Note to self, The Tornado Bed
Comments 4

Tornado Bed: making the footboard

Room to work. The recent relocation of my planer and drill press gives me the needed room to work on the footboard.

I like cars. As I write this, the TV show Rides is on and I am watching Chip Foose build a one-of-a-kind car called Impression. This car is a piece of art and the show had me glued to the TV. What impressed me most is that not only is the car a piece of art, but each individual component is too. This show has motivated me to look differently at my woodworking projects. I want to move more towards looking at my work in this way, as art. But, I need to master some hand tool skills before I get to that level. Something to work towards.

Getting to the next level means I’ll have to come to grips with the lumber I use. A thought I have is this: can a woodworker make a respectable project from lumber found at Lowes or Home Depot? I tend to favor these suppliers mostly due to convenience. I would like to design a future project featuring cherry as the wood; doing so means I will have to order it. My only reservations with ordering wood are not being able to pick my boards and being able to order enough wood. If I order too little, I won’t be able to simply drive down to the local home center and get more.

One thing I have learned is that making a project from home center lumber, which stands up to scrutiny, means very careful wood selection. In general, quarter sawn wood is the wood of choice – the grain is straight and more pleasing to the eye. The opposite of this is plain sawn wood which frequently yields grain that is in some cases wild and can be very distracting. See the photos below…

Visible. These faces of the posts will be visible from the front of the bed. Grain has been selected so that nearly straight grain is shown. Note the how nice this looks.

Out of view. This side of the posts will be largely out of view. I use less pleasing, very wavy grain here.

For the bed, the best looking grain faces the front of the bed. Also, the sides of the posts have nice straight grain. All of this is plain sawn lumber, but I have select the most pleasing grain to appear on the most visible parts. I have seen some really nice looking boards at Lowes and Home Depot, but these boards are in the minority. Lumber has to be carefully selected for both pleasing grain and color.

Making tenons. I move my fence to the left of the blade and use a stop block to limit the length of the tenon.

The upper cross-piece of the footboard is three inches wide and the mortise is 2.5″ so I only need to remove a quarter-inch from each side of the board. I simply nibble away the wood on my table saw.

For the tenons on the lower cross-piece, more wood needs to be removed (one inch), so I use a hand saw to remove the bulk of material and then clean it up at the table saw.

Traditional joinery. After a little fine tuning the tenons, they easily slide in place. I plan to pin these joints with oak dowels.

Currently. The footboard dry fitted. Luckily, it is perfectly square.

Next up: I’ll sand everything and then do the glue-up. Then, I’ll add the pegs. I hope to begin the headboard next weekend.

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

Note to Self: The other night, I made a quick trip down to my shop to glue up a couple of boards. I needed to cut them to rough size and in the process I dropped a board on my bare foot. The pain was particularly intense and still hurts two days later. A lesson I learned: always wear shoes in the shop, which in my case means tennis shoes. But, I wonder if work boots like those construction workers wear would be good and a little more likely to soften the blow?

This entry was posted in: Note to self, The Tornado Bed


During the week, I sell flooring products for The Dixie Group. Weekends, you'll find me in my basement workshop making furniture.


  1. The work is looking good.
    I know what you mean about lumber selection. One project I did from Lowes' Popular selection I ended up finishing because of the grain and the wood not taking the stain. It is a problem.

    On shoes – I am a diabetic and very careful about always wearing shoes to protect my feet.

    Back when I was in my early 30's I was working as a CMT tech and had been assigned to shoot some densities using a nucelar gage. Part of the test requied a 3/4″ hole driven into the ground using a template to guide it. The pin was driven using a slide hammer that had a rounded point on the end. When you were ready to begin you released the pin and began sliding the hammer head up and donw on the shaft of the pin.
    I was talking to the superintendet and forgot to release the pin and on the up stroke the pin came out of the template and I drove the pin down into my left foot that was holding the template in place. Drove it all the way through the a pair of brand new Red Wings steel toe pull on boots.

    I Pulled the pin out of my foot and began hobbling around with blood coming out of the top and bottom of the boot with the super freaking out about it.

    All I could say between laughting at myself was and now rember I work around construction workers. All I kept saying was STUPID STUPID STUPID.

    Steet toe boots want protect your feet as much as getting out of the way. Hope your foot gets better.

  2. Steel toe boots want protect your feet as much as getting out of the way.

    David, good advise. I also need to upgrade my miter saw station to provde support for longer boards.

    I'll bet that was one nasty injury.

  3. Looking good Jeff. Sorry to be so late to the game, but I did want to chime in about lumber.

    “can a woodworker make a respectable project from lumber found at Lowes or Home Depot?”

    Without question, I would say YES! The proof is all over your blog. With one exception that I know about, you've made several amazing pieces made of the wood in question.

    Now that being said. I would offer this long winded opinion.

    I consider large box stores to be a good “average” place to buy building supplies. They are not in any way a specialty dealer. In ANY department. I think of big box stores that sell electronics that same way.

    I rely on the knowledge and expertise of specialty suppliers. When I buy a computer, I go to a store that only sells computers. Washer and Dryer… An appliance store. A new camera, a camera store. I don't like to mix and match. I've found the sales staff to be less than knowlegable and the products too……. too……. average at the box stores. The same thing is true with the lumber. It's fine, but far from special.

    Our time is very valuable and so are our hard earned dimes. For the amount of time needed to pick through 30 boards only to find 1 that works is not worth my time. Personally. I quickly find that I save money by paying a bit more up front from a reliable dealer and order a couple extra boards. The headaches just aren't worth it to me.

    If someone chooses to build projects from the wood at box stores, I would encourage them to design the projects to work with their materials and not against it. If you cant beat em.. join em.

    I have full faith in your abilities to make some killer stuff from the materials you have available to you.

    And that concludes another long one from Jason. Cheers!

    PS- Wear comfortable shoes, and stop dropping stuff on em. 🙂

  4. Jason – I appreciate your perspective on things, so thanks for the comment.

    I agree 100% that the big box stores carry average items including wood. I am going to make more contacts locally and see what others do about lumber. We have a couple of sources, but one is about a 30 minute drive from my home. But I am going to have to get involved with the local woodworking guild and network some.

    Thanks for your comment and the compliment to my work.


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