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Larson Kitchen 1Later this fall I will be releasing an Alpha version of CabWriter. I have been working on this project with Greg Larson, owner of the New England School of Architectural Woodworking (nesaw.com). Greg, you might say, is the architect of CabWriter and I am the coder. The pictures you see here are snapshots I took of Greg’s kitchen – remodeled using CabWriter.

You may have heard bits and pieces of CabWriter if you follow me on my Popular Woodworking blog, or my personal blog or website. Today I want to formally introduce CabWriter and give you a hint of its features and show you some of the results to-date. But first there are two questions I need to answer, even before you ask them: what is an Alpha release and what is CabWriter?

What is an Alpha Release?

Larson Kitchen 1In the software world a new product is sometimes released in what is referred to as an Alpha release. The purpose is primarily to get very early feedback and suggestions. A secondary purpose is to build interest. Alpha releases are almost always free and have the following disclaimers:

  1. Functionality is incomplete or may change in future releases. That is, current functionality may be dropped or new functionality may be added in future releases. A CabWriter specific example is that it only works with inset doors in the Alpha release, but in its first product release will work with inset, overlay and frameless doors.
  2. There may be significant software bugs in an Alpha release. This is a direct tradeoff with the desire to expose a new product early. Users are asked to be patient and to take part in its improvement by reporting bugs to the developer. In the specific case of CabWriter reports should be made to me at : jpz@srww.com .
  3. The user uses an Alpha release at their own risk whether for personal use or commercial use. The very nature of an Alpha release is “use at your own risk”.
  4. Using an Alpha release is not a license to use the product release. You will need to acquire a license after product release.

Larson Kitchen 3So much for disclaimers, here is why I am releasing an Alpha version. I will be looking for help from users who want to design and build kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, and office or library furniture. I want feedback in the form of constructive criticism, bug reports, feature suggestions and training needs. In return, for those who actively participate, you get the first CabWriter product license for free. If you are interested you can contact me via email and ask to be an Alpha user. You don’t have to participate to be an Alpha user, but only active participants will get a free license. I will, of course, be the judge of who has actively participated.

What is CabWriter?

Larson Kitchen Modeled in SketchUpCabWriter is a SketchUp Ruby script extension (formerly called plug-in). As its name implies CabWriter permits automatic and efficient custom cabinet 3D modeling, shop drawing documentation, cut list generation and DXF output that permits CNC milling. CabWriter is tightly connected to CutList Bridge and hence CutList Plus fx for material optimization. CabWriter takes advantage of the powerful Ruby API supported by Trimble SketchUp; its functional code is written in Ruby while the Graphical User Interface in JavaScript, HTML and CSS.

Shop Drawing in LayOut 1There will likely be two or three version with a target range from the hobbyist/weekend warrior to the professional cabinet shop. CabWriter comes with CutList Bridge. So far we have designed, built and installed four custom kitchens and are currently working on the fifth and sixth.

Shop Drawing in LayOut 2The goal of CabWriter is to be able to meet with a client at their residence and within a few hours walk away with a complete 3D design the client can sign off on, including plan and elevation views, cut list and materials list, cost estimate and even DXF output for CNC milling. In the real world of course clients will always want to make changes the next day and for a few weeks later. However, CabWriter makes it possible to complete this entire goal in just a few hours sans further changes. In the next two months we expect to demonstrate this goal including the installation. We will document the entire project from design, through CNC milling to completed installation in a video.

Shop Drawing in LayOut 3Before I show you some of the design output of CabWriter let me list some of its important features:

