The weekly plan

Woodgears’ Ski Rack Plan

I’m back!  Did you miss me?

Steamboat Springs

So, here’s where I was for the better part of a week. Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for a weather summit. I know, it was kind of odd to be someplace 7,000 feet above sea level and in temperatures as cold as -5 degrees Fahrenheit talking about hurricanes, but hey, it was pretty darned cool!

So, while I was away, I tried my hand at skiing. And, I am pleased to report that I returned home with two intact knees, making it that much sweeter!  I also came back to Florida with an appreciation for how much stuff it takes to participate in outdoor winter sports.

The Ski Rack

So, this week, I’m linking to Woodgears’ Ski Rack plan, for those of you who pursue the Alpine or Nordic flavors of this outside sport. It’s a great place to store and organize the skis, poles, wax, boots and million other accessories that are required to pursue this popular winter pastime.


MicroJig Art

Water you good for?

So, the bed project is rounding the clubhouse turn, and it’s time to start thinking finish. So, I need to start thinking about my options when it comes to finish, and it’s looking a little bit like I know where I am headed.

Painting a wood project

You see, my first thought was to paint the bed – perhaps something like a milk paint or some kind of acrylic that would be tough, durable and would make the piece look more unified. I have used paint several times, and since this project is mostly plywood, I wasn’t going to have too much heartburn going that route. It has served me well on utility projects for years.

But, then, a funny thing happened on the way to that decision. Rhonda decided that perhaps we didn’t want to paint the piece. She is now leaning toward applying a stain or dye and then using a finish over that.

Applying stain

Now, I’m not a big one for the stain. However, I do have to say that getting the piece to match the rest of the furniture in the room color wise wouldn’t be a terrible idea. I’m dealing with a plywood project, so this isn’t some outstanding piece of curly maple that I could ruin. I know that stains are made of pigments that are ground up and suspended in a solvent, embedding in the small nooks and crannies of the wood.

Applying a dye

We could also conceivably go with a dye. These babies have the color as a liquid – a lot like what clothes are colored with – allowing them to be more transparent. They can be a little tricky to apply, so I’m not sure I want to go that route.

Oh, by the way, now that I’m this far into the post, I should also let you know that I have already assembled the bed – inside my bedroom. Which means that traditional oil-based stains and dyes are going to be right out. I need this bed to dry fast and without choking fumes that will leave me out on the couch for days.

Nice challenge, right?

Minwax stain

That means I’m probably going to have to go with something like a water-based stain. The cool thing about this is that it can be tinted at the local home improvement center paint counter, which means I can bring in a drawer from an existing piece of furniture and have them match the color exactly.

Minwax Polycrylic

The same issue goes for my topcoat, which – as far as I can tell – the best option is to go with a water-based finish. I know the science behind these babies has changed tremendously over the past ten years, and they are becoming a lot easier to apply and more resistant to abuse. Plus, they dry fast and they don’t stink, two huge pluses as far as I am concerned.

How well will this work?  Not entirely sure. This will be my first crack at using products like these, so I’l be testing and letting you know how well they work.

So far, the bed has been an easy build. I hope that the finish goes as smoothly as the build.

But, if it doesn’t, there’s always paint!

Adjusting my drawers

No, this post has absolutely nothing to do with my underwear. Although, it could be a good place for me to store them… especially since I like to wear high quality skivvies from places like Duluth Trading.

Some nice buck naked boxer briefs

It is, instead, an article of about how I built the drawers on the bed. After my angst-ridden debate on how I was going to make things happen, I decided to build the drawers using pocket screw joinery. First, I had to measure the size of the opening. I was going to put the pocket screws through the front and backs of the drawers into the sides, and I also needed to account for one inch on the inside of the drawer width to account for the drawer runners. So, I did the best thing I could have possibly done.


That’s right, I left my tape measure on the bench and stacked the two drawer sides and my 1-2-3 measuring block into place, and marked how long I needed the fronts and backs to be. This way, I was positive I was getting exactly the measurement instead of trying to read the right tick mark on my tape measure – and getting it wrong.

Boring pocket holes

With the pieces all cut, I hopped quickly over to my pocket hole jig and started blasting out holes. It’s always amazing to see just how quickly you can cut joints with that sucker.

