201 Tips for Woodworkers, Bell Forest Products, The Tornado Bed, Woodcraft
Comments 3

Tornado Bed: Getting Underway

Each post will be made from four boards glued together.

I wonder what its like to operate a shop where lumber is at the ready. If a project suddenly appears that calls for cherry, it is on hand, ready to go. Curly maple? Got that too. Sheets of nicely veneered plywood? They’re right over there. Maybe I’ll have a shop like that some day.

For me, a new project means going to the home center to sort through the available lumber for acceptable boards. On one occasion I ordered some nice mahogany from Bell Forrest Products. Several times I have purchased quarter sawn oak and curly maple at my local Woodcraft – they have a wide variety of lumber in stock, some of which are exotics, but they don’t have enough of any one species to make anything of significant size.

For the Tornado Bed, I went to Lowes – they have some options that Home Depot doesn’t have. I considered oak and the really poor “Top Choice” pine, but I decided to go with their select grade pine; it is mostly clear of defects, straight and is priced mid-way between oak and the cheap pine.

My point in bringing all this up is that choosing lumber for a project can be time consuming, especially if you don’t have a stash of lumber already at your shop. After designing the Tornado Bed, I completed the second step in the project: selecting and buying the lumber.

On to the construction…
The design of the Tornado Bed has simplicity in mind. The posts at each end of the headboard and footboard are comprised of four boards glued together.

Already a design change: I have added a cap to each post. Otherwise end grain would be noticeable which is to be avoided.

You can get a better view of the post construction from this exploded view.

The simple part of this design is that I can cut the mortises as the post is formed, vs. drilling and chopping out the mortises afterwards.

Here the notches have been cut to receive tenons from the headboard components.

It is time to glue the outer boards in place. I test proper alignment with a scrap board.

I spent a long time deciding how best to glue up the outer boards. Once glue is added, and as the clamps are applied, these boards will likely slide around a bit. I can’t let that happen – even slight movement will mess things up. I was able to cut the boards slightly long prior to glue-up. This gave me just enough space to add a screw to each end; enabling me to keep everything in position while the clamps are applied.

Here, I glue the outer boards in place. Note the positioning screw added in the lower right of the photo.

I usually have a hard time with miter joints. In the case of the “end caps” as I call them, I ripped a 45 degree miter with my table saw and then ripped the opposite side a little wide. I then took some off little by little until it fit. It went pretty good, but one edge had a very slight gap or two. Fortunately this corner faces the back of the headboard and will be out of sight. It will give me the opportunity to come up with some home made filler I read about in Fine Woodworking’s 201 Tips For Woodworkers special publication – the kind of filler that accepts stain well (click the link, FWW has this mag on sale – I give it five stars).

Here I glue the end cap in place.

Currently. The two headboard posts about 90% complete excluding the finials.

I have worked hard on this project especially the past weekend. The headboard posts still need to be trimmed to final length and I need to plane the inside edge flat, but they are almost complete.

I’ll finish them up this week and I’ll move on to the posts for the footboards which I have already started working on.

This project is being built in response to the historic tornado outbreak that occurred in Alabama on April 27th. On that day, 63 tornados struck our state which claimed the lives of 247 people and caused between $2.45 billion and $4.2 billion in property damage. The Tornado Bed will be given free of charge to a needy victim of the April 27th tornado event.

To view all posts on this project click here. This is post two in this series.


  1. It's looking great Jeff. Your leg detail is great, and you've figured out a great way to make them using the tools' you've got. I tip a hat.

    Also, ….. the joys of having a stash of lumber laying around to choose from? It's big, expensive, a pain to store, hard to move and STILL you never have the right boards for a project, and need to make a trip to get more. 🙂

    Keep up the great work!!

  2. The project is looking great. I know what you mean about avaiable lumber.

    Fortunatley I do have other sources avaiable when I can't find what I want at Lowe's or Home Depot. Going to Woodcraft or Rockler for me is dangerous as I get lost in this candy store.

    Rockler sales rep turned me on to one of my sources Brazos Materiasl.
    and I knew of Ft Worth Plywood from my youth working under my Dad.

    Point being you might ask Rockler about othe sources.

  3. Jason, I appreciate your comments about stocking lumber at a shop. Makes me feel better about how I do things.

    David, I'm the same way when I got to Woodcraft and it is not just the lumber I got nuts over.

    Thanks for the comments.

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