  1. The entire design file stays with the SketchUp model. While you may export files for Excel, OpenOffice or CutList Plus fx, there is no need to save or archive these files. They can always be reproduced with the SketchUp model file and SketchUp with extensions CabWriter and CutList Bridge.
  2. CabWriter has a large set of defaults all of which can be changed by the user. This makes tailoring CabWriter to a given build methodology relatively easy as well as assigning default material types and names.
  3. CabWriter automatically draws cabinet with any number of boxes, creates and assigns component names, part names and material types and material names. Any attribute that can be specified using CutList Bridge can automatically be assigned using CabWriter.Shop Drawing in LayOut 4
  4. CabWriter permits changing of numerous cabinet and box defaults on a per cabinet and per box basis such as number of doors and drawers.
  5. Cabinets can be edited after they are drawn to change things such as width, height, depth, material, number of doors, drawers etc.
  6. CabWriter Version 1.0 will handle face frame cabinets with inset or overlay doors, or frame-less cabinets.
  7. CabWriter automatically stores CutList Bridge attributes in each component so there is little or no manual entry required.
  8. CabWriter makes plan and elevation views a snap and automatically includes the hatching for material keys.Sheet Optimization in Vectric Aspire
  9. CabWriter is completely functional in the Make version of SketchUp for hobbyists and weekend warriors who wish to design and build their own cabinet. For professionals CabWriter makes integration with LayOut a snap.
  10. CutList Bridge comes with CabWriter and permits near instant cut list generation. Its bridging capability to CutList Plus fx saves material cost with material layout optimization.
  11. CabWriter provides CutList Bridge with the information to automatically create all the DXF files necessary to mill sheet goods on a CNC machine. These DXF file can, for example, can be imported to Vectric Aspire or Vectric Cut2D which will do sheet optimization and output the necessary G code for CNC milling. The DXF files produced by CutList Bridge fx permits use of numerous applications as alternatives to Vectric Aspire (Aspire is the application we are currently using).

Single Sheet Enlargement in Vectric AspireGreg’s kitchen, shown in the previous pictures, and above as a 3D rendering, was drawn entirely in SketchUp using CabWriter. The following images are CabWriter views sent to LayOut. You can see that the drawing set is quite professional and complete. The last two images are the Aspire optimized sheet layout and an enlargement of one sheet. Shortly I will be releasing a training video documenting a complete design. I will announce it and the Alpha release in a newsletter and in my blogs. So stay tuned.

CabWriter to CNC

I would like to end this post with a short video of a CabWriter designed cabinet set cut on a ShopBot CNC machine. CutList Bridge, which is part of CabWriter, produces all the DXF files which are then imported into Vectric’s Aspire or Cut2D which in turn optimizes the sheet layouts and produces the G code necessary to drive the CNC. This video was shot on October 22, 2015 and is the first CabWriter designed cabinet set cut on a CNC machine. Much thanks to Mason Papaport of Rapaport Design (http://rapaportdesigns.com/) for the use of his Shop Bot CNC. Now pop the popcorn, sit back, and enjoy this special feature film.


Greg, on left, and students on installation day.Each year the New England School of Architectural Woodworking (NESAW at www.nesaw.com) runs a five month cabinetmaking course. The purpose of the course is to prepare students for a rewarding career in the field of cabinetmaking. Over 90% of NESAW’s job-seeking graduates find employment at architectural woodworking shops across the United States.

The industry is in dire need of skilled craftspeople, due to the record number of retiring workers and the declining number of vocational programs aimed at cabinetmakers.

NESAW LogoSign up now. Classes begin January 5th and enrollment ends on January 10th. Visit the New England School of Architectural Woodworking for details.

 

NESAW’s program teaches the fundamentals of architectural woodworking and offers students the opportunity to work directly with members of the community to design, build, and install projects. This combination of skills-building and real-world experience makes NESAW’s graduates particularly attractive to employers, since it means a safer employee, less on-the-job training and a better understanding of the entire project lifecycle.

Greg installing a sink.Students who enter the program to improve their woodworking skills or start their own businesses also gain from this approach, as they better understand how to more efficiently design and build a quality product.

The New England School of Architectural Woodworking is owned and operated by Greg and Margaret Larson. I first met Greg in the fall of 2011 through introductions made by a former student of Greg’s and mine. I wrote about NESAW in my December 21st 2011, March 29th and June 11th 2012 Chiefwoodworker’s Newsletters.

Margaret serving cake at graduation celebration.That year I taught a SketchUp class for NESAW students. During this period Greg and I spoke at length about what students were learning and the time consuming aspects of custom cabinetmaking. Out of those discussions came CutList Bridge and later CabWriter. Greg and I have worked closely together ever since our first meeting and I have spent numerous hours at the NESAW shop with his students. Each year I teach a live SketchUp course to the students. I t is with this intimate knowledge that I highly recommend visiting the NESAW website if you are interested in a career in cabinetmaking. You will find no better program or more caring people than NESAW, Greg and Margaret.


CutList Plus fx Preferences/File LocationsIf you use CutList Bridge to export a cut list to import into CutList Plus fx, you need to be sure CutList Plus fx is setup to be compatible with CutList Bridge. This is especially true if you use a non-dollar currency such as the euro. Here is what you need to check.

