Built-In Bed #4: Scraping By

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Blog entry by Scott R. Turner posted 11-17-2010 05:29 AM 5113 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: All These Sandwiches Are Making Me Hungry Part 4 of Built-In Bed series Part 5: A Thin Veneer of Civilization »

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

I’ve spent the last couple of days finishing up the panels that make up the sides of the bed enclosure and bookshelves.

Part of the effort is to finish the edges so that I can put on face boards or prepare the surface for veneering. The panels are a sandwich of 3 sheets of plywood, so naturally they do not line up perfectly at the edges. The straight edges I could finish up pretty easily with either the saw or hand planes, but the knee curve in the large panels was more difficult. My initial plan was to use the router and some sort of template bit (and I even went so far as to buy a 1.5” bottom bearing trim bit), but that plan ran into a couple of problems. I rarely use my router handheld, and I’ve never done work with a template before, and it turns out that my Bosch router has some sort of oddball template system. I could have mounted my template on the bottom side of the piece and used the trim bit without a template bearing, but as I was thinking on that I ended up flattening the curve manually with this tool:

I don’t know what Kobalt calls this exactly, or even why I originally bought it, but I find it a very useful tool for rough shaping of wood in situations where planes and files are hard to bring to bear. It made pretty short work of scraping out the various bumps in the curve, and then I finished it off with some 80 grit in my random orbit sander.

I also needed to put a rabbet in the back of each panel to accept the back panel of the bookshelves. Again, my original thought was to use the router, but I realized that I could do the rabbet easily with the circular saw. That’s partly because of how I built the back of each panel. On the backs of the panels, I recessed the middle sheet of plywood by a half-inch, resulting in a half-inch channel down the back edge of each panel:

The purpose of this channel is to run electrical wiring for the sconce lamps that will eventually be mounted inside the bed enclosure. But the channel also made it easy to cut the rabbet—I just had to take the circular saw and slice a 1/4” off of one of the side sheets of plywood. (In fact, the left side sheet in the picture above has been rabbeted.)

This is where I made my only major mistake in the project (so far): I rabbeted the wrong side of one of the large panels. Grrr… I was afraid of doing that, thought about it several times, marked the orientation of both of the large panels, and still cut the wrong side. At least the error will be at the back of the piece!

I also made a minor mistake in trimming the bottom of one panel. After finishing, I realized that the trim cut was not square. That was really baffling, particularly after I checked my saw and found it square. Eventually I realized that to cut through the full 1.5” of the panel, I had lowered the circular saw to the point where the motor housing rode on top of the rail on my cutting jig, tilting the saw as it was cutting. A useful tip if you’re going to be cutting plywood with a circular saw and a jig!

I also measured my daughter’s room again and realized that the full 96” panels were not going to fit into her room, where the 96” nominal ceiling is actually about 95” thanks to wooden flooring and so on. So I went back to all four panels and cut them down to 94.5”. This was a little trickier than it might sound because I was afraid of hitting a buried screw in the middle of the sandwich, so I had to carefully cut through the top ply, chisel that off and check for screws before completing the cut.

At the end of the night the panels were finished except for painting and application of the veneer trim on the large panels. Progress is being made!

2 comments so far

View lanwater's profile


3113 posts in 4175 days

#1 posted 11-17-2010 08:36 AM

A couple of month ago I bought the hardware for a murphy’s bed from Rockler. that bed was to go in the play room along with some bookcases. To make the story short, I screwed up on the mesurement. I got so upset I never did it. Maybe During christmas break.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

276 posts in 4430 days

#2 posted 11-17-2010 03:19 PM

I seem to always mis-measure or mis-cut or otherwise stumble from my plans, so I have to be a little more accepting :-)

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