Built-In Bed #2: SUDO: Make Me a Sandwich

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Blog entry by Scott R. Turner posted 11-10-2010 03:26 AM 6969 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Pleasing the Customer Part 2 of Built-In Bed series Part 3: All These Sandwiches Are Making Me Hungry »

(The Story So Far: Our Hero is constructing a built-in bed for his daughter, with inadequate tools and woodworking experience.)

As mentioned in my previous post, one of the challenges of this project is to construct the large, 1 1/2” thick panels that make up the bed sides. These panels are 96” tall and 58” wide, so they cannot be cut from a single sheet of plywood. (The built-in is sized to fit a full size mattress.) They are intended to be 1 1/2” thick, so I have decided to make them with two 1/2” plywood sides and some 1/2” plywood spacers, as illustrated here:

I have to admit that when I picked up the hard foam insulation sheet (which I’m using as a sacrificial support when cutting the plywood) I was tempted to make the sandwich with a foam sheet on the inside. But there are a couple of problems with that approach. First, making the “extension” to reach the required 58” width would have been difficult; obviously the foam couldn’t be counted on for structural support. Second, I don’t really have the equipment to do the full sheet glue up that would be required. I could certainly rig some weights up and press the sandwich together, but I dubious that I could keep things centered and eliminate voids.

My plan to make the plywood sandwiches was to use screws. For one skin I can screw the skin to the spacers from the spacer side. For the other skin I have to put screws into the skin, but this will eventually be painted so that’s not too terrible—spackle over the screws and paint it up. In the event, this worked fairly well, although I used a lot more screws than I thought I would have to use. Even on the first skin, I ended up having to screw down the “extension” to avoid a noticeable seam.

Here’s what that ended up looking like. You can see the row of screws along the extension edge:

I forget to snap any pictures while the spacer skeleton was visible; I’ll do that on the next panel.

Another tricky bit for this panel was the knee curve. It’s a 12” radius curve, so I made a template out of some extra 1/4” plywood I had laying around. (I drew the curve freehand with a 12” string attached to a pencil and then cut it out as carefully as I could with a jigsaw.) I cut the straight edges of the panel skins with the circular saw down to where the curve started, and then finished the curve with a jigsaw. I also ended up cutting a curved 12×12 inch spacer piece. When everything was put together, the straight edge along the top front of the panel and the horizontal top edge lined up very well. The bottom front edge didn’t line up quite so well, so I took an 1/8” off the front with the circular saw and fence after it was glued up to even up that edge. The curve is also a bit of a mess, and I’ll probably have to go over it with a router and a trim bit to get it consistent. (I’m afraid if I take a rasp to it I’ll tear out the edges.)

The last step was to glue on a 3/4” facing to the bottom front edge. I got started on that and discovered that my pipe clamps didn’t quite reach the full width of the panel. That led to this kludged up arrangement:

I haven’t taken it apart yet, but it looked like it made for a solid glue-up, even though I wasn’t able to use a lot of clamping pressure. In retrospect I thought I should have clamped the 2×4 to the far edge in addition to clamping it down.

2 comments so far

View botanist's profile


167 posts in 4781 days

#1 posted 11-10-2010 04:36 PM

Love the title of the post and it looks like a great project. Good luck with it!

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

276 posts in 4431 days

#2 posted 11-10-2010 04:52 PM

Yes, that title might go over the heads of the non-geeks :-)

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