Drawer assembly

Using some clamps, a little glue and some screws, I was able to snug the drawers together and screw everything together in very short order. Instead of plowing dadoes for the drawer bottoms, I decided to just glue and nail them on. I figure that the runners I use mount to the bottom of the drawers, and they will hide the side of the bottom boards.

The drawers

Again, that made things very easy for assembly. I was also able to use the drawer bottoms to ensure that the entire assembly was perfectly square – an important next step in the process.

Using some inexpensive 3/4 extension bottom mount Euro drawer glides, it took very little time to get the drawers mounted and gliding perfectly, Since I am building the bed as a frameless cabinet, the next step will be to build some drawer faces to attach, and I will be just about done with this project.

The first drawer in place

Oh, by the way, I used a very similar – and hopefully clever – way to create night stands for the bed. Using a simple piece of piece of plywood and some 18 inch drawer glides, I was able to create flat surfaces for both sides of the bed. This way, Rhonda and I can put our books, electronics and other items down next to the bed.

Night stand

And, if we don’t need them, we can push them out of the way, totally hidden.

Night stand, closed

Rhonda likes this feature, since it creates a less cluttered, more compact bed area. Not too shabby…

The weekly plan

The Family Handyman’s table saw crosscut sled

Sure, you can use a miter gauge for crosscuts, but once a panel you want to crosscut gets much beyond 12 inches or so in width, you are going to need to step up your game and think bigger. That’s why there are a plethora of plans out there.

The Family Handyman Crosscut sled

This one, offered by the Family Handyman magazine, is simple to build and can bring a lot of accuracy to your project.

Oh, and if you want to make it even easier to build, MicroJig has a product called the ZeroPlay guide, which can simplify your construction and make your jig just a little bit more accurate.

Drawer choices

OK, so the bed is progressing well (if it wasn’t for that whole return-to-work thing I had to do this week, I might be done!) and I now turn my attention to the under-bed storage drawers. These babies are going to have to hold a lot of stuff. Wrapping paper. Cold weather gear (yes, we do travel north sometimes during the colder months, wise guys), Electronics boxes with all the parts and pieces we don’t need.

So, I am going to need to build six drawers that will be pretty sizable and will have to stash quite a bit of gear. Since this bed is not an heirloom piece of furniture (believe me, it’s plenty durable and nice to look at, but I don’t expect to see it in a museum any time in the next century), the whole idea of hand cut dovetails in carefully selected figured maple is right out.

Dovetails are pretty

So, what then? I could turn to a specialty router bit with a drawer-lock type joint. You know, the type that cut mating profiles that nest together to create a tight joint. Meh, I don’t think I want to wait for a bit to be delivered.

Drawer Lock Bit

How about a drawer that uses dowels to lock the sides to the box?  You know, that could work, but there’s the whole alignment thing to deal with…

A doweled drawer

Of course, I could turn to the old table saw trick I used on my friend Paul’s home office center… Just using the table saw with a dado blade.  Nah, too many blade changes make my head hurt…

Biscuits? Splines? Machine cut dovetails? Finger joints? Aaaaargh… too many choices!

You know what? That’s it. This is utility cabinetry that we sleep on. I’m thinking now why not just go for pocket screws and be done with it? The sides of the boxes are going to be made with plywood anyway, so no need to get all fancy with them.

A pocket hole built drawer

Plus, I plan on attaching some false fronts to the drawers to match the rest of the bed cabinetry, so you know what, I’m thinking that’s the way to go.

There. Decision made. Now, back to the shop!

Headboard, footboard

OK, so I’m in bed phase… and things have gone swimmingly so far. The cabinets are in place and bolted together.  But, wow, I don’t want to look at that footboard. Plus, I need something a little bit more – how shall I put this – stately for a headboard than just the painted wall.

So, I set about building a headboard and a footboard for the bed. This way, I could hide the seam where the cabinets are joined, and give the bed a more finished appearance.

Since I was going to make both the headboard and footboard out of the same plywood I was using for the cabinets, I started by using my edge taping trick to cut a matching veneer for the exposed edge of the plywood. That was easy with the table saw, some glue and a little blue painter’s tape.

