David Fay Custom Furniture
Rockwell Bed Frame drawing detail of sage-kama joint photo detail of sage-kama joint
Images from Article

Home Furniture Magazine

Fall 1995

By David Fay
Photographs by Lee Fatherree

This bed-frame design illustrates one of the central ideas of my work: I integrate construction with the intrinsic beauty of the wood to build simple and elegant furniture. The bed was built using exposed joinery to emphasize its construction. I selected each piece of lumber for its unique color and figure, giving careful consideration to its location in the bed frame.

I utilized a traditional Japanese architectural woodworking joint, called a sage-kama (drawing / photo), to connect the side rails to the posts of the bed. The sage-kama has been used for hundreds of years to stabilize structures and help them resist racking,to the diagonal bracing more common in western construction. The joint is a through half-dovetail locked in place with a separate wedge. It can be dismantled by tapping out the wedge and slipping the tenon out of the mortise, which enables the two side rails of the bed to be removed from the headboard and the footboard.

The customer selected narra wood for the bed frame because of its rich, vibrant color tones. To emphasize the joinery details, I used gaboon ebony for the pegs and wedges. I bookmatched the headboard and the footboard to give them a symmetry of wood figure and color tones. I also matched the posts and the rails by milling them out of the same planks. And finally, I cut a gentle curve in each piece to lighten the bed's design visually. I hope the simplicity of the design helps focus attention on the unique woods and the craft of the integrated joinery techniques.