  1. Open CutList Plus fx.
  2. Choose menu Settings/General Preferences…
  3. Choose the File Locations tab.
  4. Under Export: check “Use Unicode file format when exporting.
  5. Click on the OK button.

If you exported materials.csv files from CutList Plus fx to CutList Bridge prior to performing this procedure you will have to repeat that export/import after this. Consult the CutList Bridge User’s Guide and go to the section called “To Create a List From CutList Plus fx:” for instructions.


SketchUp is woodworker’s chosen tool for creating shop drawings; CutList Plus fx by Bridgewood Design is the leading tool for generating optimized sheet layouts and materials lists. These two industry leading tools don’t natively communicate. That became history with the introduction of CutList Bridge. Now CutList Bridge 4 is even more powerful and rich with new features and is ready for even better things to come.

What is CutList Bridge?

Attributes TabCutList Bridge is a SketchUp Ruby extension. It extends the attributes of components to include such things as the material type used in its milling, the species or material name, re-sized dimensions, shop method tags, the sub-assembly to which it belongs and much more. These attributes are attached to the component and stored in the model file. The user can export these attribute to either: a .cwx file, which can be opened in CutList Plus fx version 12.3 or higher; or to a comma separated value file (.csv aka CSV) and subsequently imported to Microsoft Excel, Open/Office Calc or any spread sheet application that supports CSV importing. Either of these methods will produce a cut list but CutList Plus fx will also produce a materials list, optimized cutting diagrams and project costing.

Setup TabA very important feature of CutList Bridge is that it stores all components’ material and milling attributes in the SketchUp model file. The user need keep only one file of a design and doesn’t have to worry about synchronizing other files when design changes are made. The CWX, CSV, CutList Plus fx, Excel or OpenOffice Calc files can all be reproduced in about four mouse clicks.

What’s New in CutList Bridge 4?

CutList Bridge 3 added four new fields to the cut list .csv file: Tags, Fin T, Fin W and Fin L. However, they were only available for import to Excel and OpenOffice Calc; they could not be imported to CutList Plus fx. This limitation is eliminated in version 4.0, a major release with new functionality. Some of the new functionality was added to support CabWriter, a future new extension that will add to the SketchUp/CutList Bridge/CutList Plus design process. Other functionality was added to generally improve the extension for all woodworking projects. Here is a list of the new functionality and fixes:

CutList Bridge to CutList Plus fx

1. A Legacy Mode checkbox has been added to the Extended Entity Info dialog box Setup tab. If you do not have either a Gold or Platinum CutList Plus fx license of revision 12.3 or higher you should check Legacy Mode. In Legacy Mode you will not be able to export the Tags, Fin T, Fin W and Fin L columns. Legacy Mode is unchecked when CutList Bridge 4.0 is installed.

2. When using the File/Export to CutList Plus fx command a file is saved in the same folder (place) as the SketchUp model file (.skp), with the same name as the model. The file extension will be .cwx if Legacy Mode in not checked. If Legacy Mode is checked the file extension will be .csv.

3. The Tags, Fin T, Fin W and Fin L columns are now included in a File/Export to CutList Plus fx operation. In CutList Bridge 4 the command File/Export to CutList Plus fx now produces a file with the same name as the SketchUp model file but with the extension .cwx (a.k.a CWX) . Users of CutList Plus fx version 12.3 or higher can now open this file with the command File/Open. The fields are automatically mapped so the user no longer need manually map them with the Parts Import Wizard. In addition, upon installation of CutList Plus fx 12.3, the CWX extension is associated with CutList Plus fx, so the user can simply double click on a CWX file and CutList Plus fx is opened to it.

4. Fixed an issue with Add material when the material name contained the inch unit mark ("), which caused weird behavior with the list drop down boxes.

5. Some users have experienced problems with materials.csv files that contain Euros currency. This problem is solved in CutList Plus fx version 12.3.

The attached images show the new Extended Entity Info Attributes and Setup tab and a sample cut list produced with CutList Bridge 4 and CutList Plus fx version 12.3. The video below is a ten minute introductory of CutList Bridge 4 and CutList Plus fx. You can also view it on YouTube in a larger format.

 

Where can I get CutList Bridge 4?

