Brown locust live edge bed - AllWoodJoinery

  • Advertise with us
Project by JohnnyStrawberry posted 10-15-2012 07:35 PM 15413 views 52 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

First, what the heck is brown locust?! It is steamed black locust. I named it brown locust for now. Sorry for that. I actually call it “choco locust” because the rough sawn lumber looks like a bar of fine Swiss dark chocolate if it is steamed properly. I’m very happy that I had the privilege to work with such a beautiful wood. (photo 4 & 5) My signature line is extremely appropriate for this project.
DocSavage (Thomas) had a comment before; he said “…let the wood guide you…” it was in my mind because I felt like that all the time when I was working on this. Special thanks to him.
This bed has a special importance to me – not only because it is my first furniture ever (shop furniture doesn’t count) but with this bed a year old dream has come true. The woodworking bug wouldn’t have bit me if I hadn’t seen that long long film – the Odyssey – you know, with Armand Assante. And there is a scene in which Odysseus explains why he has such a great affection for his home and his wife and among other things he tells that he made their bed with his own hands. And of course, I thought of my darling girlfriend and our life. I was deeply touched… Even thinking of this moment makes me moved now.
I have been building/equipping my shop to actually be able to make this bed. Unless an injury stops me (as it happened in August when I was building my workstation) I will keep up the work to fill our home with the purest furniture I can make.
What do I mean by pure? I have such a deep admiration and respect for the children of Mother Nature called trees that I have the obsession of making furniture exclusively out of wood – no glue, no nails, no screws, not even hinges or drawer slides, only solid wood. (Still shop furniture doesn’t count.) So this bed is meant to be a tribute to Mother Nature’s children. It may sound silly but it means a lot to me.
I’m happy to say that I have reached my goal with this bed. The joinery basically consists of four loose-wedged (or tusk – as you wish) M&T joints. (photo 1) But to do so it needs to carefully plan the dimensions around these joints otherwise wood movement will make you wake up on the floor one day…
While the frame is rock solid I designed the slats and the middle beam bendy enough to add some flexibility to the memory foam mattress. (photo 6) It makes sleeping even more comfortable.
The footboard and the lower headboard sit on straight shoulders under the mortise of the legs – other edges are about 1/8” from each other allowing the wood to move freely in any direction. (photo 2) [Swelling is unlikely but better safe than sorry.] The mortise is 1/16” bigger than the tenon.
Preparing the wood was actually the most time consuming part of the build. Since I buy my lumber rough sawn I have to joint and thickness it myself. Now this bed has 5 seven-feet-long thick and heavy boards so their preparation had promised some challenge… Not their width but their lengths made me think about using a planing sled. I threw together the sled and I was pleased how precisely it worked. But it was too slow so after having surfaced one side, I put the first board (the least seen lower headboard) in the planer. Nothing even faster because removing only 0.01” there was quite some tear-out. So back to the mighty dusty planer sled technique. I don’t mind wearing dust mask for hours after all… but only if I can whistle classical music in it (mostly Saint-Saens and Dvořak).
Well, router surfacing is actually the shorter task in the preparation process. The sanding proved to be the tedious one but it was my fault. I was the one who chose to sand it to P1200 grit… First 40, 80 belt (doing kinda edge-shaping as well), 80, 120, 240, 400, 1200 ROS. It’ll sure be bug free – they slip off it… LOL That means I haven’t used any stinkin’ poly or any synthetic finishing stuff. Not even raw tung oil which I do have in my shop but I plan to use it for making water resistant surfaces like a counter- or tabletop.
Almost forgot to mention the headboard… Geez, that was hard. I had planned to use dovetailed M&T with some straight shoulder. (photo 3) It hadn’t seemed too difficult but when I realized the length (or I should say shortness) of the router bit I wanted to use I was deeply puzzled. After half an hour of head scratching (with some help of zen meditation music) I came up with the idea of offset routing the tenon with a straight bit from the waste side in a bit less than half of the thickness, then I could use the wood itself as a pretty precise template for the 17mm bushing with ¾” 7° DT bit to dovetail the lower sides of the tenon, then I just planed off the waste side of the tenon and the shoulder. The joint turned out so tight that I could only force the tenon into the slot on the headboard so I sanded a bit the dovetailed sides.
Oh yes, the dimensions:
It’s made for a 71”x79” (180×200cm) mattress. The height of the upper live edge around the mattress: ca. 16” (40cm) – the surface of the mattress is four or five inches above it. The middle beam is cherry (2”x3”). The slats are ash (3/4”x2”). Thickness of the locust boards: 30.0mm (~19/16”). Tenon size: 30×90mm. Angle of the wedge: 7.5°

Thanks for reading along,

-- What are those few hours of mine compared to those decades Mother Nature has put in it!

