Easy Shop Chair from Construction Materials

After my son and I made his miniature Nicholson Bench, I had a fair amount of 2×12 and other 2x material left over.  You could make this chair from a single 10 foot long 2×12.  I wanted to keep the build simple by using only 3 power tools (as mentioned on The Dusty Life podcast) so I kept the joinery simple and used only the circular saw, cordless drill/driver, and a 6″ random orbital sander.  However, those were not the ONLY tools I used.  I have a tendency to over complicate things such as the joinery between the seat and the legs.  I could have just used a ledger with screws to hold the seat in place but I wanted to make a dado as you will see in the video.  The goal for this chair was to learn angles and how to make a comfortable chair from a combination of geometry and sizing.

If you choose to make this chair I would change one thing: cut a radius the front of the arms for your hands to rest and/or make the top of arms slope down from back to front to allow your arms to rest naturally.  For me this chair was to serve a single purpose in my shop and that was to replace the old and very uncomfortable stool I sat on while recording The Dusty Life podcast.

Here are a few shots of the model I followed.  For the seat, I set it sloped at about 8 degrees and put 1-1/2″ taper on the sides from front to back so the rear legs sat closer together and the chair was not as boxy.  The back edge of the chair had a 3 degree bevel cut to allow the chair back to register at that angle to the seat during assembly.  The side edges of the chair back had bevel cuts to match the seat taper so the arms matched the sides of the chair back as well.  You can use all the parts from the chair to register your cuts accordingly.  There really was no measuring once I cut the seat to shape.  Everything was measured from that component.

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Overall size
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The important dimensions
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The back details
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A view from the front
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A view from the top

Veneering the Easy Way

This is an easy way to veneer a surface without the expensive equipment typically used for such tasks.  While I wouldn’t recommend this as a way to veneer a large surface or surfaces with curves, it is a fast way to cover a small surface with a very decorative veneer.

The first step is to have a thin veneer chosen for your project.  I purchase my veneer from veneersupplies.com as they have a wide selection of quality veneer, supplies (it’s in their name), and a lot of information on veneering.  The veneer is very thin measuring around 1/42″ thick.  This is key to this process.  Thicker shop sawn veneer will probably not work in this instance because of the thicker material.

With the veneer chosen it is time to pick a substrate.  I like to use a stable plywood such as apple ply (made in the U.S. of A.) or baltic birch.  Some people prefer MDF and even particle board as they are typically much more stable and free of voids.  The project you have in mind to make and the final destination should be the key factors in choosing your substrate.  If you are in a humid environment I would suggest plywood over MDF.

With your substrate and veneer chosen it is time to begin.  Cut your veneer and substrate slightly oversized (with the veneer larger than the substrate) to allow for final trimming to dimension.

Now spray the show face of the veneer with water to add some moisture.  Not too much, just enough to cover the surface.  You will notice how the veneer starts to curl.  This is normal so don’t be worried.  Then flip it over and roll on some wood glue.  I used TiteBond 1 wood glue but TiteBond 2 would work as well.  Keep in mind that TiteBond 2 and 3 wood glues dry darker than TiteBond 1.  Then roll the glue to a thin even layer on the surface of the veneer.  The glue will add moisture to this face of the veneer and level it out.  That is why you sprayed the show face with water first, to balance it out.

Now set the veneer aside and roll glue onto the surface of the substrate in the same manner.  Once that is finished set it aside and let both surfaces dry until they are no longer sticky from wet glue.  Don’t freak out, you haven’t ruined your material.

Once the glue is dry, place the two glue surfaces together and arrange the veneer so it overhangs the substrate on all sides.  With an iron on the medium heat setting place it in the middle of the veneer and work it out to the edges and toward one end at a time.  Keep the iron moving as not to burn the veneer.  If you didn’t let the glue dry long enough you may see some steam and that can cause the veneer to ripple.  If that happens, just take a sanding block with a hard flat surface and rub the veneer down to the surface.  The glue will be reactivated and it will bond again.  It doesn’t hurt to rub the surface with the sanding block after ironing while it is still warm anyhow.

Now repeat that process to the other side of the substrate to balance it out.  If you don’t the substrate will warp as you are stacking veneer in favor of one face.  When you are finished you should have two nice looking faces of your substrate ready for your next project.

Tools I used in this project (Affiliate Links):
Ink Brayer (glue roller) – http://amzn.to/2ejHUsQ
Iron – http://amzn.to/2fYvuXV
TiteBond Wood Glue – http://amzn.to/2eBEih3
TiteBond II Wood Glue – http://amzn.to/2fCiK4W
Sanding Block: http://amzn.to/2eBNq5b


Chinese Inspired Bed with Cherry Blossom Inlay

Upon returning from China after the completion of my daughter’s adoption, I decided to set out to make her a bedroom set.  I was ambitions with my design and chose to integrate cherry blossoms into her furniture pieces.  I started with her bed.  I took inspiration from other furniture we saw on the trip and continued designing until I found a style my wife and I liked.

