Author Topic: Accounting for wood movement in a headboard?  (Read 2047 times)

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Offline gearhound

  • Posts: 66
Accounting for wood movement in a headboard?
« on: January 29, 2019, 10:05 AM »
I'm starting to plan out my 1st bed build similar to this one in the photo. I'm trying to determine the best way to attach a walnut panel to the posts that allows for seasonal expansion?

Also curious what a good angle would be to slant it back at?

Thanks for any suggestions!

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Offline stickman

  • Posts: 23
Re: Accounting for wood movement in a headboard?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2019, 10:44 AM »
Build the headboard and insert it as a floating panel. Use Space Balls in the gap to eliminate rattling. For instance, cut the panel 3/8" wider than the gap between the posts and cut a 1/2" dado into the posts in which the panel can be inserted. Do not glue it; let it float.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2019, 01:25 PM by stickman »
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Offline Sanderxpander

  • Posts: 354
Re: Accounting for wood movement in a headboard?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2019, 11:42 AM »
I'm just a hobbyist/home remodeler but my headboard is mounted against the wall and not attached to the bed at all. Of course this only works if the bed is fairly heavy and against the wall to begin with.

Online duburban

  • Posts: 1037
Re: Accounting for wood movement in a headboard?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2019, 01:00 PM »
Build the headboard and insert it as a floating panel. Use Space Balls in the gap to eliminate rattling. For instance, cut the panel 3/8" wider than the gap between the posts and cut a 1/2" dado into the posts in which the panel can be inserted. Do not glue it; let if float.

This addresses one dimension but I'd be more concerned about the other. To address the other I'd cut a shoulder in my panel and let it expand from the top down so all expansion/slop happens below the pillows.

Man... there should really be a sketch pad feature on here.
helper: i used a festool "circular saw" to do something simple and it made it really hard

me: exactly, it makes simple cuts complicated and complicated cuts simple

Offline Dongar

  • Posts: 85
Re: Accounting for wood movement in a headboard?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2019, 06:09 PM »
The last bed I built with a large solid wood panel I used a blind sliding dovetail slid in from the bottom and pined on the top so the movement was all on the bottom.

Online duburban

  • Posts: 1037
Re: Accounting for wood movement in a headboard?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2019, 10:26 PM »
The last bed I built with a large solid wood panel I used a blind sliding dovetail slid in from the bottom and pined on the top so the movement was all on the bottom.

Whoa...
helper: i used a festool "circular saw" to do something simple and it made it really hard

me: exactly, it makes simple cuts complicated and complicated cuts simple

Offline James Carriere

  • Posts: 53
Re: Accounting for wood movement in a headboard?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2019, 11:11 PM »
A tapered dovetail is a good method to attach the headboard panel to the corner posts and is not that difficult in practice.  There are some Youtube videos which show the process as well as a great article published in Fine Woodworking authored by Tim Rousseau which you can look for on the subject.    Alternatively you could over-cut the dado length in the posts and pin the top to set the height and control the direction of the wood movement from the top towards the bottom.  There are several online calculators to help you determine how much the wood might move based on the species and dimensions.  However, with that said, it is really the width (cross-grain) of the headboard you need to be concerned with. The length of the wood (long-grain) really won't change so there is not a need to use space balls between the headboard panel and the depth of the dadoes in the corner posts but rather the clearance should be between the width of the headboard and the length of the dadoes.  i.e. If you cut your dadoes to a length of 10 inches, you might cut your tenon length to 9.70 inches to allow for seasonal movement.  Use the online calculators to help determine the actual estimated amount of recommended under-cut for the tenons.  If you pin one end in place, (I'd do the top) the space balls will not be needed although there is not an issue with putting them in there if you prefer.   The pin will ensure there is not a rattle.  A rattle is typically more associated with a fully floating panel which this would not be.

Try some angles on paper, but 5 degrees would be a good place to start for the angle of the headboard.

Good luck and show us what you come up with!




Offline gearhound

  • Posts: 66
Re: Accounting for wood movement in a headboard?
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2019, 03:25 PM »
Finally getting around to starting on this project. Just made a jig to route the mortises for the rockler knockdown hardware and am making a rough mockup out of construction grade timber to test the angles.

Ive been trying to find more info on how others do headboard panels and it seems to me like most just domino/dowel them in with no regard for movement? I've never cut a sliding dovetail and don't really want my 1st attempt to be on a project this size with 8/4 walnut.

What do you guys think about basically using the breadboard technique with cutting loose/wide setting mortises on the bed posts and tight/glued-in dominos on the panel and then pinning the center domino with a dowel? Seems like it should work in theory....also wondering if I could use the same technique but skip pinning it with the dowel and just let gravity do the work of the panel sitting in the bottom of the wide/loose cut mortises while giving it room to expand vertically?

Thanks for any tips!

Offline nvalinski

  • Posts: 82
Re: Accounting for wood movement in a headboard?
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2019, 03:43 PM »
I'd go the breadboard route, though admittedly I built one nearly identical to the one pictured (15 degree back slope, if you were curious) without any account for wood movement, just one long glued mortise and tenon and it has been fine three years later.

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 2539
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: Accounting for wood movement in a headboard?
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2019, 08:35 AM »
I built a King Sized bed out of quarter sawn white oak. The headboard pieces were joined with Dominos. The headboard was edged with a strip of white oak. See 1st picture. The second picture shows an intermediate step to accommodate wood movement. Obviously, the protruding pieces are flush trimmed.
Birdhunter