You can purchase CutList Bridge 4 in the Popular Woodworking Shop Woodworking on-line store.


SketchUp is woodworker’s chosen tool for creating shop drawings; CutList Plus fx by Bridgewood Design is the leading tool for generating optimized sheet layouts and materials lists. These two industry leading tools don’t natively communicate. That became history with the introduction of CutList Bridge. Now CutList Bridge 3 is even more powerful and rich with new features and is ready for even better things to come.

CutList Bridge Extension for SketchUp

You can purchase CutList Bridge 3 from the Popular Woodworking On-Line Store.

What is CutList Bridge?

New CutList Bridge 3 TabsMany of you have used this tool before, but for those of you who have not, CutList Bridge is a SketchUp Ruby extension. It extends the attributes of components to include such things as the material type used in its milling, the species or material name, re-sized dimensions, shop method tags, the sub-assembly to which it belongs and much more. These attributes are attached to the component and stored in the model file. The user can export these attribute to a comma separated value file (.csv aka CSV) and subsequently import that file into CutList Plus fx to produce a cut list, materials list, optimized cutting diagrams and project costing. If the user doesn’t have a CutList Plus fx license the CSV file can be imported to Microsoft Excel, Open/Office Calc or any spread sheet application that supports CSV importing.

A very important feature of CutList Bridge is that it stores all components’ material and milling attributes in the SketchUp model file. The user need keep only one file of a design and doesn’t have to worry about synchronizing other files when design changes are made. The CSV, CutList Plus fx, Excel or Calc files can all be reproduced in about four mouse clicks.

What’s New in CutList Bridge 3?

CutList Bridge 3 now supports component numbering capability including manually by the user, automatically in alphabetical or numerical order by CutList Bridge 3 and automatically by CabWriter. CabWriter is a new SketchUp Ruby extension to be announced later this fall. CabWriter automatically draws custom cabinets using a simple and powerful user interface; see the CabWriter drawn kitchen below. CutList Bridge 3 is CabWriter ready.

A CabWriter Drawn Kitchen

A new Tags field has been added to tag critical shop operations such as adjacent component grain matching. Any shop critical operation can be tagged in this text field and can be alphabetically sorted to assist in efficient performance of these shop operations. This field will also be supported in future releases of CutList Plus fx.

Re-sizing of thickness capability has been added to the Resizing field. And now there are three new fields to export the finished or As Drawn dimensions. These too will be supported in the next CutList Plus fx release.

There are a number of internal changes that make CutList Bridge 3 ready for CabWriter as well as the next version of CutList Plus fx.
For more information on CutList Bridge 3 see the CutList Bridge User’s Guide. Below is a partial cut list of the kitchen shown in the above image exported to CutList Plus fx.

A CutList Bridge Generated Cut List Exported To CutList Plus fx

 

Where Can I Get CutList Bridge 3?

CutList Bridge 3 is distributed exclusively by Popular Woodworking. You can purchase CutList Bridge 3 from the Popular Woodworking On-Line Store.

Is there a Training Course for CutList Bridge 3?

PWUlogo_300Yes. There’s a three segment on-line course titled Using CutList Bridge 3 and given by Popular Woodworking University. Each segment is approximately one hour long and covers creating a cut list for three types of woodworking project: Furniture Pieces, Custom Cabinets & Structures such as a shed, home and home addition.


Cherry BedA number of years back I built a bed for myself using pictures and plans from an article in Workbench Magazine, Heirloom Bed, March/April 2001, page 52.

Constructed entirely of native New England cherry, it is finished with a natural, hand rubbed tung oil. Cherry will darken naturally with age to a rich reddish brown. The legs and rails are one piece, no glue-ups. This adds a little to the cost but makes the finished product more appealing.

Though not visible, the curved rail of the headboard has a natural grain pattern that looks like a dolphin jumping out of the water. We are always looking for natural patterns to incorporate in a piece.

I modified the bed slightly to have a clearance of 12″ under the bed to allow for storage and easy cleaning.

Cherry DresserDetail of Top, Trim, Chamfer and Lamb's TongueA few years later I designed and built two matching dressers. At right above is pictured the bed and at left the dresser. The dresser stands 48 1/4” tall, 36” wide and 18 1/2” deep. There are five graduated drawers, the top drawer having a faux front to simulate two drawers.