This video below is a brief over view of the process.

This video is a little longer and shows more of the build in greater detail.  I chose not to narrate my work in this video as, chances are, very few if any people are going to want to make this same bed.

Due to popular demand I will quickly talk about the main construction of the bed starting with the foot board (head board is the same) and then the rails.

In the longer version of the bed build you will see that it starts with the lamination of the feet.  I started with an oversized laminated blank for each foot.  When the glue had cured I then milled the feet to the final thickness, width, and length then set them aside.

The next step was to create the cross pieces that would connect the feet for the foot and head boards.  These could be done in two different ways: 1) you could edge glue the top and bottom pieces from the three different thicknesses of strips to form the stepped profile or 2) mill the bottom piece to max thickness (about 5/8″) and cut a rabbet on each side about half way up to make a 3/8″ stepped double sided moulding (for lack of a better term).  I liked option 2 best as it would allow for grain continuity and the thinner piece would be centered easily.

With the lower rail shaped it was time to use the 5/8″ thickness to dictate the top rail.  I then milled a piece of material to 7/8″ thickness and repeated the double sided rabbet to form a lower step of 5/8″ to match the lower rail.  This is imperative that the thickness match as there is a middle stile that connects the upper and lower rail.  Which I will address in a moment.

Be sure to sand now because if you sand after you cut the mortises the rails will be loose.  Now that both the upper and lower rails are profiled it is time to cut them to length.  This is entirely dependent on the size of your mattress and the thickness of the feet (to account for the protrusion of the rail on the outer side of each foot).  All you need to know know though is that you need to keep an off cut from each rail to trace the shape onto the sides of each corresponding foot.  I started with the lower rail, tracing the outline of the rail with a marking knife, then drilling halfway through on opposite sides at the drill press to remove the bulk.  If you were to make these in a production shop I would make a template that could be clamped to the foot and then rout the material followed by some chiseling.  Or just use a hollow chisel mortiser.  If you go the drill press rout as I did, then you will have a fair amount of chiseling to do.  Just be careful to keep your chisels perpendicular to the faces of the feet.  When the lower through mortises are finished repeat the process for the top rails only this material can be removed at the band saw as seen in the video.

Now it is time to mill the middle stile to 5/8″ thick and how ever wide and long you want it to be.  I chose to use a version of a birdsmouth joint as seen in a lot of chinese furniture but a simple butt joint with a biscuit, dowel, or domino to reinforce it would be perfectly fine as well.  Mark the center of each rail and the stile make your joinery but don’t attach yet.

Now do a test fit of all the pieces, the feet, rails, and stile to see if everything comes together as desired.  The width needed to accommodate your bed should be addressed now.  Keep in mind the hardware placement in the feet and how far that is from the inside corners of the feet and the length of the rails between the feet.  A standard twin size mattress is around 35-1/2″ inches wide and the feet I made were 3″ square with 5/8″ wide hardware on center.  So 35.5 (overall inner width) – (2)1.1875 (the distance from the inner edge of the foot to the edge of the hardware*) = 33.125 or 33-1/8″  that was the distance between the two feet for a twin size mattress (don’t hold me to that, measure for your own application).

If everything fits well, glue it up.  Start by gluing the bottom rail through the feet checking for the proper width between the feet as you progress.  Now the middle stile needs to be glued in place if you are using dowels, biscuits, mortise and tenons, or domino joinery.  Just glue the bottom of the stile into place though.  Now place the top rail between the feet and glue the middle stile at the same time.  Clamp the middle stile and wait for the whole thing to dry.

Once dry, clean the tops of the feet and rail up with a block plane and prepare that surface for the cap rail.  I milled that piece to about 3-1/4″ wide but in hind sight I should have made it 3-1/8″ with the 1/8″ overhang on the outside of the foot board and not equally on the outside and inside.  That overhang made the rail assembly difficult without shaping the top corners of the rails which allowed them to drop into place, which I though of at the time but wanted it to work.  Goes to show you can’t beat physics.  The length of the cap rail is also dependent on the length of the foot board and the protrusion of the rails BUT I would suggest to keep the extension past the feet minimal.  Otherwise you will have sore shins, don’t ask me how I know this.

Glue that cap rail in place after some shaping and sanding and you are set to move onto the rails.  Again, a process that is entirely dependent on your design.  So here is a video on how to install that hardware.

Now you are armed with enough information on how I made the foot and head boards.  Watch the video (Ep. 52) to see how I assembled everything and feel free to ask questions either in the comments of this article, the video, or email me at sean@seanrubino.com.

*Note:  There has to be some material on the sides of the hardware at the ends of the rails.  This material allows for a space between the mattress and the rail so that making the bed is a little easier.  Though it is entirely dependent on the thickness of your rails.  See, lots of variables, plan accordingly.

My Polyurethane Varnish Technique

The video below is a guide to follow for any satin oil polyurethane varnish application so I will simply list the items you will need to do what you will see in the video tutorial.  All items are affiliate links.

