The Tornado Bed
Comments 2

Tornado Bed: the hardware, part 1

The bed hardware donated by Jason Herrick. It consists of four pairs of male/female connectors.

You know, sometimes things just take a while, especially when you need to do something important and getting it right the first time is critical.

Such was the case with the Tornado Bed over the past two weeks. I am specifically talking about cutting the mortises on each end of the side rails. I had just spent about $100.00 on material for the rails so making a mistake at this point would be a bodacious set back. And, I had not made this kind of cut in end grain in ages. Therefore, I decided to take my time with this process and as a result, two weeks have slipped by since my last update (I also had many non-woodworking events which kept me out of the shop).

I contemplated the best way to cut the mortises in the rail end grain. It would be great if I could simply pick up an extra sharp chisel and quickly knock out the needed mortises. But I am not that good with a chisel. So, I decided to make a template and use my router, outfitted with a collar, to make the cuts.

I grabbed a scrap piece of MDF and after some fussing with the template I created, a proper fit was achieved and the mortises then proceeded. All photos are clickable for a larger view. Here is how it went…

The items needed to cut the mortises. I clamp the template to end of the rails; the collar rides against the template and the bit makes the cut.

I have temporarily attached the hardware with sheetrock screws. I used a chisel to clean up the cut creating a tight fit.

Screws don’t bite too well when driven into the end of boards. I easily attached the screws in the photo above with just hand pressure. As you might expect, the joinery for beds need to be extra durable. The joints where the rails meet the head board and foot board are critical ones. To give the screws something more substantial to bite into, I next drill three 3/4″ holes into inside of each rail. These holes are then filled with hardwood dowels…

I use by Dad’s bench-top drill press and a 3/4″ forstner bit to create the holes.

Note that I have removed one of the box beams from my Josh Finn style workbench. The drill press is sitting on top of one of the workbench sawhorses which makes the drill press platform about the same height as my adjacent table saw. This enables me to easily position the long side rails for drilling.

I then glue the hardwood dowels in place and sand them smooth.

The heavy duty screws are now driven into hardwood dowels.

Next, I’ll cut the corresponding mortises in the posts, install their hardware and then it will be time to set the bed up and begin thinking about the finishing touches for the project!

Since the end is in sight, I have begun the process of finding a home for it. Our church is participating in a tornado recovery program for the small community of Sipsey, Alabama (see the Restore Sipsey site by clicking here). Several homes are being built and I hope my bed can help a needy family there.

This project is being built in response to the historic tornado outbreak that occurred in Alabama on April 27, 2011. 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. The Tornado Bed will be given free of charge to a needy victim of the April 27th tornado event.


  1. The bed is looking great Jeff. Did you set the plugs to the inside or the outside? Either way will work well. Inside to keep them invisible, outside as a funky little accent. I can hardly wait to see it all put together! Cheers.

  2. I set the plugs to the inside, but you are right, the outside would have been interesting.

    My work responsibilities are slowing me down and there is a chance we will go to the season opener UA football game Saturday. I can hardly wait to set it up either, but I will have to really put some time management skills to work.

    Thanks for the comment.

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