The Tornado Bed
Comments 3

Back to work on the Tornado Bed

With all of the major items on my family to-do list completed, it is time to reflect a little. We had a great time on vacation. The condo we rented in Panama City Beach, Florida, could have been the all time best for us. It featured a somewhat panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico and the shore line looking west from our 15th floor unit. Like most of the high-rise condominiums in the area, this one was fairly new.

A view looking west from our living room. Imagine the stunning view considering the Gulf front sliding doors out of view to the left and two more windows to the right of these – awesome! Photo: Jane Bell.

The shore line at dusk. Our condo was an end unit which had a balcony that wrapped around three sides of it (note the balcony railing in the first photo). Photo: Jane Bell.

Then, once we returned from the beach, it was time to turn our full attention towards moving our daughter back to the University of Alabama. Part of the process included me building a contraption which would raise her bed so some storage units could slide underneath.

The SketchUp illustration of the “Bed Lift”. Made of pine, it eventually was painted black. The bed frame which sits on top of this is the inexpensive metal variety.

Here is a close-up of the joinery on the rear corner posts. It was my hope that letting in the cross members would add some rigidity to the piece.

With the move accomplished, it is time to get my basement shop back in order and get back to the Tornado Bed.

Fabricating the rails

The next step in building the bed is to fabricate the side rails that join the foot board to the head board. Each rail will be formed from two 8′ 1″ x 8″s glued together. The finished rails will be 82″ long, so before adding glue, I inspect each board for pleasing grain and note any defects or damage. I then mark which section of each board I’ll use. Glue is spread over the face of one board and then the two are screwed together to ensure they don’t slide around during clamping. This glue-up calls for a lot of clamps…

Fortunately I did not have to buy more clamps. Here I use every small clamp I own to glue together two long boards which will form a side rail.

After removing the clamps and cutting both rails to width, I clamp them together and sand their edges.

Next, I needed to cut the rails to length. I wasn’t sure my panel cutting jig would be able to handle boards this long, but the cuts went very well.

With the rails cut to width and length, I need to complete the sanding by running my sander over the faces of each rail. I start with 100 grit paper and work my way up to 220 grit. Note the difference between the sanded area in the lower right and the adjacent un-sanded area.

I need to add a cleat to the inside of each rail. This cleat will support the slats which in turn will provide a base for the box spring and mattress. I selected two 8′ 1″ x 2″ sticks that had warped something fierce by the time I got around to using them. So, I cut them up into smaller pieces and took the warp out of them.

Here are the two rails ready for the bed hardware.

This week, I’ll be working on attaching the hardware to the rails as well as the corresponding piece to the head board and foot board. Should be exciting work.

An important note about donors

So far I’ve had a number of people pass positive comments to me about this project. Thank you. It is the least I can do when disaster strikes so close to home.

I would also add that there have been many people who have supported this effort through donations. Building this bed without financial support would have been difficult.

The following people have made donations to this project and I would like to say a big heart felt thank you. The lumber and supplies shown in this post alone cost about $100.00, so your monetary support has been vital. I have received donations from the following people:

  • Mark and Amy LeJeune
  • Steve and Jane Bell
  • Jack and Mary Branch
  • Betty Branch
  • Jim Branch
  • Jason Herrick
  • James and Susan Dunlap
  • Mary Willis

Your support has helped cover a significant part of the cost of this bed, so again, thank you.

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.

This entry was posted in: 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. Those look like very structurally sound side rails! I bet carpenter Jana had to help you with those long cuts.

    Come to think of it, you probably have some tool to help you with that.

    Nice job Jeff!

  2. You make me homesick for Gulf Shores! It is time for a trip to the beach. I continue to be impressed by your woodworking skills. Your family is blessed to have you.

  3. Jane – I am doing my best to make them structurally sound. Jana has helped me several times on this project, but I like to do cuts without the help of others – it's a safety thing.

    Deb – thanks for stopping by!

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