Oil Finish:

Danish Oil, Tung Oil, Boiled Linseed Oil, or Teak Oil (for outdoor applications)

Gloss Oil Polyurethane (Minwax)

Satin Oil Polyurethane (General Finishes Arm-R-Seal)


Paint Filters


Cotton Applicators


Mineral Oil

Mineral Spirits

Sand Paper/Pads: 320, 400, 600, 1200, 3000, 5000

Modern Bed

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I made a bed to a clients specifications about a month ago.  They wanted a simple design, inexpensive materials, and 18 inches of floor clearance for storage underneath.

I made this bed nearly entirely from big box store construction lumber with the exception of the head board.  That is made from vertical grain douglas fir from the lumber yard.  Instead of staining the bed and dealing with blotchiness, I burned the surfaces with a torch, rubbed in beeswax, and buffed it out with a Scotch Brite pad.  The result was a very smooth surface that is easy to repair.  Just use a hair drier or a heat gun to reactivate the wax or add a bit more and buff it out.

A list of the materials I used to finish can be found here:


Scotch Brite Pads


Chinese Cherry Blossom Inlay


This is a brief tutorial on how to use a router to make an inlay in virtually any piece of furniture.

It isn’t a comprehensive lesson but there is enough information to get you started and make your creative side shine through.

Here are links to the tools/supplies I used.

Bosch PR20EVSPK 5.6-Amp Colt Palm Grip 1-Horsepower Fixed and Plunge Base Variable-Speed Router Combo Kit

Bosch 85091 High Speed Steel Single Flute Straight Bit, 1/16-Inch

1/32″ Straight Bit with 1/8″ Shaft


Knew Concepts 5″ Woodworker Fret Saw

Shurtape DF-545 Double Coated Cloth Carpet Tape: 2 in. x 75 ft. (Natural)

Crown Tools UK Scraper Burnisher & 3 Piece Clifton Cabinet Scraper Set

SE 813PK 16-Piece Hobby Knife Set with Aluminum Collet Chucks

IMUSA USA GAU-80305 1100W Electric Single Burner, Black


2 Beds 1 Shop…And the Clock is Ticking

My wife is due to deliver our 3rd child any day now and we are one bed short for our current family of 5.  The goal was to have my daughter’s bed completed last month so when the new born comes home my daughter could have her own bed.  Now the clock is ticking and it’s the final countdown.

Months ago I found this photo on Google Images.  My wife and I wanted to keep the furniture in Sabrina Xin’s bedroom to have a Chinese theme to keep up with her heritage so I am using this as inspiration for the design.

Chinese bed

I drew up a sketch with a few details and made a few rough dimensions to get started.  This is not a complete project sketch.


Smash cut back several months: my mother called me and commissioned a bed to be made for my brother.  He has been sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor for 4 years and now he needs an actual bed.  I contacted him to get an idea of what he would like in bed design and he just wanted a simple bed made from construction lumber with an 18″ clearance under the rails for storage.  With those parameters I began designing and I came up with this simple “modern” style.  Again, this is not a complete project design.


Now as I build one bed I might as well build two.  Just as with my Tatami Platform Bed build, these beds start with the feet, then the foot and head rails, the side rails, and finally the headboard.

I glued up the foot blanks of African Mahogany for the Chinese inspired bed (Elm was my first choice but it is impossible to get in CA) and while that was curing I filled the knots in the foot blanks for my brother’s bed with colored epoxy.  Once the glue was set on the Chinese bed I began milling the feet to final dimension.  Then I laid out for the bed rail hardware.  A note about that: I am using the 4″ x 5/8″ heavy duty wrought steel bed rail hardware from Rockler for both of these beds.  The hardware is easy to install and makes for easy bed assembly/dis-assembly.

To keep everything organized and moving at the same pace I milled the rails and all the parts for both beds at the same time one bed at a time so the machines (planer/table saw) didn’t have to be switched constantly to accommodate different widths and thicknesses.

This is where the projects currently sit.  I am working on these bed a little each night and hopefully I will be finished shortly after my wife delivers.


