Chet’s Pencil Post Bed
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!