shaker-ish bed, first pole lathe project

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Project by jdh122 posted 02-15-2015 08:22 PM 2443 views 4 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My new bed. Made from yellow birch, except for the posts, which I turned on my springpole lathe out of some kind of maple that a neighbor had cut down. I think it might be Norway maple, it certainly was lighter and weaker than the birch boards (so not sugar maple). I split them out of the log and turned them green. But they went extremely oval as they dried and I’ve discovered since that I can turn kiln-dried wood just fine on my alcohol-powered lathe, so I’m not sure that green is worth the bother. I know that the turning is pretty basic, no beads or coves, but I’m still a beginner turner. Plus I like the simple, plain look.
The maple was so much lighter in color than the birch that I decided to use orange shellac rather than tung oil and to put more coats on the legs. Took a lot of coats, padded on, but the result is a really nice finish after buffing it with steel wool and applying paste wax. This may be my new go-to finish.
It was very difficult to do the mortises in the round legs. Chopped the first one with chisels and then did the three others with brace and auger followed by chisels. I got the mortises mostly at 90 degrees from each other and in the middle of the legs, but I see why people often leave part of the leg square to receive the tenons. I scribed the rails to fit around the posts, but it was hard to eliminate the gaps entirely (see photo). It might have been easier with scribing (in-canel) gouges rather than regular carving gouges, but I have enough superfluous rarely-used tools as it is without buying these.
Thanks for looking.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

6 comments so far

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 3158 days

#1 posted 02-16-2015 01:05 AM

I love it. The design is simple and beautiful. Congrats on the fine lathe-work.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View jim1953's profile


2743 posts in 4812 days

#2 posted 02-16-2015 03:56 AM

great lookin bed

-- Jim, Kentucky

View jdh122's profile


1215 posts in 3788 days

#3 posted 02-16-2015 07:32 PM

Thanks for the compliments, Mark and Jim. I slept in it last night for the first time…

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View BikerDad's profile


347 posts in 4571 days

#4 posted 03-12-2016 12:35 AM

That’s a nice, simple, elegant design. Love it.

-- I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! Grace & Peace.

View BuffaloMntWW's profile


5 posts in 1456 days

#5 posted 01-26-2017 01:46 PM

Hey I’m looking to build a similar bed. How did you join the head board? Mine will be a little larger (king size) and i’m a little concerned about wood movement.

View jdh122's profile


1215 posts in 3788 days

#6 posted 03-09-2017 05:19 PM

Sorry, didn’t see your question. If you haven’t yet made the bed. There are two mortises, above and below the little half-moon. The top one is glued-in as usual, while the bottom one has a dowel through the post into the tenon. But the tenon has a groove rather than a hole to receive the dowel, and the mortise is slightly longer than the tenon. The allows the headboard to move…

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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