Welded Bookshelves with Reclaimed Wood Shelves and Drawers

This pair of shelves was commissioned by a client of mine as a gift for his wife. I was given a photo and that’s all I had to work off. So the first thing I did was open SketchUp and began designing.
I wanted to keep the material cost low so I started sourcing used bed frames and reclaimed lumber. The bed frames took a lot of preparation to remove legs, rivets, and caps, not to mention grinding off paint to prepare for welding. Once I needed more bed frames I calculated the cost of frames vs the cost of same size angle iron and the angle iron was a little cheaper not to mention more robust.
The wood was collected locally at an abandoned fallen building that has been around for at least 12 years or more. Nails were plentiful and the surfaces needed a good scrubbing.
When all the metal parts were cut to size it was time to weld the frames. I started with the shelves’ top and bottom frames to get the sizes equal. Then I welded the side assemblies to connect to the top and bottom frames. The whole shelf unit was strengthened and squared with rear cross straps. When all the construction was complete I welded on bolt heads as industrial accents and sprayed a patina solution of acid, copper, and water. This gave the steel a nice initial color before the natural weathering took place.
The bottom units were made in the same fashion less the cross straps.
When all the metal work was finished I began the work on the shelves and drawers. I started with the 12 shelves for the upper cabinets and the 6 shelves for the lowers unit. I milled the reclaimed boards into strips to edge band the maple plywood to add decoration and strength from sagging, though sagging may still happen (can’t fight gravity).
Once all the shelves were complete, I applied a home made stain, called Iron Acetate. It consists of apple cider vinegar and fine steel wool. The vinegar dissolves the steel wool giving the solution an old grey look. When applied to a wood surface it begins to activate with the natural tannin in the wood and the stained surface darkens over time. Since maple doesn’t have much tannin I had to introduce tannin to the wood. I did that by making strong black tea and wiping it onto the surface. Once dry, the Iron Acetate was brushed on, allowed to dry, sanded with 220 grit, and a water borne finish was sprayed on.
The 8 drawers were made using pinned rabbet joints and the drawer fronts were fit to the openings then attached to the drawer boxes. These were then spray finished in the same manner as the shelves.
Then the whole assembly was put together to see how it looked.

Here is a 3 video Playlist showing the process of the build in slightly greater detail.

DIY Tatami Style Platform Bed with Downloadable Plans


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For the past several months my wife and I have been trying to decide on a good bed design for our eldest son, Vinny.  I could have made a racecar or a boat but who knows how long my son would like that sort of bed so I was looking for something a little more “timeless.”  Insomnia, or just plain eagerness, yielded a few late nights of searching the ether for ideas.  I happened across a site called tatamiroom.com and found the style of platform bed I wanted to build (here is the link to the page I used as a guide, and I have plans available here <—Click for a downloadable PDF plan).  Unfortunately, searches on woodworking forums and YouTube for plans or detailed builds were fruitless, thus my journey began with the simple photo from tatamiroom.com.  I knew there was going to be no bed hardware for this build so all the joints needed to be interlocking.  This meant all dimensions were to be taken individually to fit each part.  No big deal, just a little more time investment in getting the joints just right.

I needed some starting guidance so I surfed over to thewoodwhispererguild.com and reviewed Marc’s Dogon Platform Bed video series to see where he started with his project.  The footboard was the genesis and then the headboard, followed by the rails.  This was the extent of my “plans” for this build.  Everything else came from the dimensions of the mattress and how high off the floor I wanted the bed to be.

The Wood

I had several board feet of alder in thicknesses from 5/4 to 8/4 and widths up to 11″ on my rack so naturally this was my wood of choice, since it is what I had on hand.

The alder getting sorted.
The alder being sorted.

I laid out all my foot, headboard, and rail parts taking care to avoid all knots and defects as possible.  Then I used a jig saw to rough cut the foot parts to prepare for milling.  I started by cutting to rough width at the band saw, then jointed one face, planed the opposite face to final thickness (true flatness was not necessary for all parts), jointed one edge, and finally ripped to a final width of 1-5/8″.  I then set up a stop block on my crosscut sled for a repeatable cut for a final length of 8″ for twelve of the 1-5/8″ square pieces and 5-1/4″ for the other four 1-5/8″ square pieces.  These sixteen pieces make up the bulk of the feet.  Then I milled a piece of alder to 1-5/8″ wide, 7/8″ thick, and then cut eight 4″ long pieces at the table saw using the stop block and crosscut sled.  Lastly, I need four pieces that were 7/8″ thick, 4-1/8″ wide and 4-3/4″ long for the piece to hold the feet together.

Foot parts roughed out for picking out most pleasing grain.
All the foot parts milled.

Below is a view of how the feet go together.  I glued up the feet in two stages.  First, the grain was matched for the most pleasing view of the faces and the end grain.  Notice how the growth rings almost look like the foot is made from a solid piece of wood.  Next, thick square pieces were glued to the small “spacer” blocks ensuring that the “inside” faces were flat.  When the glue was dry I lightly sanded the inside faces to clean any squeeze out and then the two pieces were joined with the wider “spacer” block.  The wider spacer has a 3/4″ square by 3/4″ tall “key” in the middle.  This was made to lock the foot and side rails into the feet so they would not pull away when setting the bed up.  I could have made the height of that key much shorter in retrospect.

Looking into the foot.
A look at the foot construction.
The rough foot blanks arranged.
The feet all glued up.

Cutting the Rail Joints

When measuring the width and length of the bed rails, I made a mattress template out of 1/8″ hardboard.  Then I added some room, about 5/8″ on either side and end, for ease of making the bed and added the required length to accommodate the size of the feet.  Then I measured in 1-3/16″ from each end, to allow for final trimming, and made my joinery cuts at the table saw (see the photo below).  This was done for each joint individually.  Also, note that each rail end was milled to be a tight fit in it’s foot position and then block planed to about 1/32″ thinner.  This allows for easy test assembly but allows for finish build up to make it a nice slip fit when completed.

