Bed Construction Notes
Materials: All of our beds are constructed of solid hardwood. We buy our lumber in the rough and mill it in the shop. This procedure takes more time, but insures that our parts are flat and true. The individual pieces are grain matched. If a design calls for two adjoining panels they are always made from the same board. We always buy F.A.S. lumber. This is the top grade, and insures wide boards of good color with few defects. The frame parts of our beds are always made from one wide board, never glued up from narrow pieces.
Joinery: Most of our beds consist of a headboard, a footboard, two siderails, and support slats for the mattress. Our four poster beds break down further to allow the posts to ship as individual pieces. The frames of the headboard and footboard units are always with mortise and tenon joints (see illustration). This traditional joint provides the maximum glueing surface, and great mechanical strength. Panels are always made of solid wood, and float in grooves to allow for seasonal movement in the wood.
Assembly Joints: The connection between the siderails, and the headboard and footboard is the most important aspect of bed construction. These joints must withstand repeated assembly and disassembly. We use the traditional bed bolt system (see illustration). All fine antique beds use this system, and I have never seen it fail. A machined bolt passes through the headboard/footboard, and connects to a matching nut buried in the siderail. It assembles quickly and securely with the bed bolt wrench provided with each bed. The resulting structure is wonderfully secure. Headboard and mattress become a single comfortable unit. Most manufacturers opt for some kind of system that relies on attaching a metal hanger to the siderails with woodscrews. Woodscrews do not hold well in endgrain. These systems always fail. They do allow the manufacturer to use thinner wood on the siderails, and to avoid the labor intensive process of installing the bed bolts.
Slat Support System: We make our beds in two different configurations. The first is to support a boxspring and mattress. The second is to support only a mattress where no boxspring is desired. The boxspring and mattress system uses five narrow slats that fit in pockets on the siderail. They cannot move, and do not fall out. Due to the boxspring, this bed configuration is higher We adjust the height of the headboard for maximum clearance above the bedding. For those who wish to support a mattress without a boxspring we extend the slat system to include a platform comprised of full width poplar boards that virtually fills the mattress cavity. This system provides excellent support for conventional mattress, futon, or waterbed. It is priced as an option on our pricelist. We feel it represents an excellent value, and an elegant system. On king size beds we provide the slats with spines of the same material to stiffen the slats for the wider span.
Underbed Drawers: Our underbed drawer system is a true chest of drawers without the chest. Drawers run smoothly on hardwood runners. The drawers are part of the structure of the bed. Bed and drawers are a seamless piece of cabinetwork that easily assembles and disassembles for moving. We normally provide six drawers, three on each side. This system represents an attractive alternative to a full chest of drawers in terms of space and cost, without compromising quality or convenience.
Finish: We use a penetrating linseed oil to finish our beds. This is a clear finish that shows the actual color of the wood used in the piece. We follow up the application of three coats of oil with a coat of paste wax. We recommend renewing the finish with an occasional coat of paste wax.
Dimensions: We are happy to build a bed to particular dimensions at your request. Dimensions of mattresses and boxsprings from different manufacturers vary greatly. If you measure your bedding or get dimensions from the dealer we will adhere to those dimensions during construction.