Joinery, not-oak

a quick post between tool sales…

I often get asked about what woods besides oak will work for the joinery methods I use. I have little experience with non-oak joinery woods. But recently I was sifting through some digital files, and found these shots of our bedstead. I built it about 12 years ago. Our house is too small to rear back & shoot the whole bedstead – so you get some detail shots only.


I contrived the construction. Period bedsteads are often assembled with iron bolts through the stiles into captured nuts buried in the long rails. I chose to sidestep those issues and use a through tenon with a wedge. But the format of the footboard here is just a chest front really, with extended stiles above. The stiles and long rails are ash, the panels and muntins are red oak. I worked the ash just as I did the oak; riven radially, hewn & planed. Drawbored mortise & tenons. Over time the color discrepancy gets muted. The footboard is four panels wide, the center muntin is wider than the other two muntins.

  bedstead foot board

The headboard was designed around the two horizontal panels that I had. These are white oak, the stiles and brackets are red oak and the long rails are ash again. Behind the bedding is a single white pine panel reaching down to a lower rail. That’s probably ash too, though I forget. I designed this headboard based on our room, and I didn’t want it to block the row of windows above that look out at the river. So I added a row of turned spindles trapped between two rails.


bedstead headboard

The long rails are 2 x 8s, again in oak.  I screwed two long ledger strips of oak to the inside of these rails, and have loose boards sitting across these ledger strips to support the bedding.

Ash is an all-time favorite wood of mine. Unfortunately it’s under attack these days. Lots of it is being cut, let’s hope it gets used for something other than firewood & chips. See the website here for the latest on the Emerald Ash Borer.



3 thoughts on “Joinery, not-oak

  1. I came up with the same solution for putting a bed together ,but used left over pine and no particular grace or attractiveness. It is surely useful to have something to make me feel that I should try harder next time. My back barn is full of planks and boards, beams, puncheons, riven pieces, bench top slabs and tool handle blanks from my attempts to stay ahead of decay as the ash trees die out of the woods. It will be a sad day when I cut the last tree.

  2. That’s a beautiful bedstead. But then I would expect no less of you.

    I have some black walnut that I want to try making a joint stool out of. It splits straight, and very easily, so I’m hoping the methods will work on it. I’ve also found that southern yellow pine splits pretty straight, if you can find straight-grained pieces at the home centers. I built an outdoor gate recently out of four pieces mortise-and-tenoned together, and I decided to split out the tenons and drawbore the joints without glue. It worked splendidly. The gate is very sturdy, and I may never saw tenon cheeks in SYP again.

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