Secret December Project: Building A Bed

I've told you all about one project of mine this month, and I shared the results of it a couple of days ago. But, for the past month and a half or so, I've been working on another project in secret. I couldn't share details here because it was a Christmas gift for Caitlin. Now that Christmas is over and she has her gift, I am excited to share it with you!

Secret December Project: Building A Bed

I first want to extend a big thank you to my brother-in-law Breagan, who let me use his garage/basement to prepare the pieces of this bed. He also provided plenty of tools I don't have (yet) including his planer, compound miter saw, and table saw. He also sourced the wood for me, having found a Craigslist seller who was getting rid of rough walnut for about $1 per board foot.

After selecting the boards I wanted to use, we planed them smooth and then cut them to length. On one or two boards that had some curvature only at one end we cut them short before planing. Next, we ripped them to 10" wide on the tablesaw, and I sanded the boards to make them even smoother. I then used my drill press to make holes where the boards would be bolted into the supports. This was done in two steps: first by drilling a hole just large enough for the bolt shank to fit through, and then a 3/4" wide hole about half the depth of the board thickness to allow the bolt head and washer to sit below the surface of the board.

The supports for the bed (which hold the frame together) were five 2x4's. I cut them to length, drilled a hole in the ends, and then embedded an insert nut in the ends so that the bolts could engage metal threads and tightly hold everything together. The headboard was made of three smaller boards which were planed, edge-glued together, and sanded smooth. I drilled five holes in the bottom edge of the headboard with five corresponding holes in the top edge of the frame rail at the head of the bed so that I could insert pegs to align and join the two pieces. My goal was to make it easy to disassemble the bed in case we move to another house or want to move the bed to another room.

I coated all the external faces of the frame and headboard with three coats of Minwax Polycrylic semi-gloss finish, and the inner faces got two coats each. I sanded between each coat and cleaned up the dust with a tack cloth.

The final steps before assembly were to cut some 1/2" plywood to size and to attach legs to the outermost 2x4 supports. I also attached small support rails to hold up the head- and footboard. This part is better explained visually in the gallery below, which depicts and explains the assembly process. Click any of the photos to enlarge; you can click or arrow your way through the enlarged images if you'd like. Mouse over the enlarged image to see the description.

I had a lot of fun doing this project and I'm so glad I finally get to share it. We slept on the bed for the first time last night and it didn't collapse, so we're off to a good start! I need to add a little bit more bracing for the headboard, which is currently only held in place by those five brass rods - I forgot to pick up the bracket I wanted last time I was at Lowe's. Overall I'm quite happy with how it turned out.