The Tornado Bed
Comments 5

Making finials for the Tornado Bed

The updated finial design. Here I have added a base for the finial to rest on.

One design change I made after drawing the SkecthUp illustration of the Tornado Bed was to add a little base to the finial. If this base did not exist, then the finial would sit on top of visible end grain, which I decided wouldn’t be proper.

Making the bases was pretty straight forward: four pieces of wood cut into small triangles. Sort of a challenge to make them all square (some of them are slightly out of square, but they’re close enough). See below…

Using my 45 degree miter gauge, I cut four pieces to form the finial base.

Using painters tape, I join all the pieces together and add glue.

All taped up, the bases are set aside so the glue can dry.

I once visited Tommy MacDonald’s website. I was viewing a video about the construction of his very impressive bombe secretary. Tommy was cutting a delicate piece of molding and he commented that it took something like 15 attempts before he got one that fit just right. I remembered that when it came time to form the finials for my bed project.

Here you see the glued-up stock which is 2 3/4″ square.

I move my fence to the left side of the blade and repeatedly cut away 2 3/4″ blocks which will become the finials.

A simple jig holds the block so the corners can be cut away. The blade is tilted to 35 1/2 degrees.

Making sure I get four good finials is now easy.

Here is where the Tommy Mac video influence comes into play. I cut seven finials and begin to decide which four I’ll actually use. Already the one in back has been excluded due to some tear-out along one of the edges.

After selecting the best finials, I use a 3/4″ forstner bit and drill holes for the dowel tenons.

I then temporarily attach a base to the top of each post with two carefully located screws.

The finials and the bases will be permanently attached with glue after I stain everything.

Here is the head board along with the and foot board mostly completed.

At this point construction of the Tornado Bed is about 97% completed. I am toying with the idea of adding dowel pins to the mortise and tenon joints located in the headboard and footboard, and technically, I need to cut slats for the box spring to rest on. But the major work from this point forward will be final sanding and applying the finish: pre-stain conditioner, stain and polyurethane – no small task. The end is in sight!

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 (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.


  1. I am REALLY impressed with how you figured this out. I know you had the guy's video to watch but even still that looks difficult.

    The finials are super cool!

  2. I can comment now, Yea!

    It's neat how a few simple operations can make something that looks so cool. I like how they provide a focal point to the clean lines of the bed.

    Now, I'm trying to think of a project that I can do something similar.

  3. Ben – thanks. I got the idea from an old magazine called Country Home. They had featured a woodworker named Peter Kramer. He made some beautiful pieces back then and had made a nice bed with finials like that.

  4. That jig & setup is brilliant. I've been wondering how you were going to formt he finials for soem time and this was definitely worth the payoff. Looking forward to seeing how it all looks finished.

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