A way forward
So what ever happened to the bed project, you ask. Oh, that. Yes … well, believe it or not, it’s still being worked. (I know you believe it because by now you know how glacially slow we are at finishing our projects.) When I left off, we had just learned that we didn’t qualify for the free TempurPedic pillows because we wanted to buy only the mattress, not the foundation piece. Eric was struggling to gain traction constructing the mahogany bed frame, and my stain test results were a big disappointment.
When we returned home after deciding not to order our mattress, I was seriously bummed. Sure, we could wait to buy it until Eric finished the bed frame, but I really, really wanted a new bed. Now, not months from now. I considered our options. Should we bite the bullet and buy the set (foundation and mattress) and bag the idea of a platform bed? We could simply bolt the headboard to the frame whenever Eric had it ready. But what about the footboard, which was almost done? He had worked so hard on it, and had spent a bundle on the expensive mahogany. It would be a shame not to build the whole bed frame as we’d planned. But our plan just wasn’t coming together. Do other people agonize so over buying a freakin’ bed?? (Well, maybe … a king-sized TempurPedic probably costs more than my first car!)
Then Eric brought the finished footboard upstairs. Wow—his craftsmanship, as usual, was outstanding. No way was it becoming firewood! Somehow, though, I would have to find a way to give it the finish it deserved … and I was worried about that. My angst continued.
The unstained footboard is hanging out in the library where it’s safe from marauding cats. It’s 30 inches tall.
Finally, we made a decision: We’d buy the @#$% foundation piece, get the free pillows, and set up the bed. Then we’d finish the bedframe at our own pace … and in the meantime, we’d have an awesome bed. What’s a few more hundred bucks?? Sheesh …
We felt liberated just having made a decision. The next day (the last day of the free pillow offer), we returned to the store to shell out the cash. But first, we stopped at Rockler Woodworking and Hardware, to learn about staining mahogany. I brought my ugly stain sample. The salesman was wonderfully patient and demonstrated several products and techniques that would increase the uniformity of the stain. Counter-intuitively, the first step is a coat of shellac (Zinsser Seal Coat) to seal the pores! Then the Minwax stain, then a couple of coats of General Finishes Enduro-Var urethane sealer. And inevitably, lots of sanding in between. I breathed a sigh of relief. I couldn’t wait to test the new method.
Out on the deck, I set up a little production line with five mahogany scraps that had a variety of graining. First, I coated the scraps with shellac.
I had three different colors of stain at my disposal, but I started with the darkest, Minwax Dark Walnut, because I knew the shellac undercoat would prevent the stain from soaking in too much. I painted a strip of stain down the right side of each board, then rubbed it off. If I wanted to try another color, I had plenty of room.
Dark walnut seemed like the right color. I needed the depth of color if the bed was to blend with my mom-and-pop dressers. I applied another coat to deepen it a bit, then, satisfied, I stained the rest of the boards.
Two coats of satin urethane topped them off. Beautiful! A photo won’t show it, but when I turn the wood from side to side, the dark and light stripes reverse. Trippy.
With the samples against the bare footboard, you can see how the graining will look when it’s finished.
On the appointed day, our bed arrived. Two guys made short work of setting it up—they’d done this before. In a flash, our saggy bed was gone and this beauty was in its place. Duke approved.
Flat as a flitter! Hard as a board! (A board covered in memory foam, that is.)
Believe it or not, that’s exactly what we like. I can’t get over the fact that I can lie anywhere on this bed and there’s NO sag or trough. Ahhhh! The only problem I’ve encountered is a reluctance to get out of bed in the morning.
In a few weeks, our free pillows arrived, each in its own little fabric suitcase, as if they expected to go on vacation with us. Wouldn’t you think that if you buy a king bed, you’d get king pillows? But no, these are “standard” size. I’m not sure whose standard, because they get lost in standard pillowcases. They look like little kids wearing daddy’s T-shirts. I think they’re too hard and too high, not soft and squishy like the ones in the showroom. Eric likes his okay, but I’m disappointed. After we made such an effort to buy during the pillow giveaway! Bah! (“I would sleep on one,” offered Lacy.)
However, the bed is divine. We and our bedcats love it. I immediately quit thinking about how much money the whole gambit is costing us. A good night’s sleep is priceless, as Chex and Peggy Sue will attest.
(Stay tuned for the staining story … it’ll happen, um … soon! I’ll be doing it outside, so the weather needs to be perfect.)