THE BED has been wonderful. It's by far my favorite piece of furniture in the house at this point! But so far, we've only shared pictures of the finished product, however a lot of work went into making it. So without further ado, here comes a breakdown of how this bed was made exactly:
Making a bed that custom fits a space is not the easiest thing to do, but with a few materials and some space it is not too difficult. With Pottery Barn type beds going for $2000-$3000 you might expect that you can buy the wood for a lot less money, and you would be very correct. We spent a little over $300 for the wood and materials to make a queen sized bed. Although that number does not include sandpaper, tools, time, paint or space to build, and all those things can add up. Luckily we used trim paint from an earlier project, as well as primer, sandpaper, mineral spirits and glue.
The basic tools might not be in everyone's shed but the only power tools I used was a palm sander, so you really don't have to have a lot of money in expensive Home Depot mitre or table saws. Those power tools also take up a lot of space and our space is well-defined. You really just need a workbench, some saws, chisels and a mallet. Good weather helps a lot too.
The first thing I considered were the dimensions of the mattress and the space it was going in. That helped to guide the decision whether to have the front legs go underneath the mattress or create a foot-board matching the headboard.
In these photos you can see that having a foot-board increases the size of the bed. It seemed more practical to do away with the foot-board idea since space was a consideration.
So I designed the foot of the bed using 4" x 4" Fir posts which I cut 16 inches. The mattress is 6 inches in height so then the bed would be 22 inches in total height. That is a perfect height, but anywhere from 21-24 inches hits the basic idea. I needed 16 feet of 4" x 4" Fir posts and each 8 foot post was about $56.
For the rails on the sides and the front I used New Zealand Radiata Pine. These are really nice pieces of wood. They have no knots and are extremely straight. Each of the three 8 foot boards was $30.
I needed to have each of those pine boards meet at the front posts so I ripped the post down to the height of the 1" x 10" boards on each side of the front posts. The meeting of the two pine boards in a seemless way was accomplished by notching out, dovetail-style each of the side and front boards.
Carefully ripping the post with a hand-saw.
Measuring with a marking gauge.
Laying out the pine boards on the front posts to make sure everything fits.
Here the pieces are set up just to see if everything is square and sitting properly.
Now that the front posts are ripped down and the front and side rails are notched out they fit into each other and are ready to be glued. The distance of the foot of the bed is 57 inches and the back of the bed is 59 ⅛ inches. I did this because the back posts of the bed would not be connected like the front. The rear posts would be mortised in the center of the post so I had to account for the difference in distance so the the bed would be square.
Here you can see that the rear posts were mortised out to fit the 1x10 rails. For the rear I also mortised the posts on the inside to accomodate a Fir 2 x 4. The Fir 2x4's were really nice and strong. It was worth it to use a nice wood to support the rear posts. They were also used for the head board.
Now that everything fit it was time to start glueing the sections together. Each part needed to be seperately worked on to make sure it was straight. I added ½ inch dowels to the front and side of the front posts for increased strength.
Make sure you wipe up the excess glue.
Sanded and wiped with mineral spirits.
The glueing and setting process takes a while, so I was able to start with the headboard. I continued to use the 4x4 posts so they would fit on the lower rear posts exactly. I also used the Fir 2x4's for the inner rails and 1x3 Hemlock for the slats.
Here are all the pieces layed out.
Just like the rest of the bed I hand-chiseled all the meeting points and cut the slats and rails to fit in the holes.
Here is the completed headboard being primed.
After 24 hours the glue set on the main bed and I then focused on the inner rails to support the main weight. Across two points on the bed added 57 inch long Fir 2x4's glued with ½ inch dowels. On top of the side rails and inner rails would sit a ½ inch sheet of plywood.
Once everything was secure we sanded, primed and added 3 coats of ultra-bright white gloss trim paint. It takes a couple days to wait for all that paint to dry as well as trying to prevent dust from adhering to the paint, so you have plenty of time to finish any chiseling on the headboard or cleaning up everything else.
At this point I just added more of the 1x3 inch Hemlock to finish the sides.
I waited until I brought the bed inside to drill the dowels to fit the headboard. For that I used 6 inches of ½ inch dowels to let the headboard rest on the rear legs.
The total project took just about 8 days.
So yes, this project is not a beginner's project, however it's definitely doable if you take your time and break each step down. I love the cottage style headboard, the white finish, the sturdiness of the whole structure. In other words; I couldn't be happier with the way it came out!
More pictures of the finished bed here: The Handcrafted Bed