After paring the walls, checking for square, and paring some more to square them up better, I was happy.
Here's one rail with 11 mortises completed.
Nothing too exciting to see for the tenons.  The shoulders were sawn, the waste was split off, and the final thickness was obtained using a router plane.  Here's a dry fit to see how things are going.
Slats dry-fit to the rails
Next time I'll report on the posts and (hopefully) also fitting the rails and posts together.