The foot, foot rail, and side rail joints.
The foot and side rail joints.

Notice how the top of the rail is proud of the foot and is bottomed out.

Foot rail is in place.
The foot rail in place.

Here is a view of the feet and rails all set up.  Also, the headboard stiles are in place.

The rails are all fit into the feet.
All rail joints are cut and fit to the feet.

Here you see the stile of the headboard inserted over the side rail and into the foot.

How the headboard stile fits into the foot and side rail.
The headboard stile locking in the side rail.

The Raised Panel

The next order of business was to build the headboard.  My original plan was to make a solid alder panel with some square hole details (similar to what is seen on tatamiroom.com).  I then realized I had an unused piece of bubinga that had been sitting in my shop for 2 years.  I measured and it turned out to be long enough and have a good width for a nice raised panel.

Headboard material laid out.
Headboard parts laid out.

Next I had to decide on a profile.  I purchased a raised panel bit from MLCS Woodworking only to find I was not satisfied with the particular outcome of the test board.  I placed the bit in my bit cabinet and moved on to practicing making a raised panel on the table saw.

MLCS Raised Panel Bit #8685 on left and table saw profiles on right.
MLCS Raised Panel Bit #8685 on left and table saw profiles on right.

I set the blade height to 3/8″ and put on my auxiliary fence (plan from Fine Woodworking Magazine issue #231 by Bob Van Dyke) and set the feather board to the distance for thickness of the bubinga panel.  Keeping in mind that the new fence throws off the measurement tape on the fence rail, I used a steel rule to set the fence 1/4″ to the right of the blade.  Then the first kerf cut was made all around the board referencing the back of the panel on the fence.

Tall fence and featherboard used to make the raised panel.
Tall fence and featherboard used to make the raised panel.

After the relief kerf was cut I then removed the auxiliary fence and feather board, set the blade angle to 45 degrees and positioned the fence and blade height such that the bevel would be cut and not engage the 1/4″ tongue that was made in the previous step.  This was done on each side several times adjusting the fence as needed to remove material.

The panel is dry fit after all the grooves have been cut and the panel was sanded to 320 grit.
The panel is dry fit after all the grooves have been cut and the panel was sanded to 320 grit.

Now the headboard was glued up and ready for some detail work.  After some thought, I realize I should have pre-finished the bubinga with the oil I used on the rest of the bed just in case contraction and expansion revealed a bare streak on the edges.

The headboard all glued up and the panel sanded to 320 grit.
The headboard all glued up and the panel sanded to 320 grit.

Now that the entire perimeter of the bed was made, the mattress supports could be attached.  I set the rails and headboard in position, measured, and cut the mattress supports.  They referenced off the short posts of each foot and were 3/4″ thick and 1″ wide.  Glue and screws attached the supports and tapered face grain plugs (using this from leevalley.com) were cut to cover up the screws.

The mattress supports glued and screwed to the inside of the rails and plugged with tapered face grain plugs of the same species.
The mattress supports glued and screwed to the inside of the rails and plugged with tapered face grain plugs of the same species.

I was toying with the idea of adding a curve to the headboard rail and stiles but I had a thought.  If I were to cut a long subtle curve in the parts, then the whole thing may look odd because of the rectangular raised panel.  The curves and straight lines would conflict.  So I decided to employ a trick I learned from my buddy Marc Spagnuolo, The Wood Whisperer.  That was to use light to bend the wood.  I started by marking out where the curve would have been and then using a spokeshave I cut a long tapering bevel such that the widest point was in the middle of the rail and stiles.  I was thoroughly pleased with the result.  Incidentally, the Hock Spokeshave was a prize from the “Shop Stool Build-Off” in an earlier post.

Hock Low Angle Spokeshave shaping the rail and stiles of the headboard.
Hock Low Angle Spokeshave shaping the rail and stiles of the headboard.

The Details (15 hours of work)

Once the foot and side rails were ready for the trim piece to be glued on I needed to add the curve on the bottom.  I made a template that had just a slight peaking at 3/8″ to 1/2″ on the foot and side rails, respectively.  I removed the waste at the band saw close to the line and template routed flush to the line.  I then clamped the piece to the table and gave it the same treatment as the headboard rail and stiles.

Shaping the bottom of the rail.

Now it was time to work on the trim pieces to tie the feet into the rails.  I milled four pieces to 7//8″ thick and 1-5/8″ wide then measured each length individually relative to its location.  Glue and clamps attached these pieces to the rails.  When the glue was dry, I scrapped it clean and planed it all flush with my Bailey 606 foreplane.

Flushing the trim on the foot and side rails.
Flushing the trim on the foot and side rails.

The last thing I added to the bed were two pieces of alder that would keep the headboard from leaning back and possibly splitting either the feet or the headboard itself.  They rest against the wall and act like stops.  These were cut about 2-1/8″ wide and tapered to the same width as the trim pieces at the bottom and glued and screwed to the back of the headboard stiles.  They were attached in the same fashion as the mattress supports then sanded by hand to 220 grit.

