Anna Liffey Sleigh Bed
In response to asking my son Matt “what would you like for your wedding present” he replied “a king size bed!”. The led to the selection of the Anna Liffey sleigh bed by Shackleton Furniture of Vermont - which I was fortunate to find plans for in a back issue of Fine Woodworking. I sourced air dried walnut from several sources and the proceeded to learn how to cut/shape the curved pieces and assemble bed that would last a couple a life time - I hope. Since it was cold weather and I had to finish indoors without much ventilation I also used no voc methods that would be both safe and effective. Four months later the bed was complete and delivered. It was a great experience.
The Fine Woodworking article provided the necessary details for the build. I converted the images for the legs and head and foot board supports to full scale templates.
I was fortunate to find 8 and 10/4 air dried walnut in long enough lengths to make the side rails and cross rails from. The air dried wood had a beautiful range of color including shades of purple.
I roughed out the legs and then planed them to thickness.
While band-sawing to the patterns brought the pieces close to dimension there was a lot of hand work to refine the shapes. Rasps and spoke shaves were useful for this task. Since this build I have spent more time learning how to pattern band-saw and would expect less hand work on the next project.
The original plan joined the Xs to the cross rails with dowels. I decided to use floating tendons. These were laid out with a jig designed to cut them at a 9 degree angle so that they head and foot boards would curve outward for the sleigh effect.
The Festool Domino 500 combined with the jig made quick work of cutting the mortises.
Here is the X after it has been cut out with the Domino mortise and floating tennon. It made for a very solid joint.
The full scale patterns had to be transferred to the X blanks for band-sawing.
Here you see the band-sawn X ready for the next stage.
The spindle and belt sander were used to clean up the band-sawn Xs.
The Xs were curved and thus hard to hold with conventional clamps. I built a curved form for my vacuum jig and used it to hold the X firmly while I refined the shape and cut the beads.
Here you see the X on the vacuum clamp.
I used a beading tool to cut the beads. This was challenging because of the constantly changing grain direction on the Xs. Keep the blade sharp, Channing directions and being patient was key to nice clean bead and smooth edge.
The legs were held to the cross rails with dowels. I drilled the dowel holes with a template.
I then transferred the holes in the legs to the rails with dowel points.
... and drilled the holes with a drill jig to keep them at 90 degress.
The foot board was dry assembled several times to be sure the 16 Xs with four tennon each would line up properly.
I exhausted my supply of clamps to perform the glue up and used TiteBond extend for a longer open time. Cool temperature in the shop helped too.
I was happy to have the head and foot board and foot board complete.
I relieve on conventional bed bolts with covers to secure the rails. This was a proven method. I also used six angle irons to hold the mattress supports in place. I also learned that king size beds need 9 points of support for the mattress so added leg braces to the cross boards under the mattress..
The Fine WoodWorking article was instrumental in the build. There were follow on articles on the boiled linseed oil and wax finish too.
It was a great project and I was happy to get it out of the house and too it’s new home so I could have shop and house back.