Dumpster Woodworking

On my way bicycling home this afternoon I spotted someone putting most of an old bed frame out for the trash (along with a school easel). I stopped and said something like, “You’re throwing it out? That’s real hardwood.” He said yes, it was broken and it was about time to get rid of it. It looked like enough good wood to do something with. After supper I drove back and picked up the headboard, footboard, and easel. The easel is fine as it is. We’ll keep it in Maine for visiting grandnephews or other kids to use. The bed stuff looks as though it will be recycled into a night table or, possibly, two of them.

Here’s the footboard, as I retrieved it, leaning against the freezer in our cellar. Those are bins of indexed stamp mounts and finished stamps in the background.

Here’s the headboard on the workbench, in convenient bite-sized bits (or, pieces that I can easily transport to work on in Maine). Stamp mounts yet to be indexed are in the foreground.

Here’s the problem in disassembling the footboard (this happened not to be a problem in the headboard. The little plugs I’m going to tell you about had already fallen out or been removed, so all I had to to to the headboard was remove three screws from each post):

The problem is tha there are three screws holding the panels into the posts, and the screw heads are in counterbored holes which are plugged up with little wood buttons. I tried to pry the buttons out with a can opener blade on a cheap pocketknife, but it didn’t work. I looked in my rack of miscellaneous small tools for something more appropriate. (Digression: here’s something less than half of my rack of miscellaneous small tools:

It’s one of my three all time best yard sale purchases. I got it at a yard sale on Beacon Street in Waban. The person whose estate it was from had been, I was told, the first Jewish licensed electrician in the Boston area. The rack is a piece of 2×4 with holes drilled in it, most holding little things like dividers, small chisels, nailsets, needle files, bits for a bit brace, and a huge variety of little punches and picks that were handmade — cut, forged, and filed to the required shape, for some special purpose that only the original owner knew. Each one says clearly, “I’m not a piece of scrap, I was made to get some job done, and kept because a similar job might have to be done again.” And they do keep coming in handy.)

This one is going to be just right for prying out those plugs. It’s not really a chisel, and certainly not a screwdriver, but it has a heavy point at one end and I can hammer the other and pry with the whole thing.

Granted, there’s damage to the top of the post. But I’m not going to use it for a post. There’s a mortise cut out under those screw holes, so there’s not enough lumber there to do much with. I may eventually use part of that post as turning stock, if and when I get into woodturning, but this part isn’t useful. Here are the screw heads showing now that the plugs are gone, and now I’m ready to take the footboard completely apart (see “bite sized”, above).

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