Headboard back support and trim.

To blend all the lines together I chamfered all the edges that met at the feet.  This was done with file and block plane.

All the chamfers at the feet and rails.
All the chamfers at the feet and rails.

I also made a taper on all 4 sides of each foot set 1/2″ in from the bottom to give a little more clearance when walking around the bed.  This was done at the band saw and cleaned up with a block plane.  The ends of the rails were not sanded but were planed with a newly sharpened block plane.  I found this to be the easiest way to smooth out all the end grain on this project including the tops of the feet.

The foot detail.
The foot detail.

One thing I did not capture an image of was the mattress cross supports and the cross support spacers that were glued into place on the side rails, however, they may be visible in the photos during assembly.  The cross supports were made from poplar and milled to 5/8″ thick and cut to length.  All edges were chamfered at the router table and got one coat of spray lacquer and sanded lightly with 220 grit.

The Finish

I fully intended to just do a spray lacquer finish on the bed but after doing a few test pieces I decided to first apply Cherry Danish Oil first (paying close attention to the headboard panel to get into the grooves), then Tung Oil, followed by a week of curing, and finally the lacquer was sprayed on.  I used Sherwin Williams Hi-Build Semi Gloss Lacquer and the initial coat was full strength, followed by a light sanding with 320 grit and vacuumed the dust off.  This was done twice.  The final coat was mostly lacquer thinner with a little bit of lacquer, about 80/20 thinner to lacquer.  This last coat smoothed out the finish nicely.

The Assembly

This is straight forward so I will just caption the montage of photos.

Vinny and I sorting the cross supports.
Vinny and I sorting the cross supports.
Looking for #1, Sabrina Xin is helping now.
Looking for #1, Sabrina Xin is helping now.
Now the whole gang is here when Gianni joins the fun.
Now the whole gang is here when Gianni joins the fun.
First the feet.
First the feet.
Gianni feeling the felt.
Gianni feeling the felt.
Gianni and Sabrina Xin confirming the smooth finish.
Gianni and Sabrina Xin confirming the smooth finish.
Vinny helping with the first side rail.
Vinny helping with the first side rail.
Putting in the second rail.
Putting in the second rail.  Notice the cross support spacers.
Dropping in the headboard.
Dropping in the headboard.
Placing the first cross support.
Placing the first cross support.
The help.
The help.
Getting there.
Getting there.
All together!
All together!
Oooo-ing and ahhhh-ing.
Oooo-ing and ahhhh-ing.
Finished and made.
Finished and made.

Foot Detail

Headboard Detail

This was quite the build for me taking most of the summer in 110 degree heat with an even hotter shop.  I don’t know who is more excited about the build though, myself or my son.

I hope you found this to br an interesting and inspiring post.  Thanks for watching.

Tatami Style Bunk Bed coming mid 2017.


David Marks Inspired Stool

Day 7.6

This last week I participated in a community build started by Chris Wong of Flair Woodworks called the “Shop Stool Build-Off.”  It was a lot of fun and took a lot of time, on my part.  Since I spend so much time going over the process of making anything, it took me several days of reviewing plans and watching the video I purchased for my build (Wood Works Ep. 112), courtesy of David J. Marks, before I even put blade to MDF (for the Wood Works fan you will understand that).  I took me 7 days of work, some of which were 10-14 hours.  It could be done much faster if the builder is more experienced and confident with their approach.

Day 1

Lets start here.  It seems fair and natural for all woodworkers.  I got the plans in the mail and I began looking through the cut list and the diagrams and quickly realized I would need the video to help.  After watching the video, I rewatched it.  David just made the whole build so simple and straight forward.  There was no way I could mess this build up, I was confident in that.  So I rummaged through all my small scraps of 1/4″ MDF or any template material I could find to start making my templates.   I then shaped my stretcher template to the planned length.  Then I cut a strip for the stretcher placement in relation to the under side of the seat.  Lastly, I shaped the 16″ sq. seat template.  This is when I realized how big this stool was going to be.  But I guess my butt will only get bigger over the years.

Here are the templates and the rough stock.  Materials are Walnut and Maple.
Here are the templates and the rough stock. Materials are Walnut and Maple.

After I shaped the seat template, I traced it on my assembly table then rotated the template 90 degrees to check for symmetry.  It was only off by about 1/16″ from the original position.  I was pleased so this where I called it quits for the night.

Day 2

The next day I had more time to work (after watching the video plans again a few more times) so I began by cutting the legs to rough dimension.  That process when by rather quickly so I decided to finish the process and cut and plane them to final dimension.

Legs cut to length and planned to near final thickness
Legs cut to length and planned to near final thickness

I then cut the seat blank into three equal parts and jointed the faces and corresponding edges.  I then had just a few moments left in the evening so I pulled the Rockler Taper Jig off the shelf and positioned the stop for the correct taper of the legs.  End day 2.

Day 3

I got started this day early.  My wife (bless her) gave me the afternoon and evening to work so I tried to get as much done as possible to prepare for the weekend assembly of the stool.  I figured that with the glue ups in all the stages it would take 9 hours of waiting for glue to dry (using the suggested polyurethane glue) not including the time to clamp the assemblies, scrape the squeeze out, and smooth the joints.  So I started tapering the legs.  All went well but I must have a dirty blade or I was feeding the stock through too fast because on one side (usually the first cut of the taper) it had significant blade marks.  The other side of the taper a much cleaner face.  So I took the ugly sides to the jointer and cleaned them up there.  Making sure the legs remained square.  After all the legs were clean and tapered I began with the milling of the seat parts.  I had filled knots several months ago with West Systems Epoxy so I had to plane that off the surface.  So I ran the previously jointed face down through the planer and took just enough passes to remove the epoxy from the surface.  Then I marked a center line and cabinet maker’s triangle on the seat and the parts to ensure proper repositioning of the strips I was to cut off from the sides.  As I was ripping the 1-1/16″ strip off the side piece I noticed the work was pinching the splitter so I stopped the saw and finished the cut at the band saw.  In retrospect I should have started there in the first place and then cleaned the edges and trimmed to final width at the table saw.  When all the pieces were ripped to thickness with the appropriate bevel angle, I repositioned them on the table and checked for accuracy.  It was good enough so on to choosing stock for the four stretchers.

All components laid out minus the milled stretchers
All components laid out minus the milled stretchers

I pulled out the center of the board that I got the legs from and used that as my stretcher material.  One piece had a nasty knot in it but, luckily, it was far enough from the final length of the stretchers that it wouldn’t make it into the piece.  End day 3.

Day 4

I started by checking the color of the seat by wetting it with some water.  It looked great but there was some blotching I wondered if I would have to contend with.  After some thought, I decided to let the wood do what it does naturally.

The seat with water to show grain color
The seat with water to show grain color

I then milled the stretchers to final width and thickness after measuring the position on the legs.  I still left the stretchers long at this point.  They are individually glued into place after the legs are laminated into the seat.

All components ready to go less the stretchers shaped
All components ready to go less the stretchers shaped

Then began the first glue up preparation.  I cut scrap pieces of pine at the same angle as the legs to keep the clamp heads square.  I affixed them to the legs with carpet tape and prepared for the glue up of the legs to the middle spacer pieces of the seat (these were cut to the same width of the middle portion of the seat).


The glue up went flawlessly.

First non-stressful glue up...ever.
First non-stressful glue up…ever.

Until, I unclamped the assemblies and realized I clamped them with the wrong faces down.  No I had to clean up a surface to prepare for the next glue up.  See, the surface mating to the outer sides of the seat needed to be flush with the legs so they could be paired immediately.  I was so worried about getting the legs in the proper position that I neglected to think ahead (if I had watched the video again a few more times I may have caught that detail)  Flushing that surface took quite some time and still it was not perfect.  I just hoped glue and clamping pressure would help.  End day 4

Second glue up was a tad more stressful
Second glue up was a tad more stressful

Day 5

After removing the leg assemblies from the clamps and cleaning the squeeze out, I ran the face the mate with the center portion of the seat across the table saw removing about 1/16″.  Note I never changed the bevel angle of the blade after ripping the seat parts.  Doing this gave the surface a nice clean face and a little shoulder on the leg for the seat to rest making it look like it actually was mortised in.

Third glue up...Jet clamps make glue ups easy
Third glue up…Jet clamps make glue ups easy

While the seat was clamped up I decided to shape the stretchers and cut each to length…one at a time on the length part.  As I was routing, the bit came off the end too quickly and took a chunk out of the nice curve.  I initially panicked and then I remembered a trick from watching my friend, Marc Spagnuolo, repair a pencil holder, mirror frame, and table stand from router error.

Router chip out on the stretcher
Cleaned up router chip out on the stretcher

So I flattened the mistake, picked up the scrap piece from the curve that was cut from this piece, cut out a rectangle larger than the mistake (making sure the grain was close enough to match), and CA glued it back on.  Wait after spraying with activator and then shaped back to the template and sanded smooth.

The repair
The repair
 Rinse and repeat until all the stretcher were complete and epoxied on (System Three 5-Minute Epoxy).
All stretcher glued into place
All stretchers glued into place

Because this is a long-grain-to-end-grain joint, I didn’t want there to be any breaking so I kept some of the clamps on to hold pressure as I drilled 1/4″ holes for the aluminum pins.  I used aluminum because I thought it would look better with the Maple than brass.  Also, I used rod that was 1/16″ larger in diameter than the plans called for so I had to make sure I spaced them enough not to interfere with each other.  I marked the placement, used an awl to start a hole for the brad point bit, covered with blue tape, re-established the marks with the awl, and began drilling.  16 holes in all.  Then came time to insert the pins.  The plans called for CA glue but I wanted something more substantial so used more 5-minute epoxy.  I glued one side at a time, waiting for the glue to get thicker before turning it to the next side.  Rinse and repeat 3 more times.

1/4" holes drilled and slightly toed in.
1/4″ holes drilled and slightly toed in.

I removed the tape used a Fein MultiMaster with a metal cutting blade to cut the protrusions shorter (the photo is before cutting).  Then used a Bastard file to reduce them close to the wood.  That SOB shaved them down fast.

Filing the aluminum pins close
Filing the aluminum pins close

Once all pins were about 1/16″ proud of the surface, I began sanding starting with 100 grit paper on my random orbital sander.  I progressed up to 150 grit and then began the 1/8″ round over of the edges.  The edges that the router could not reach were done by hand.  An 1/8″ round over is easy enough to do by hand I should have saved the $30 on the bit and rounded them all by hand.  Then I sanded with 180 grit paper and called it a night at 12am Monday morning.  End day 5.

All pinned and sanded to 150 and edges rounded over
All pinned and sanded to 180 and edges rounded over

Day 6

Monday afternoon I got a start on this right away.  I started with shaping the seat by cutting it out with a jig saw (only after fixing the template on with hot glue).  The set the router table up with a pattern bit and copied the seat to the template.  Note that I marked center lines on the seat and the template to match up before cutting with the jig saw.

Template fit to the top of the seat
Template fit to the top of the seat

I routed to the template in 3 total passes as I didn’t want to get any tear out when going from the end grain to the long grain.  Making small passes when was key here though Walnut machines very well I have noticed.  After flush trimming the seat I the rounded over the top with a 1/2″ radius bit.  The plan calls for a 3/4″ radius but but I didn’t have one and my seat is slightly thinner than David’s so I made it a bit proportional by sanding to get an approximate radius of 5/8″.  Notice the picture below has a rough uneven surface?  The template was the flat surface for the router table so I didn’t worry about smoothing it out.  Also, I was going to be slightly reshaping the profile by hand.

Template flushed and rounded over with a 1/2" radius bit
Template flushed and rounded over with a 1/2″ radius bit

Next came the fun, and very intimidating part.  I had never sculpted wood before.  I do not recommend taking a tool that you are unfamiliar with to a project but I didn’t have time to practice on anything else so I just took it slow.  What a blast that was!  I found that some cutting motions produced a much cleaner surface than others so I tried to maintain a low, flat angle to the surface and using my arms as one with my body.  This helped me keep control of the grinder and aggressive disc.

Carving the under side bevel with a Squire cutting wheel
Carving the under side bevel with a Squire cutting wheel

After approaching the marked boundaries I continued with 60 grit paper on my sander to flatten the sculpting and blend the underside with the bevel.  I couldn’t be happier with the result.  What an experience that was.

Bevel sanded with 60 grit paper
Bevel sanded with 60 grit paper

I didn’t take any shots when scooping the seat because I was having too much fun and it almost cost me the seat.  I did not lift the grinder high enough when moving it away from me and it dug and carved a line right across the middle of the seat.  Lucky for me I still had 1/4″ of material to remove from that area.  So no harm done but my heart did jump when it grabbed and tugged away from me.

Top surface scooped and sanded
Top surface scooped and sanded

Finally a look at the nearly completed shop stool.  I was thrilled to get to this point and then I kept thinking of those stretchers and feet.  Something was amiss.  There needed to be more done to shaping them.  So I went to bed and thought about it.  End day 6.

Final look...until I couldn't sleep over it
Final look…until I couldn’t sleep over it


I had about 5 hours left of work to do before the first coat of finish was to be applied.  I marked out on the stretchers where I wanted the new profile to be and began with a rasp.  The new profile was much better.  I continued with the bottom of the rail and repeated the same thing on the other 3 rails.

New look after rough shaping with a 4-in-1 rasp by hand
New look after rough shaping with a 4-in-1 rasp by hand

The feet needed some treatment too so I made some marks and removed a little material from the two front faces of each leg.  Checking my progress with a square as I went to make sure I was not making a bump or dish in the foot.

Foot before shaping
Foot before shaping

I sanded through to 220 grit paper and here is the new foot.  I considered giving the feet “hooves” by routing out a tenon on each foot and then gluing in strips of Walnut but since I had little time left I kept it simple.  It turned out fantastic.

Foot after shaping
Foot after shaping

Here she is all poised and ready to go her it’s first taste of tung oil.

The new look of the finished stool
The new look of the finished stool

First coat of pure tung oil applied
First coat of pure tung oil applied


The seat
The seat


Full shot
Full shot

Pretty good looking I must say so myself.  Lovely figure in that Maple too.  The aluminum pins stand out nicely as well.

The pins and figure
The pins and figure

I hope you enjoyed this write up.  I had a blast making this stool, participating in the “Shop Stool Build-Off”, and looking at all the other participants’ builds and designs.  It was a long week so I am going to rest now.