All Five Drawers Are Hand DovetailedLike the bed, the dresser is made of native New England cherry; the drawer boxes are poplar. The convex curves in the bed are picked up in the concave curves of the dresser. The legs have the same curved taper design at the bottom, chamfered on the corners with a lamb’s tongue at each end. The sides of the dresser pick up the tongue and grove slats from the headboard and footboard of the bed. To keep the same feel in heftiness I used stout 2” x 2” legs and a 1” top on the dresser.

In all my pieces I use traditional drawer design with floating tapered bottoms and hand cut dovetails. This project was a twin dresser build, so I had ten drawers to dovetail. At the end of an entire day of dovetailing these 68 year old hands can cramp up a lot ;<)

Hand Cut DovetailsMy current project is to design and construct matching bedside tables with two drawers and some space for books or a small stereo unit. I have a multi-part video series on my American Woodworker blog detailing the design process and modeling. You can view Designing Furniture From Scratch In SketchUp–Part 1 by clicking on this hyperlink.

SketchUp Model of the Cherry Bedside TableAt right is a picture of the SketchUp model of the matching bedside table. You can see how the curves, legs and slatted sides appear in all three pieces; bed, dresser and bedside table. The bedside table stands 32” high, 20 1/2” wide and 19 1/4” deep. The opening is 11 3/4” high and 14” wide; tall enough for an 8 1/2” x 11” notebook.

In the near future there will be detailed SketchUp models and shop drawings on my Free Plans page for all three pieces. Perhaps one day I will design a matching bureau and mirrors. Stay tuned.


Wood Movement Master Calculations For Expansion/Contraction Of Headboard Panel The Trundle Bed design is complete and with this post so will the Trundle Bed Design series be. The next Trundle Bed post will be Part 1 in the Trundle Bed Crafting series where we will chronicle the build of this bed. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and complete this post first before strapping on our shop belt. As always I will make plans for this project available to my readers on my Free Plans page.

Since the last post the only design decisions were that of choosing joinery and allowing for material expansion/contraction through seasonal changes. All panels in the bed will ride in a grove 1/2” deep by 1/4” wide. The panels must be sized to allow for seasonal expansion/contraction, and we would like the panels to be centered in the groves. To accomplish this I will use a relatively new product on the market called Space Balls. Space Balls are flexible polymer balls 0.260” in diameter to fit snuggly in a 1/4” grove. By placing a number of these all around a panel which is appropriately sized they assure the panel will always be centered, eliminate panel rattle and allow for smooth expansion/contraction. Space Balls can be purchased from a number of places, including on the internet from McFeely’s.

Expansion/Contraction Is Not An Absolute Constant Across The Panel The trick to using Space Balls and to sizing panels is to know precisely how much a panel will expand/contract over the course of a season. You have seen me make these calculations before using an application called Wood Movement Master from Kite Hill Software Inc. Unfortunately this application is no longer available and supported. So, while I will use it here, you can find similar free calculators via a search of the internet. If you want to do the calculations by hand see Understanding Wood by R. Bruce Hoadley, an excellent reference for almost anything wood.

CutList Plus 2009 Parts List Generated From SketchUp Via Cut List 4.0.7 The first picture left above shows the results of a calculation for the bed’s Headboard Panel. This panel is quite wide, 22 29/32”. The bed will reside on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, so I choose Massachusetts, Coastal as the “Ultimate furniture location” which specifies the seasonal extremes of Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC). The species is Cherry which defines the shrinkage percentage. The other critical parameter is the type of lumber, flat sawn in this case. Flat sawn lumber expands/contracts about twice as fast as quarter sawn lumber in most hardwoods. In the lower right you can see the results. This panel will undergo a total change in width of 3/8” over the course of a season. If I cut the panel now it will be at its narrowest because this is just past the peak of the dry season in Massachusetts. Space Balls recommends that panels be undersized 3/8” overall. I suspect this is a typical number for the typical cabinet door panel width. I decided to undersize this panel by 1/2” overall, which is how I arrived at the 22 29/32” panel width. This should work quite nicely.

One other subtlety about this panel, it is not the same width across its length; therefore the expansion/contraction will not be the same absolute amount across its length. See the second picture on the right above. Most of the expansion will take place near the center of the top edge where it will place the most force on the Swan Necks. This is a place where the Swan Necks are not physically attached to anything and hence will act as a lever prying the joint at the Headboard Posts apart. This is another reason why it is important to get this calculation right, that is, to minimize that maximum force generated by expansion. It is also why I will use lag bolts and glue on this joint to make it as strong as possible.

