Building the Bed Part 1: The Posts

Now that we know our dimensions, have our lumber, and have practiced our skills some with our tools, it’s time to start on the bed posts. Because we have 8/4 lumber (which is 1.75″ thick) we will need to laminate, or glue, two boards together to get the desired 3.5″ square posts.

To start, we want to take our four boards of 8/4 lumber and cut each board into two sections: a 62″ section, and a 38″ section. Because we purchased 10′ boards, we should have plenty of wood. Why the extra 2 inches on each board though? The process of gluing these boards isn’t terribly reliable in terms of precision on the ends. We will likely end up with one board slightly overhanging the other. What we will do is come back to our miter saw square up the ends after everything is glued together.

Once you have these sections done, you’ll need to run them through your table saw along the length to rip them to 3.75″ width. The extra quarter inch is so we can saw off an eigth inch from each side after the glue up for a nice, clean post. Though I would have preferred to rip everything down first, and then cut to length, the lumber was far too heavy and unwieldy to handle in 10′ sections on my table saw; I found it to be much safer and easier with the pieces cut to length first.

You should end up with 8 pieces total, paired together to make 2 headboard posts and 2 footboard posts.

Next comes the glue-up. Even though the lumber yard sells this as “surfaced” lumber, we want to make sure the faces of these boards are as flat as possible to ensure the best glue joint. This is where your hand plane comes in. Here’s an excellent tutorial video on how to use your plane to flatten stock. He does the edge of the board in this video, but the process is identical for the face. Try to take as little wood off as possible; each board is really 1/16th of an inch thicker than 1.75″, so you can take a 16th off each one before you start eating into the thickness of the finished product.

No light between these boards
Make sure the boards are square to the edge as well. This one has just a bit on the left side out of square

Once the boards are flattened, use a nice quality glue like Titebond II, apply it in a zigzag motion on the board and then use a brush to make sure the entire surface is covered in a thin layer of glue. Don’t overglue, but don’t skimp out either. Line up the edges, then clamp the heck out of it.

Let it sit at least a day before sawing it down. The goal at this point is to get it to a 3.5″ square dimension. Here’s where I ran into a big issue. My table saw would only cut to exactly 3.5″ with the guards on it, and the blade as only that high as well. Since the two faces we joined were actually 1 & 13/16ths, the thickness of the boards was just over 3.5″ in one direction, and 3.75″ in the other. Here’s where you have options:

  • Using your planer, take off as much material, equally, from the face of each post (the sides that don’t have the glue joint on them) until it’s at 3.5″ and will fit through the saw. This would have worked for my saw, but many saws only cut to 3.25″ so that wouldn’t work here.
  • Use a bandsaw with enough clearance to cut through over 3.5″. This is the easiest way to do this, if you have access to the tool.
  • Create a circular saw guide to trim 1/8 inch off each of the sides which has a glue joint. That will make the width of that dimension 3.5″, and will allow you to rotate it and trim the other side down to 3.5″ as well.
  • Take the riving knife, guards off your table saw, run it through once to cut most of the way, flip the board and cut through the remainder on that side. I did this, but I DO NOT recommend it in hindsight. I treat a table saw like it’s always trying to kill me, since it very well can, and removing all these guards is asking for trouble. I would not do it this way again.

Lastly, cut the headboard posts to 60″ and the footboard posts to 36″.

Next post, we will talk about laying out and cutting the mortises that will accept the cross beams that connect the posts.

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