Chet’s Pencil Post Bed

Viewer Project - By Chet
Added on March 25, 2010

This project holds special meaning for me as it is a wedding present for my oldest child, my daughter, Chelsea. I made a cradle for her when she was born and as she transitions into this new time in her life, I thought a bed was a fitting gift. I built what is commonly referred to as a pencil post bed. It gets its name from the tapered octagons on the posts. This one is a copy of a period piece from the 19th century. The Tiger Maple I used came from Good Hope Hardwoods in East Pennsylvania and is a traditional choice for this type project.

The construction was a classic hybrid power/hand tool exercise where I used the bandsaw, the shaper, and the mortiser for the base roughing out of the project. Most of the time spent was with hand tools: planes, chisels, and card scrapers. Because Tiger Maple has such wicked grain patterns, I used both a Lie-Nielsen 4½ with a high angle frog (York Pitch) and a Lee Valley low angle smoother at 62 degrees (50 degree plane iron and a 12 degree bed). A well-sharpened card scraper was really a life saver.

I used a lambs tongue on the rectangular transitions that sit between the tapered octagon upper posts and the straight octagon lower posts. Eight lambs tongues on each post—32 in all. These are carved with a flat chisel.

The finish started with a coat of Honey Amber Maple aniline dye. Following the instructions of Glen Huey’s DVD, “Finishes that Pop”, I kept soaking the wood with the dye until it would no longer absorb it. I waited two days for the wood to completely dry and then I used a coat of boiled linseed oil (also per instructions from Glen’s DVD). That really made the rays on the Tiger Maple stand out. However, I had to wait 5 days for the BLO to dry. I then coated the surface with 4 coats of gloss armor seal followed by two coats of semi-gloss armor seal. That gave me just the right amount of gloss/glow.

When all is said and done I am pleased with the piece. More important, my daughter and her fiance are very happy with it. Sometimes I really love this hobby!