Bamboo Bed Part 1
The total cost for the bed is as follows:
Giant Bamboo - Free off Craigslist
Bamboo Fencing - $16 from Home Depot
Super Strips(1X4s) - $2:59ea $15.54 total
Angle Iron - $25
Welding Shop Assistance- $20
3" 1/4" screws - $5
20 Gauge Wire - $5
Total - $86.54
There are plenty of problems with the bed, and most of those are due to my caviler lack of measuring. The centerline of head and footboards for the steel brackets were correctly set at 60-1/4", but a change in the steel at the advice of the welding shop offset the angle iron from the brackets to the outside rather than the centerline. As such, the boxspring currently sits on the floor rather than the steel.
Also, the bamboo portions of the side rails of the bed are bowed out a bit too much (>3/4") in a couple spots along the rail. This is due largely to the way they were stored in the months leading up to the project (read as poorly). Had there been stored inside, or if time had permitted the possibility of straightening them, by steam of other means, this could have been countered.
Also, the angles where the siderails meets the posts could have been better, but a substantially compressed time window did not allow for changes here. As it stands, the bamboo perfectly covers the steel, and staining the ends of the siderails seems to mask the improper angled cuts.
All in all, if I did this project again, I am certain I could sell for a hefty sum and walk away feeling the buyer had received a great deal. Being my first large scale project in bamboo and finding little to no help on the Internets, I am happy with the results.
Step 1: Siderail Design
The bamboo of the siderails serves no purpose other than aesthetic. All of the weight of the boxspring and mattress is designed to be carried to the posts via the steel.
Step 2: Cutting the Bamboo
That being said, I did something unheard of for me and one and for all attached the blade guard on my tablesaw. The process was very simple. I marked the centerline of side I was planning to cut with tic marks along each chamber transition. The bamboo I used was not perfectly straight and had bows, crooks and kinks along the way. Choose the side that is the straightest to cut along. In my case, that meant intentionally cutting along a bow in the bamboo.
Measure your bamboo at both ends to make sure it is close to the same diameter, and set your saw accordingly. It will help to have an assistant on the back end of the saw to support the cut pieces as they emerge. Keep the bamboo quite a bit longer than your intended size (at least 1' longer). This will allow you to cut around badly bowed chambers.
Run the bamboo into the tablesaw with the understanding you may have to flex the bamboo at each chamber transition to get a good mostly straight cut. I found keeping my thumb on the inside of the bottom wall of the bamboo for the first few feet helped me keep the piece straight.
Your pieces should end up pretty well bisecting the original bamboo pole. Notice how varied each chamber is, and how the entire bisected piece bows out from the centerline. Also, not how thick each chamber transition is. You will see in later steps this is a very important resource.
Step 3: Cut, Bore, and Weld the Steel Legs
If you are planning to cut and weld you own rails please read on.
Everything I know about steel and welding can fit in a thimble. I have a small wire-fed welder that I have used extensively, but never with very attractive results. I found after several attempts to weld the angle iron that the welder didn't have the power or I lacked the skill to get a good weld on the 3/16" pieces I used.
For the brackets, I used CAD to design brackets1" wide and just under 2-1/4" in length (the bamboo had a diameter of just under 2-1/2"). I printed out the template and attached it to the barstock after cutting the pieces to length with spray adhesive.. From there, I used a punch to mark the center of each hole and bored them out with a drill press.
The welding shop suggested I abandon my 1/8" 3/4" angle iron and move up to 3/16" or even 1/4" as the pieces would taking on serious amounts of weight. So, I purchased 3/16"- 1" angle iron and had it cut to 82". I intentionally made the steel longer than the boxspring because I knew room would be needed for the screws, and I have found it easier to change the fitted sheet on my bed with this setup.
Step 4: Cut Bamboo to Size and Bore Through Chamber Sections
Begin by examine your halved bamboo. Ideally what you want is a chambered section as near as possible to the end of the steel rail. The closer you can get to the end, the tighter your bamboo will appear to be held to the steel.
The primary goal in sizing your bamboo should be to eliminate any major defects or bows in the bamboo, but if it just so happens to fall near the chamber sections, so much the better.
Cutting the bamboo can be done in three ways, it can be coped around the post, butt jointed, or mitered to give a fairly close appearance to coping without the difficulty.
Coping around the post at the head and foot of the bed would have been an involved process and means that your are effectively setting up a left and right side to the bed. The next time it is dismantled and moved, it might be setup incorrectly, and look much more shabby and rustic than intended.
Butt joining would have been easier, but it my case that would have allowed for more primed steel to show, and would in my opinion have looked a little less impressive.
The mitered joint I used can be adjusted to various diameters of bamboo and still allow for the flexibility to swap the siderails as desired.
To figure out your angle, take a piece of scrap that you have trimmed off the halved bamboo and adjust the angle until you get a fairly precise fit on each post. The angle I used was just over 20 degrees, but depending on your skill and setup you might even be able to great a multi-miter and cut to angles to approximate a cope but still allow for flexibility.
When you have finished, lay each bamboo piece along with its steel counterpart for the next step. Notice the witness marks to help line up the two pieces and how close to the end the last chamber section is.
You will want to drill a small hole (no greater than 1/8") as close to the inside edge of where the chamber section meets the inner wall of the bamboo. Also, if someone can give me a more scientific/universal name for what I am calling the "chamber section" I would be happy to change it. I was unable to find a diagram of bamboo.
The idea of this step is to leave as much material as possible between the bamboo and the steel for the wire to pull against.
Step 5: Bore Steel, Thread Wire, and Tighten Rails
After finishing all the holes and removing any burrs from the inside of the "L", cut enough wire (24 gauge or less) so you have two pieces for each set of holes about 10" long.
Thread each and every hole the same direction except the last one. The wires should extend the opposite direction so the ends will not have the ability to snag clothing, sheets, or any other loose article on or near the bed.
Below is a finished section. All the wire is twisted together, cut, and pushed below the edge of the steel facing downward. There will be some slack, and over tightening will snap the wire, but a happy medium is pretty easy to reach. When you are finished, the bamboo should flex just a bit (<1/4"), but cover the steel on both ends and return to its favored position without any assistance by you.
You can see too that there is a great deal of space above the steel where the bamboo reaches. This is because each bracket extends above and below the piece shown by nearly an inch.
Step 6: Sand, Stain, Assemble, and Reflect
Bamboo has an incredible tensile strength, but don't go crazy tightening the nuts. They should be tight, but not so tight as to crack the post and weaken it. The walls of my posts are between 3/16" for the narrowest and a full 1/2" for the thickest. If I ever get around to fixing that bed, I'm certain it can hold the weight of two people.
Make fewer major blunders than I, and you will have a bed that will be jealously guarded by you and envied by your friends.
If you get stuck with any of the instructions, please shoot me a message or a comment and I'll try to correct it and add any and all advice.
Sorry for the delay between steps, the bed is the worst and best of the beds I have finished. Worst in perfection, best in final appearance. It is the first I have done inlays and carving on, which will definitely be an addition to future projects.