Rough Lumber Materials Requirement Per CutList Plus Calculations. While we are on subtleties there is one more to consider. The width of the panel given is good if I cut it right now. If, on the other hand, I get lazy and don’t get around to cutting it until late summer I need to adjust the cutting width for the planned expansion. If I cut it just past the peak summer humidity I may want to cut it 3/8” wider, lest it be too narrow and create an unsightly gap next winter. It is important to keep expansion/contraction in mind throughout the course of a design and crafting of a piece. Wood is still alive even though it is cut and dried.

Finally we can generate a cut list. Thanks to Cut List 4.0.7 Ruby Script (see Cut List 4.0.7 Ruby Script Connects SketchUp & CutList Plus ) we can pass information directly from SketchUp to CutList Plus and generate a Parts List and Material Requirements as shown above left and right. The rough lumber calculations are based 20% waste, which may be optimistic for hardwood calculations. It should be adjusted for the individual work habits. In addition to the rough lumber requirements shown above, two sheets of 3/4” plywood are needed for the platforms.

Now that we have completed the design I will make the SketchUp model file, CutList Plus file and a complete shop drawings package in PDF format available on my Free Plans page. The shop drawings in PDF format are thanks to LayOut, a presentation package that comes with the professional version of SketchUp. Now it is time to go in the shop and build this puppy. I will see you next for Trundle Bed Crafting – Part 1.


The Final Finial Design Is Slimmer & Shorter Well, the last of the design decisions involving the look and functionality of the trundle bed is complete. Two changes were made. The finial has been redesigned and made slimmer and shorter. This gives it a somewhat more delicate look while remaining substantial enough to look at home with the rest of the bed.

The Trundle Has Been Modified To Lower One Side For Sleeping Comfort The second change was in the trundle itself. It originally had two faux drawer fronts, one on each side. The thinking was that if the trundle bed were placed in the middle of the room both sides of the bed would have the pull out drawer look. The problem is that the faux drawer front rises above the mattress and would make the bed feel like a hospital bed, not allowing the person sleeping in it to dangle their legs over the edge. I lowered one side to the height of the head and footboard. This doesn’t completely solve the problem, but it gives the sleeper one side to favor when dangling a leg.

The Swan-Neck's Overall Dimensions It is now time to turn our attention to joinery and shaping. I like to have a strategy for shaping before I go into the shop even though it may change significantly once I start. The most complex pieces to shape are the Swan-Necks, Headboard Panel and Finial, in that order. So I will start with the Swan-Neck. The first and most important thing to remember about the Swan-Neck is that there are two of them and they are mirror images of one another. The shop drawings that I have created show one Swan-Neck, the left one. The drawings are annotated in a number of places to remind the craftsman that there are two, and the second is the mirror image. I don’t know about you, but I have made several pairs of things and discovered during glue-up that they were the same and not mirrored. Be forewarned.

Swan-Neck Cross Section With Dimensions The first thing you notice when looking at the Swan-Neck’s overall dimensions in the picture above left is that the stock is 3 1/4” by 3” – very hefty. Immediately you wonder – “What kind of router bit or shaper cutter can handle this profile and how will one actually move the stock through the cut?”. I decided that it is best to make the Swan-Neck out of two layered pieces, and, after some research of router and shaper bits, use two router bits and one shaper cutter to do the shaping of the stock. The Swan-Neck S shape will be formed using the band saw and various sanders. Before moving on to the next picture notice the mortise cut in the bottom of the Swan-Neck to accept the Headboard Panel. This will be cut with a slot cutter. At the end of this blog I will list all of the router bits and shaper cutters required to shape the Swan-Neck.

Back Layer Of The Swan-Neck Looking at the Swan-Neck cross section picture above right you can more readily see how the two pieces will be shaped. The front, and smaller piece, is only 1” by 2 1/4”. This curve can be shaped with Freud Raised Panel Cutter #UP209 and the companion Rub Collar #RC101. This cut will want to be made in a number of passes, probably by lowering the blade with each pass.

The second piece of this two piece sandwich is 2 1/4” by 3”. I will use two router bits to form it. The first is a rabbet cut 1/4” by 1/4” using a rabbet bit. This will remove most of the material. Then, using a 1/4” cove bit, I can shape the remaining curve.

