Cedar Tatami bed

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Project by CrankAddict posted 09-18-2019 03:20 AM 679 views 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m brand new to woodworking (I’d only made one thing, a picture frame, prior to this project) so this was definitely a case of biting off more than I could chew. Not only in terms of skills required, but also in terms of overall time to complete. I worked on this thing every spare minute I had for around 5 weeks. I estimate roughly 60 hours of effort. At times it really felt like it would never end. Not what I expected when I was putting together this “simple” design! I had long term plans to build a fancier bed, but the arrival (or probably more accurately, the first sighting) of some brown recluse spiders in my house suddenly motivated me to stop sleeping on the floor :) The concept was to make a bed with cedar lumber that I could get at the local big box the same day (because you know, this should be a 4-5 hour project tops so I can’t possibly wait a few days to get lumber from out of town). I also wanted to avoid using any fasteners or glue. At this point I’m not even sure why I wanted to avoid fasteners, as it should have been obvious to me that this contradicted my “quick and easy” goals.

Anyway, in the end it was a great learning opportunity. I enjoyed using a marking knife and gauge for the first time, the precision it offers really appeals to my OCD. Unfortunately, the 2×8’s cupped on me halfway through the project so all my early attempts and producing zero-gap joints ended up with me doing hours of chiseling and sanding to allow things to actually fit together. In the end, everything fits very snugly and requires some gentle mallet nudges, but there are still visible gaps. Kind of weird, but I’m 16” above the spiders now and that’s what really counts ;)

I also really enjoyed using a Japanese saw for the first time. My table saw couldn’t cut deep enough for notching the 6×6 timbers, but it produced a great guide to allow the saw to track the remainder of the line nicely. And the Dewalt planer really impressed me with how quickly it turned those fuzzy 6×6s into smooth-as-glass 5.75×5.75s. Can’t imagine trying to do that by hand!

I finished it with Watco Danish oil and let it cure for about 5 days before moving it into my room. Still kind of stinks but hopefully it’s past the toxic off-gassing stage at this point. Feels really good to have it done and surprisingly I’m ok with its flaws (I’m sure in the future I’ll be less tolerant of such things, but for now it’s easy to justify as necessary to learning).

Thanks for looking!

7 comments so far

View swirt's profile


4238 posts in 3485 days

#1 posted 09-18-2019 03:49 AM

The bed looks nice with great joinery. Nice design.

-- Galootish log blog,

View therealSteveN's profile


3916 posts in 1087 days

#2 posted 09-18-2019 04:23 AM

Firsts are good learning tools. lots of firsts here, and what looks like a nice bed frame. One of the oldest axioms in woodworking is remove everything that doesn’t look like an X and it leaves you with an X. In this case insert bed frame for X. It doesn’t matter which tools you use, just that you enjoy the journey.

What you may not realize is you did a crash course in problem solving. if you can do that woodworking is a breeze.

Nice job.

-- Think safe, be safe

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