December 21, 2020
Tree bed

Some may recall that way back in 2017 our beloved tree was cut down.  About a year later the wood showed up after having been sliced, air dried and then finally kiln dried.  It then sat in our garage awaiting love and affection.  The plan was to recreate the basic design of the bunk bed we had bought.  We wanted something that would last and could hypothetically be handed down through the generations much as the tree had been a part of multiple generations.

 

Anyway, last year uncle Chris decided that Elizabeth had everything she could possibly want (which probably isn't far from the truth) and was seeking gift suggestions for Christmas.  We suggested that kicking daddy in the pants would be a good gift for her as it was likely the only way the bed would get made before she moved out.  Uncle Chris agreed and thereby signed himself up for many many hours of very hot and very dusty fun in the garage with daddy.  They basically spent most weekends over the summer processing the rough lumber into usable pieces of wood more similar to what you might get from the store.  This generated many garbage cans full of wood shavings and was probably at least half the work in terms of time.  In the end they used more than half of the pile of wood to make a twin sized bed!

 

After the wood was cut into little bits using a combination of a table saw, band saw and a thickness planer, it then had to be glued back together to make pieces of the correct length and width.  This may seem counter intuitive but none of the rough boards were long enough to cut the side rails from as a single piece.  Also most of the rough boards had defects or waves to them which meant that by the time you straightened out and dodged the defects you were left with much smaller pieces.  After the pieces were glued back together they then had to be planed down and cut to final dimensions and sanded.  Then in the case of the head and foot boards the various parts had to all be assembled into a single part.  This required cutting a huge groove into the top and bottom and then gluing all the upright parts into place.  With so many pieces and limited amount of time to get it all lined up and square before the glue set it was quite the undertaking.  After they dried the legs were drilled for the bed bolts which would hold the side rails on and then attached to the head and foot boards with dowels and glue.

 

Before the final gluing everything was test fitted inside the house to ensure that it would all actually line up and go together as a unit. Then finally finish was applied to the bed to protect the wood.  That marked the end of the actual tree based bed, but it still needed slats to support the mattress.  For those we sourced some Douglas fir from a lumber yard as it is very stiff and thus is suitable for use as slats.  These were just cut to length and given a quick sanding to round off the sharp edges and then screwed down onto the bed.

 

In the end it turned out pretty well.  It was certainly a lot of work and we tried not to think about it in terms of buying a bed vs making one because the economics were clearly not in our favour.  Daddy worked very hard on it with help from uncle Chris especially during the initial processing of the wood and it still took a good nine months.  Making real furniture is a lot of work!  It is also somewhat amazing how much tree is needed to make something relatively small and simple.  Daddy certainly learned a lot through the process as well and will do his best not to point out the (relatively minor) defects.

 

Needless to say Elizabeth was just a wee bit excited to finally get a real bed and no longer be sleeping on the floor.  Hopefully she looks after it and it can be loved for many generations to come.

 

Now we just have to figure out what to do with the rest of the wood...



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