Side project: Building a bed

Recently I’ve gotten back into making furniture and things. I have always had a love for woodworking. In fact, it’s been a dream of mine since 7th grade woodshop class to one day have a small shop of my own and build furniture for my home.

Two months ago I started a rather audacious project to build a new bed for my bedroom. I have a king size bed, but I’ve only had the basic metal frame with box springs. I’ve always wanted something nicer, with a headboard and footboard.

The old bed

Using a couple plans found on (a great site by the way for DIY woodworking plans!) and modifying slightly for my needs, I drew up a plan and headed to Home Depot with my daughter to buy some wood.

The first round of wood

I went with pine because it was cheapest, even though it seems a bit soft for a large piece of furniture like a bed. But I knew it’d be easy to work with (it was) and I knew I was going to need a LOT of wood (I did). I made several subsequent trips after the initial to Home Depot to buy more wood as I realized I was missing pieces or had misjudged the lengths of some of the cuts.

The plan & cut list

The construction went surprisingly well – at no point did I encounter any major bumps or roadblocks. There were a lot of things I still remembered how to do, and many things I learned for the first time. Like how to join boards with pocket holes – brilliant!

Building the headboard first

Cubbies on the sides of the frame for storage

The 4 pieces are finished and clamped in place

I knew the frame would have to be able to come apart – it’s simply too big to move in or out of a room. So I searched online and found some cool 5 1/2″ bolts. I chose them carefully, spending a little more on these, knowing that I wanted the hardware on the bed to be exposed. Once the bolts were installed, the bed frame was nice and solid. I was a little worried that the pieces might not hold together tightly and the bed would be wobbly, but the thing is rock solid.

From there it was time to do the staining and finishing. First I sanded the whole thing down with a power sander. This alone took 2-3 nights the kids had gone to bed.

I wanted a distressed look for the wood, so next I beat the heck out of it with everything I could find: chains, hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches. My mind screamed “this is wrong!” the whole time I was doing it – I couldn’t believe I was beating up the work I had spent so long meticulously cutting & assembling. But I had done a few tests on some scrap wood, and I knew that once stained, the marks would love gorgeous. Fingers were crossed.

Staining the pieces took forever

The distressing done, I sanded the entire thing again with a fine 120-grit paper to get the wood nice and smooth, especially where I had damaged the wood more severly. I was careful not to sand away the imperfections, just smoothing it so no one would get splinters.

For the stain I used two coats of a warm oak and then a third of weathered grey to bump down the warmth and make the wood look a bit older. Let me say here that the staining and sanding of this bed took forever. The first coat of stain alone took me an entire Saturday, and I was exhausted. Fortunately the second and third coats were faster, but it still took me all weekend to do the stain. I was not expecting this.

Between coats of stain I did a light sanding to keep the surface smooth. Next came 3 coats of polyurethane, with a satin finish. I wanted it shiny but not too glossy. During this week, Seattle was experiencing one of its first cold snaps of the Fall, so I had the space heater out in the garage to help everything dry, because it was taking forever.

Once the last coat was dry I let the whole project sit in the garage for a week to completely seal the finish and eliminate some of the smell. Then it was time to move it in the room! Pictures of the finished bed below.

The finished bed!

Next we’ll buy some baskets for the cubbies

Exposed black iron hardware ’cause it looks cool

The distressing makes the wood appear old, and absolutely gorgeous

The footboard opens to reveal 24 sq ft of additional storage underneath!

I could not be happy with how it all turned out. What a blessing to be able to build something like this for my home.

Now I’m already thinking about a new coffee table for my living room…

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