Front Layer Of The Swan-Neck Take a look at the Swan-Neck back piece pictured above left. You will see that it is cut from a piece of stock positioned such that the grain of the stock runs through the center line of the Swan-Neck S. This stock should be 2 1/4” thick and minimally 8 1/2” wide by 28” long. The longer the length, the better. This will provide the opportunity to slide the template up and down the length of the board to choose the best grain pattern.

Note also the mortise slot for receiving the Head Board Panel. The particular slot cutter I have chosen cuts a slot 1/2” deep. The Headboard and Footboard Panels are designed to have a 1/4” tenon. Hence there will be a 1/4” gap. This gap will be filled with Space Balls, a hard rubber like ball that will give as the panels expand/contract with seasonal changes. More on this in a later blog.

Also notice the annotation that suggests that cutting and shaping the ends of the Swan-Neck may be a hand cut and sanding operation rather than using router or shaper bits. This is to avoid tear out ruining the entire piece. Better safe then sorry.

A similar picture of the Swan-Neck front piece is shown above right. This time I will use a piece of stock 1” thick by minimally 8 1/2” wide by 28” long. Again, the longer the better so that I have a choice of best grain direction. Also, as with the back piece, the ends will likely be shaped by hand to avoid tear out ruining the whole piece.

I promised a list of the shapers and cutters I plan to use to shape the Swan-Neck. These can very well change as I begin working the wood, but at this moment here is the list:

Freud UP209 Raised Panel Cutter
Freud RC101 Rub Collar for UP209
CMT 835.502.11 Rabbeting Bit Set
CMT 837.722.11 1/4” Cove Bit
CMT 822.364.11B 1/4” Wide by 1/2” Deep Slot Cutter
Freud UP207 Raised Panel Cutter for the Headboard and Footboard Panels

 

If you don’t have a shaper you can use similar or equivalent router bits. But they will have large radii which will require slow cutting RPM and they may not cut as cleanly as a shaper cutter.

In the next blog in the Trundle Bed Design series I will cover the shaping of the Headboard and Footboard panels.

Sneak Preview – Possible LayOut Tutorial

A Sample Of A Shop Drawing In LayOut As I mentioned earlier I purchased a SketchUp 7 Pro license and I am using LayOut to generate my shop drawings for this project. When they are completed I will make them available to you from my Free Plans page. I am also thinking of (quite seriously thinking of) creating a tutorial series on how to use LayOut. If there is enough interest I will get to work on it. To see how much interest there is I have a polling question at the top of my blog page. Please vote whether you are interested or not.


Isometric View Of Bed & Trundle The Trundle Bed design is almost complete. The joinery still needs to be added to the SketchUp drawings and I am not happy with the finial design at the top of the headboard. Also, I may dress up the faux drawer fronts a little to make them stand out more. The overall dimensions are 4’ 6 1/8” tall by 6” 11” long by 3’ 10 1/2” wide. The trundle will accommodate a twin platform mattress of 39” wide by 75” long by 8” thick. As it stands now the bed will accommodate  a twin platform mattress or a combination mattress & box spring of 39” wide by 75” long by 12” thick. Because the bed sits over the trundle its platform is necessarily longer, just barely enough to squeeze an X-Long mattress of 39” wide by 80” long by 12” thick, but with no margin for slipping a fitted sheet over it. The design could easily be modified to accommodate a few inches of margin.

Isometric View With The Trundle Pulled Out The trundle rolls out on non-turning casters aligned to make rolling out and in easy. The faux front drawer pulls also help. I debated using knock-down hardware to assemble the trundle instead of glued dovetail joinery. It certainly would make moving this bed easier. But in the end I couldn’t bring myself to abandon hand cut dovetails on a piece of fine furniture for knock-down hardware. The movers will just have to suffer. The overall trundle dimensions are 3’ 7 3/8” wide by 6’ 6 1/2” long by 12 1/4” tall. The faux drawer front is cock beading 1/4” thick with a 1/8” radius bead. The swan-neck cap on the headboard is rather thick, 3 1/4” in cross section. I may need to dress up the drawer front with more substantial and decorative trim to provide balance of attention garnered by the bed and trundle.