The back boards

From there, I cut some alder boards to serve as posts for the bed. My plan was to face glue two boards together, cutting out the inside one to fit the head and footboard to make a strong assembly. I figured a one inch inset would be plenty strong for this, so I scribed a one inch line down the side of the two ‘back’ boards of the stack.


The next step was to lay the pieces on these scribed back boards to show what I had to cut away to fit the pieces. The footboard, since it was square, was a piece of cake. The headboard, which had a curve, was a whole lot more important to lay out to make sure the fit was perfect.

CuttingWith the marks in place, it was a quick trip to the band saw to slice away what wasn’t necessary. I love the band saw for work like this because it’s just so darned easy.

The assembly

With the cut made, I glued and tacked the two boards together, then glued and screwed the panels into place, fitting exactly in the area I cut. For some reason, this photo looks slanted,but I assure you that the ends of the board were indeed square.

The footboard

Just a few screws through the cabinet into the head and footboards made these things rock solid, and I just love the way the headboard looks with its graceful curve.

The headboardAll that’s left to do now is to build six drawers and finish the piece. Yes, we plan on finishing it in place in the room (with the mattress and bedding removed, of course), which means water based stain and finish – a first for me. This should prove interesting, but so far, I can’t tell you how happy I am that this is working out well.

Make your bed!

Oh, how I hated doing chores while I was growing up. Weed the flower beds. Shovel snow. Clean up the dishes after dinner.

And, make your bed. It was a chore I couldn’t understand why it was so important. I mean, yes, my dad was a Marine, and my mom loved to keep a neat house, but it seemed like such a waste of time, neatly folding and straightening out the sheets and blankets only to mess them up again later when I tucked in for the night. But, it was a big deal, and even though I couldn’t understand it, I just knew it was trouble if I didn’t take care of it.

Well, Mom and Dad, I’m making my bed. From scratch now. Yes, I’m building a new bed for Rhonda and me, and it’s about time. The original bed we bought when we first got married had served us well. It just was missing one critical thing in our basementless Florida home – storage. So, I set about to build something with a little storage that would be something a little stylish.


It all started, as you might imagine, with getting some supplies at our local home improvement center. I had the folks there cut the sheets down to the basic sizes so they would be easier to get home. And, you bet, it made carrying this stuff a whole lot easier.

Ply in the shop

Once I had the goodies in the shop, it was a simple matter of carefully marking where things had to be cut and where joinery had to be plowed out.

Marking where things belong

I turned to my router for most of the dadoes, since the pieces were very large. The rule of thumb is if it’s small enough, bring it to the tool (plow out those dadoes on the table saw), if it’s too large, bring the tool to the wood (routers).

routing the dadoes


With the dadoes plowed and pieces cut, it was a snap to move to the next step, which is a great tip I remember from Norm Abrams’ master opus when he built his kitchen cabinets – drill a pilot hole through the dadoes on the cut side, so later, when you go to assemble the pieces, you know exactly where to put the screws.

drill those holes

With the pilots drilled, it was time to assemble. I grabbed my glue bottle and a huge box of screws and set to work. The pieces needed only the slightest encouragement to drop into the dadoes, which meant I had done a good job getting the joints to fit tightly.

assemble the cases

The screws were there to ensure that the piece would remain tight throughout its lifetime. With a whole lot of effort, and some skinned knuckles, I managed to get the cabinets together.

A completed cabinet

Since a queen size mattress is 60 inches wide, I opted to build the piece as two cabinet halves and bolted them together. This way, Rhonda has a set of three drawers on her side of the bed, and I have a set on mine. It also allowed me to move each half into place,  lessening the weight and making them more maneuverable as I threaded my way through the living room into the bedroom.

The bed in place

Once in place, I bolted the two halves together and put the mattress on top. That was plenty of work for one day. I figured I could work on building the head and footboards and drawers and move them into place as they are finished, making more room in  my shop to move around.

As far as the old bed goes, well, our neighbor’s daughter is moving out to her own place soon, so I was thinking we could offer her the headboard, footboard, frame and box spring to her so she can set up her bedroom. No sense letting it go to waste.