3-in-1 baby bed #3: Beefing up the legs

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Blog entry by JSOvens posted 11-25-2016 02:54 AM 1184 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Rough milling - the rough way Part 3 of 3-in-1 baby bed series Part 4: Building the railing - and a new jig »

With rough milling out of the way, I began work on the project with the big beefy leg posts. The main leg blanks measure 3”x4”, so I will need to laminate two boards together to achieve this. All of the lumber I bought was flat sawn, however, with the boards shown below, if I rip them in half, I should get two more-or-less rift sawn pieces (which I hear are more stable and lend themselves well to legs).

I figured the best way to laminate the boards would be to have their end grains oppose each other as shown below.

This way, any movement in one piece would be counteracted by the opposite effect in the other. I just recently acquired the Morris Chair series from the Wood Whisperer, which includes a similar leg glue up and he decided to match the grain directions for greater seemlessness. I have to figure that he knows what he’s doing much more than I, and if it works for him it should work for me. In hindsight, I probably would have preferred matching things better, as the lamination seem is quite obvious in my case. Oh well, I’m just going to have to orient the legs such that the most obvious seems are the least visible.

The glue-up itself was quite uneventful, I ganged the legs together in some parallel clamps and voila!

With similar milling techniques described previously, I ended up with a nice stack of leg posts. You can see some of the obvious seems, especially in some places where I got sapwood included. In the future, I think I would put much less emphasis on highly efficient lumber usage and put more on getting the best grain patterns to complement each component. I should also mention that there are two other, smaller leg posts for the toddler bed mode which I haven’t shown here, but I made those too!

So the next bit is where reality and “the story” I’m presenting will differ a bit. In reality, I worked on some other components for a bit, including the bent lamination forms. Also in reality, progress has been very slow until this point, and it happens that I have just finished the tasks I will be presenting next. I am presenting the steps this way as I believe this next part represents the next step in what might be the logical progression of this project – that is, cutting the joinery in the leg posts.

I began with the knock-down joinery I planned to use for assembly/disassembly of the crib/bed. I finally decided on using what’s called zipbolt connectors which I purchased from Lee Valley. While directions were given as to the location and sizes of the holes required, I decided to make a mock-up of the joint first on some off-cuts from the project.

The photo on the left shows the holes, and the threaded insert and the right hand photo shows the pieces joined together. The joint feels quite tight and strong, and confirmed the sizes I needed for everything. It may be hard to spot in the above photo, but the flange on the threaded insert kind of “pushed” the surrounding grain down on the cherry. To prevent this, I will add a 5/8” counter bore for a more crisp look.

With all of this preamble out of the way, I went on to create a story stick and mark out all of the joinery features on the leg blanks.

These legs are a bit bulky and heavy for the drill press, especially since I haven’t yet gotten around to making any sort of table for it, so I opted to create a couple of drilling guides for a hand drill instead.

These are simply 1” thick bits of wood with the appropriately sized hole drilled into them, and a fence tacked onto one side. The fence ensures consistency in the distance from the edge of the leg blank, and I drew a centre line on the opposite edge of the piece to match up with another centre line drawn on the leg. I decided to test one of the threaded inserts, and the edge around it is now much more crisp with the 5/8” counter bore.

What are the smaller holes for? These are for the joinery of the large horizontal panels to the leg posts. Since these pieces are quite wide, I opted for a draw bored mortise and tenon joint to allow for wood movement. Rather than clumsily try to describe my planned process, here is a pictoral representation:

I will only add glue to the areas shown, allowing for expansion and contraction of the wider pieces away from this glued area via the elongated holes in the tenons. The rectangles around the dowel holes represent where I will also be cutting mortises for the side pieces (as will be seen shortly). With that, I finished all of the holes:

The final step for the joinery is the mortising. With such wide pieces, I simply used an edge guide on my plunge router with a 1/2” spiral bit and cut away.

In this next photo you can see what I was describing regarding the rectangles in the doodle above. I will simply need to make sure the dowel doesn’t protrude into the mortise interfering with the joint. I split these mortises up to give room for the zipbolt connectors.

These mortises were only 3/4” deep, which was a breeze for my router, but the perpendicular mortises are 2”, which probably should be a bit more than my 1-1/2” spiral bit could handle… but I made it work!

After 40 mortises cut and 46 holes drilled (I think I’ve counted right), all the joinery on the legs was completed.

The next step will be to cut some matching tenons in the horizontal panels, but first I’ll have to build a jig to help me with some of the wider tenons, which I will discuss next time.

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

3 comments so far

View CaptainSkully's profile


1612 posts in 4166 days

#1 posted 11-25-2016 03:47 PM

Looking good Jeffrey! The graceful curves of the legs and overall awesome design will distract anyone but yourself from seeing anything you consider an imperfection. One of the rarely mentioned curses of being a woodworker is that for a long time after you’re done with a project, you only see the “mistakes”. It also doesn’t seem fair that in order to progress as a woodworker, you need to take on projects that challenge you so that you make “mistakes”. Two main reasons why I blog about the things I build is so that 1. Others don’t make the same “mistakes” I did and 2. So that I really drive home the lessons I learned in order to not make the same “mistake” again. There are always new mistakes to make. Repeating old ones is boring…

Loving the blog!

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View JSOvens's profile


78 posts in 2264 days

#2 posted 11-27-2016 07:43 AM

I know what you mean. I recently finished a large photo frame, but saw some flaws in the finish. When my wife asked me where I saw them, I brought the frame to the light and started saying something like “well, if you hold it at this angle, then look from this angle…” I quickly realized that nobody’s looking at it like that, and it looks pretty darn good when placed on the wall and viewed from a “normal” perspective.

I like to include what I’m happy about, and what I’m disappointed about in my blog for similar reasons to you, but with the addition of creating something like a time capsule that I can go back and look to to see how I’ve progressed since.

Thanks again for the kind words!

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

View hnau's profile


88 posts in 1150 days

#3 posted 11-30-2016 06:00 PM

-- Spammer in processed of being removed.

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