25 comments so far

View Tom Goodman's profile

Tom Goodman

198 posts in 5469 days

#1 posted 10-15-2012 08:17 PM

This is really nice.

-- - " If you want square work, You don't cut corners. " - -- Tom Goodman, Santa Maria, CA. [email protected]

View KnotCurser's profile


2040 posts in 4405 days

#2 posted 10-15-2012 08:57 PM

Wow – that frame looks incredible.

You have a real talent for design as well as the ability to create one fantastic piece of art!

Great work!


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: [email protected] /

View Mcnervy's profile


108 posts in 4441 days

#3 posted 10-16-2012 12:32 AM

THis is an incredible project
The design and design of joinery is unique and wonderful.
Thanks for the slide show to music, really cool and well done.
I am a fan
Wonderful job

-- Bennett; If it can't be fixed with a hammer its an electical problem

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30662 posts in 3675 days

#4 posted 10-16-2012 01:03 AM

Beautiful work. Love the wood.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4027 days

#5 posted 10-16-2012 01:17 AM

You did a masterful job on this bed. I can tell it was a “labor of love”. Your perfect joinery and flawless shaping/sanding of that beautiful locust make this an heirloom piece. I understand that it has absolutely no finish?

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Canadian Woodworks's profile

Canadian Woodworks

702 posts in 4407 days

#6 posted 10-16-2012 01:26 AM

Wicked job, I love it!

-- Paul Lemiski, Ontario Canada, Custom Wooden Rocking chairs and tables

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4914 days

#7 posted 10-16-2012 02:15 AM

Great looking bed and a wonderful design.


View JohnnyStrawberry's profile


246 posts in 3655 days

#8 posted 10-16-2012 06:26 AM

Thank you guys for the positive feedback. You’re too kind.
No Andy, no finish on it. We rather enjoy its natural scent. Which was a surprise after a day coming home and feeling like in the shop. :)
Besides I left enough space for seasonal wood movement.
And the bugs? Joking aside, its decay is the most natural part of its life.
Thank you guys again.

-- What are those few hours of mine compared to those decades Mother Nature has put in it!

View Ren's profile


22 posts in 3519 days

#9 posted 10-16-2012 07:05 AM

I <3 the design, the live edge, the touch, the smell and the sleeping in it.

View JohnnyStrawberry's profile


246 posts in 3655 days

#10 posted 10-16-2012 08:24 AM

Thank you honey. :) And special thanks for your patience allowing me to work on it till the small hours for weeks. I know it was hard for you as well.

-- What are those few hours of mine compared to those decades Mother Nature has put in it!

View Ben Simms's profile

Ben Simms

191 posts in 3628 days

#11 posted 10-16-2012 12:19 PM

holey cow! this is great.

-- I played with Legos as a kid and I never had the part I thought I needed, so I learned to improvise. Now I'm an engineer with a woodworking hobby.

View gepatino's profile


217 posts in 3461 days

#12 posted 10-16-2012 12:58 PM

What a great job! Is it really your first piece of furniture? You are awesome…

I’m also planning to make the furniture for my future home, which hopefully we’ll start building next year, and definetely I’ll take this one as inspiration. Please, keep posting your beautiful work!


View JohnnyStrawberry's profile


246 posts in 3655 days

#13 posted 10-16-2012 03:10 PM

Thanks again guys.
Yes Gabriel, it is my very first home furniture. I’m so glad to be an inspiration because I also took quite some from fellow LJs with their jigs and techniques. I love this site. It is an important part of my woodworking journey. I said to my darling yesterday when I posted this bed that the bed project had been completed at that very moment.
I cross my fingers for your future home. If you need any help feel free to ask. Since it is my first and I didn’t wanna screw up that beautiful wood, I made a pretty detailed project description with tons of details about the construction process. Should I post that as well?

-- What are those few hours of mine compared to those decades Mother Nature has put in it!

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 4220 days

#14 posted 10-16-2012 04:36 PM

This is an incredible project. I love the joinery you used. Well done!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View pintodeluxe's profile


6519 posts in 4150 days

#15 posted 10-16-2012 05:08 PM

Great project! I really like the curved and keyed joinery. The extra time and care you put into this project really shines through.
Unique and beautiful in every way!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

showing 1 through 15 of 25 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics