(click on any image for larger view)
Usually when designing a piece of furniture, some accommodation is made to manufacturing processes, tooling, and efficiency. Such accommodation is done for streamlining construction and profitability. Being the impractical craftsman that I am, I took the opposite approach with this sleigh bed. All processes were made to serve the design, resulting in one of the most challenging pieces I have made.
I won’t begin to go through all the stages and techniques I went through to create this piece. Building it was exhausting enough. I have, however, included some of the photos I took while making the posts.
Since each post had to be band sawn out on three sides, I made full size patterns for the front and side views of both the headboard and footboard posts.
Next, I rough shaped the wide side of each post on the band saw.
I sculpted and smoothed each post with hand tools and random orbit sanders.
I routed a 1/16″ wide groove for sting inlay in each post. Because the surface was undulating and not flat, routing and installing the inlay was a challenge and required extreme care to achieve without making any mistakes.
Installing the inlay around the gooseneck shape at the top of each post, required that I soak the inlay material in boiling water for a couple of hours to make it flexible enough to conform to the circle. The inlay is wenge wood which is very brittle.
After installing the inlay , I sawed the front and back sides of each post to final shape and clean them up with hand tools.
These are the bracket feet I designed and made to sit under each post.
As difficult as the posts were to make, they were nothing compared to creating the S-curved veneered panels in the head and footboards and then surrounding these panels with beaded moldings and solid wood frames. I will save you the agony, dear reader, and just let you enjoy the photos.
The side rails are frame & panel construction and rigidly install to the head and footboards with cast iron hard hardware available from Van Dykes Restorers.
This is a queen size bed and it took me about 10 weeks to complete. It turned out pretty close to perfect. I don’t think I would do another one for less than $18,000 just in case anyone wants to know.
To see more of my work, please visit my website.