Four Shelves and a Bedstead

A friend called me and said he was sorting out his old shed
before buying a new one. Did oi Want some wood? Of course I did! I thanked him and shipped it all home. It included some shelves made of window board and a few other miscellaneous pieces about 25mm (1 inch) thick and of various widths. I cleaned out a few nails and panel pins and put them in my workshop. A few days later I acquired a wooden bedstead. Seeing the slats stored next to the shelves gave me an idea.


Step 1:

I looked up Adirondack Chairs on and elsewhere. I found lots of inches! I vaguely remember inches. We had them in Junior School before I went to Grammar School in 1962. Resigned to my involuntary conversion (or reversion) I decided to carry on with the inches. I settled on a width of 20 inches between the two front legs after measuring the space I take up by me on my office chair. I took the other measurements and the angle between the front and back legs (15 degrees) from different published designs and the rounded ends of the legs from another. I reasoned that they would always touch the ground somewhere!

I cut the back legs from 5 inch windowboard (after trimming off the rebated part at the back edge) to 42 inches on the upper edge, measuring from the front of the front leg as in one of the designs I had seen. However I modified this to include a ‘round-down’ at the front rather than a flat front as in most of the designs I had seen. I marked this by using one inch scraps cut from the end of the slats (where there were pre-existing screw holes I did not want) Laying them out in the shape I wanted and drawing round them.

I cut the front legs, round at the bottom and square at the top and are 24 inches high. In retrospect I might have cut them taller had I any bigger bits of floorboard offcuts. I cut four pieces of scrap wood into ogee shaped supports for the arms. Then fixed the front legs to the back ones with 40mm screws and cup washers to prevent the wood from splitting. I cut the bed slats to 22 inches except for those between the front legs which were 20 inches long. I started the assembly from the front legs using a sash cramp for stability. I then cut a spacer from scrap and moved the sash cramp to the back.

Step 2:

I fitted four slats starting from the front of the front legs and working backwards, screwing them all to the back legs with two screws in cup washers at each end. I used a slim piece of wood to space them. (I don’t know what the measurement was, I didn’t measure!) then I fitted stretchers to both sides so that the top of the stretcher touched to bottom of the rearmost slat.

Meanwhile I determined that, using the same spacer, seven slats would make a 20 inch wide back. I cut two pieces of scrap floorboard about an inch thick into a curved shape I drew by hand. (I drew half of the curve then traced it, cut that into card and used it as a template for the other half. I cut one on the bandsaw then used that as a template for the other.) One I fixed at the bottom and the other at an arbitrary height which I thought looked about right. I chose the back height itself by adding a bit to that of my office chair which has a full height headrest. The curved top was marked with a pencil and a piece of string fixed to the bottom of the middle slat.

In my usual hit and miss way I determined that two more slats were needed in the seat pan and fixed these to the stretchers. I offered up the seat back and held it in place with temporary props. I was not happy with the crescent shaped gap at the back of the seat pan so I took off the last slat and marked and cut it to fit the curve of the seat back. I reassembled the chair but was a bit puzzled by the amount of chair behind the seat-back which was roughly half of the structure. Then I remembered the cabin chair I used to sleep in when I stayed at my Gran’s place. We are back in the 1950’s now. Memory is hazy but there were two parallel arms and a hinged back held up by a rod behind it resting in notches in the arms. If you took the rod away the chair became a bed big enough for a child.

So instead of making uprights to fix the seat back in position I set about making the chair a recliner. I fixed the bottom of the seat-back to the back legs with a short plank and a couple of old door hinges from my come-in-handy box. The rod system would not work well on a curved seat-back so I opted for a frame support. Offcuts from the slats formed the frame and two more slats formed the stops. The support frame is hinged to the top of the seat-back in such a way that it will move up to a right angle. This gives an effective third stop do that in the fully reclined position the frame will support the back by resting on the ground behind the chair.

I rounded the ends of the shelves to make the arms. Then I made upright supports for the back and fitted the arms to them. I found it more comfortable to cut out extra space in the inboard edge of the arms. When I screwed the arms down I countersank the screws to avoid the protruding cup washers causing cups etc to tip up.

Step 3:

All was going well until I tried to sit in it! The seat pan was too long and I didn’t reach the backrest. OK I have very short legs but the chair is for me so it has to fit me! I shortened the round-down at the front by one whole slat and after that it was fine.

Now I have to decide whether to paint it or not and I have to make some cushions. The bedstead came with a faux leather headboard so that will be my starting point.

Planning, research and time spent just staring at the woodpile, about three weeks. The actual construction took three afternoons. The bandsaw, table saw and mitre-saw made things easy and aren't battery-powered screwdrivers and drills wonderful! It will be obvious to anyone who knows anything that I know nothing at all about woodwork or typing or spelling in anything but British English so please excuse!



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