The Headboard - Notice The Swan-Neck Profile The shaping of the swan-neck will be done on my shaper using shaper cutters. The profile shown is an estimate of what I desire. In reality I will have to research my inventory, and on-line, to see which cutters I need to approach my desired profile. I have already done this for the shaping of the panels. They will require a Freud UP207 Raised Panel Cutter. Since I don’t have one I will purchase it on-line for about $140 plus tax. Shaper bits are not cheap, but in order to get a larger cut on the raised panel, I need to use shaper cutters rather than router bits. The Freud UP207 is designed for 5/8” panels which is what I have used in this design.

An End View Showing The Headboard & Footboard I am not real happy with the finial design. Though the bed has a substantial look, the finial seems to be too large and not delicate enough. I have changed it numerous times and still have more work to do. it is possible I might eliminate it all together and replace it with a reading light. One of those old style desktop lamps with the thick shade, dark green on the outside and white on the inside, might look good mounted on the pedestal. Alternatively a bedside table style lamp with a decorative shade might also look good. I have to check with the boss.

In the next installment of this series I will show the joinery and explain why I chose the joinery I did. One of the reasons for leaving the joinery to last is so that I can get accurate measurements of various components and then calculate the expected expansion and contraction during the course of a year. This drives the choice of joinery. In addition, leaving the joinery to the end allows for easy changes in design. Once the joinery is added, changes are much more complicated and require more work. Stay tuned.


Trundle Bed Sketch Minus Joinery & Panels After reviewing the styles and design criteria with Willow a few decisions were made. First, she fell in love with the Swan Neck headboard style shown in the third picture in Trundle Bed Design – Part 1. The second decision required a quick budget analysis of the component parts that made up a trundle bed’s height. This was aided by a few SketchUp drawings like the one shown at left. The total height of the bed from floor to the top of the top mattress was 30”. That included two 12” thick mattresses. Thirty inches was too tall because it was 4” above the sill of the window it would reside next to. Reasoning that a trundle is seldom used except as guest overflow, and that futons are often 4” or less, we chose to reduce the allowance for the trundle mattress to 8”. It should be rather easy to find a very comfortable platform, single  mattress, that is 8” thick or less.

This trundle bed SketchUp drawing is incomplete. It has no joinery included, the headboard and footboard have no panels to hide the trundle, and the faux drawer fronts have no trim to form the false drawers. In addition, the shape of the Swan Neck profile is simply a quick selection of geometric shapes, but I haven’t done a search of the shaper bits available to create them, so they are subject to change. This drawing took little time to produce, but it is very helpful in viewing the concepts and determining dimensions. From here I can try a number of design options.

Trundle Sub-Assembly Showing Dovetail Joinery One quick piece of joinery, and joinery decision, is shown at right. In almost all my projects there is a good size helping of dovetail joints. My favorite joint, and one I love to produce by hand. All that is missing from the trundle sub-assembly is the trim that will provide the faux drawer front look. The platform is 3/4” plywood. I almost never use plywood in my projects, but this is an application that screams out for it. Plywood is strong, it is almost warp proof, takes a finish well and it is cheap. In this application it will not be seen, but fits all the criteria. So I reluctantly submit to its use.

X-Ray View Of The Trundle Sub-Assembly - Note Casters & Dovetail Joinery I am an avid SketchUp fan and use it for all if my drawings. You by now have probably seen my beginner and advanced SketchUp tutorials. One of the really helpful features of SketchUp is the one click X-Ray. The picture at left is the very same drawing shown right above but with the X-Ray Icon selected. In this view the casters are clearly visible as are the platform support pieces. This view is not only helpful to see hidden joinery and hardware, but it also aids in the drawing of components when it is necessary to attach a primitive drawing element to an otherwise invisible point. SketchUp also has a companion sectioning tool that helps to make slices though any plane, for example a cross section down the length of the bed if desired.

Trundle Bed Sans Trundle Sub-Assembly Another feature of SketchUp is its ability to define views. A view can be from any angle, distance or several drawing representation (e.g. Isometric or Perspective). This helps when dimensioning a drawing or showing sub-assemblies such as the trundle above. At right is the bed minus the trundle sub-assembly. The number of views that one can create are virtually limitless, even in the free version of SketchUp. Recently I purchased the Professional version which includes SketchUp LayOut, at full featured presentation package. As this project proceeds I will use LayOut to create professional looking shop drawings and describe how this is done in this blog series. So stay tuned.

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