Live-edge Walnut Bed

This is what had been on my mind up until about three weeks ago.

  • Kickstarting my live-edge furniture career.
  • Sourcing my lumber more locally. Oregon woodworkers should use Oregon lumber.
  • I graduated college three years ago; I should no longer be sleeping on a futon mattress on the floor.

The bed above accomplished all three of these things and then some.

I will never be able to build this bed again. Why? Each piece of live-edge furniture can never be recreated.  It’s beauty is achieved by incorporating wood’s natural edges into the work which can’t be mimicked by man and his fancy tools. A woodworkers, we can only forego the typical dimensioning of lumber, instead incorporating natural edges into a work. This style, brought to popularity by George Nakashima, adds a more lively aura than any squared up and symmetrical piece. What’s truly enjoyable as a carpenter is observing every piece of lumber and letting it decide where it fits into the furniture.


The tricky part of building beds is that due to their size, the joinery needs to not only be sturdy as hell, but able to dissassemble easily too. A lot of beds use lag bolts to connect the rails to the head and footboards, but then you have a visible pocket on the legs. I love clean joinery. Bed hook brackets are hidden, but word is they can loosen over time and are difficult to repair. Then I discovered the hidden lag bolt joint, which was a bit intimidating, since I’d never done a regular mortise and tenon before.

It’s rad how it works. A nut is countersunk into the tenon of the head and bedboard pieces, which are then permanently glued into the legs. In order to create a T-slot for the bolt on the inside, I made a collar jig for my router (wish it was a plunger) and routed out three/quarters of an inch. Two slippery dowels are set in each end of the rail to prevent twisting. Once the mattress is in, it all disappears.

Second to the porceline library chair, the bed is where I get a lot of my reading done. Thus, a feature I’ve been keen on for a long time is a canted headboard.

I faced a tough decision when it came time to make the canted legs. I had a beautiful chunk of wood, but not enough to make two angled legs. I could, however, two-piece them with angled miters, which I did. The joining process was a troublesome one. Clamping the joint tightly without it opening on one side or the other proved difficult and required us to build a clamping cradle pictured in the top left. It still proved tremendously laborious. Lesson learned: next time I’ll get a bigger chunk of lumber.

So where did I find this phenomenal lumber? When I pondered the significance of the bed, I realized it’s the most important furniture in one’s dwelling. It’s where the day both begins and ends and is vital to your overall energy. Therefore, I wanted values embodied within it that I carry proudly, so I began researching locally harvested Oregon black walnut. That’s when I discovered Goby Walnut. I spent probably two hours hand selecting each piece, and lets be honest, I could have spent longer.

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3 thoughts on “Live-edge Walnut Bed

  1. gina pace says:

    the bed is so unbelieveable, rick you are so talented, i think its time to open up your furniture store. people in t-ride would go nuts! love u! pacemama

  2. H. Douglas Shepherd says:

    Looks great. It’s good to see other Portland folks doing fine craft-work.

    Live-edge work can be extremely satisfying and rewarding when done well.

    Keep up the god work!


  3. lostcascadia says:

    Thank you, Douglas. I checked out your site, very cool stuff. Loved your work in the backyard house! What kind of live-edge work have you done?

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