Complete Your Country Bed

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In the previous issue of Woodcraft Magazine, we showed you how to turn the four posts of this modern-sized, country-style bed. Now, add the unique headboard and footboard to finish up this stunning addition to your bedroom.

Whenever I design a piece that includes turning, I begin by laying out the turned parts, and then turn a sample. I do this because I’m not good at visualizing transitions between two turned elements or between turned and non-turned elements. I need to see these turned transitions “in the flesh” to consider how they might best work together, and how they might best work with the non-turned elements.

 This defect in my ability to conceptualize on the lathe is worth noting because I think everyone who works with wood has limitations. Truly great turners (I’m lucky enough to know several) aren’t necessarily good at casework; likewise, truly great builders of casework are often not great turners. Similar statements can be made about anyone who exhibits genius at any of the woodworking specialties: veneering, carving, finishing, etc. No one masters every discipline.

Certainly not me. Like most contemporary furniture makers, I’m a generalist who knows a little about turning, a little about casework, a little about carving and finishing (and almost nothing about veneering). 

To be the best designer/woodworkers we can be, we need to acknowledge (and maybe even embrace) our deficiencies. That’s why I didn’t finalize this bed’s design until after settling on a post that both matched my skills as a turner and provided me with an acceptable level of aesthetic satisfaction.

The finial on these posts is something I stole from a Brewster chair, a Pilgrim design I reproduced some years ago for a local collector of 17th-century American furniture. 

What I liked best about that Brewster chair – and about my bedpost and its finial – is the sharp transition between the half bead below the ball and the cove below the half bead. I used the same transition in the bed’s headboard and footboard.

You can see the transition in the drawing on page 19. That transition – writ large – is the bandsawn profile atop the footboard and atop the headboard. On the headboard, the transition is not only much larger, but is also presented in several variations.

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