Introduction: Nail-less, Glue-less Almost Screw-less Fire Finished Bed

Picture of Nail-less, Glue-less Almost Screw-less Fire Finished Bed

DO YOU MOVE A LOT FROM ONE HOUSE TO ANOTHER? you need nomad furniture and this bed is really good to move it around, just take it apart and put it together like a puzzle, No Nails, no screws. It is also really simple to make and looks very good.

Step 1: How to Begin.... What You Need

You need basic tools for carpentry and wood working, manual or powertools. This bed can be made using only a saw, a screw driver and a steady hand for straight cutting, you also need 3/4" or 1" x 6" x 10' boards and a pole 6" diameter. (How many boards you need or how long the pole, depends on how tall you want your bed to be. (standard height of a bed is about 2 feet) and the size of your mattress so you will have to do those calculations yourself..).
1" board will make a stronger more sturdy bed so I recomend those. You will also need about 20 screws, and 3 or 4 hours of your time.
To make the fire finish you will also need a plumber's torch or any other gas torch but of course this is optional.


Step 2: Measuring and Measuring and Then Cutting

Picture of Measuring and Measuring and Then Cutting

So, take your boards and put them beside your mattress to be sure you will have a perfect fit.
Mark the boards with a pencil on one side and measure the lenght and width of your mattress. You need to measure only one side, obiously the other side should be the same (unless is a weird non-square mattres)

Step 3: Cutting the First Joints

Picture of Cutting the First Joints

Really important!!!! make 90 degree cuts as precise as you can, If you do not do this at the end you will not have a strudy bed.
This step is really easy to understand just by looking at the pictures so please go ahead and look at the sequence of pictures below.... you simply cannot miss.
Just remember two things:

to have a TIGHT FIT you must cut just a little bit smaller than the width of the board (about 1/32" less than the width of the board)

When you put togeher the boards you will need to tap slightly with a hammer to make a good fit.

Step 4: This Is the Almost Screw-less Part of the Instructable, the Side Board

Picture of This Is the Almost Screw-less Part of the Instructable, the Side Board

You will need to attach a side board in the inside of the "square" you've just finished so take a 1" X 3" X (lenght of your mattress)' and screw it to the inside of your, almost finished, bed using 10 screws on each side. This board will be used to support the boards (plancks) that will hold your mattres, so it must be well screwed unless you want to fall through your bed in the middle of... the night.
You also need to leave about 2 to 3 inches from the top to fit the plancks and your mattress so that it will not slide while...sleeping.
Once again just look at the pictures and you will know exactly how to do it.... really easy. I don't think there's need to explain how to do the transverse plancks, is there? just make sure your 90� cuts are good enough

Step 5: The Tricky Legs....

Picture of The Tricky Legs....

Now, THIS is the step that will decide how strong your bed is so.. be careful.
First decide how tall you want your bed to be (in my case 23") and cut the pole, but take into consideration, the thickness of your mattress, the 6" of the board that will slide into the pole. AND ONCE AGAIN 90� cuts must be very well done!

You must cut a cross shape into the pole at 90� angles, the cuts must be as deep as the boards (6") so that they will slide all the way in, also the cuts must be a little bit smaller than the width of the boards to ensure a tight fit and no movement, you should be able to put them together tapping sligthly with a hammer.

Once more, just look at the pictures.... they are worth a thousand words.

Step 6: Check Point...

Picture of Check Point...

By now your bed should look like the picture below..... If it doesn�t, you screw it very bad in one of the previous steps (that's why is named the "almost screw-less bed".

At this point you can choose any kind of wood finishing procedure (barnish, ink, paint, etc) or you can continue and see the fire finishing method.

I should thank the author of one instructable from which I took the idea of making " fire finishing" of wood but honestly i do not remember which instructable was it and i can't find it anymore. Please if anyone finds it let me know so that I can give proper credit to the person who wrote it.


Step 7: Playing With Fire

Picture of Playing With Fire

So, Now you need to take that little pyromaniac inside of you and let it out...
Take the plumbers torch (propane torch) and slightly burn the surface of the wood (between 3 to 5 seconds will be enough) constantly moving the torch to avoid total charcoal finish. Try it and you'll get the hang of it really quickly.
Once you are done with the whole surface you are DONE you have a new bed..... no wait.... just put the mattress on to and some clean sheets and now you are DONE.

enjoy your new puzzle bed that you can move around to any house easily.

All comments are welcome.


PraetorianXX (author)2015-03-13

I used a hand saw for some of the cuts, then I got tired and borrowed a reciprocating saw from a friend like this one:

I used a large chisel to remove the wood between the cuts and then sanded.

I moved home about 2 years ago which was made a little easier because the bed can be dismantled very easily. Last year I decided to change the legs to a different design that takes up a little less space in my new house. A neighbour was having a loft extension and had some leftover wood that was strong enough to use as bed legs. The legs are bolted to the bed sides using 150mm and 180mm coach bolts and I added some extra pieces of wood as cladding, just to make it look a little tidier

My version of Tazo's design with the round legs lasted for more than five years. The bed now has different legs but is still very strong, doesn't creak, and has never needed any maintenance. We now have two young children who bounce and climb all over this bed and it stands up to everything we throw at it.

PraetorianXX (author)2009-07-25

Hi Tazo,

I used your guide, but with a few minor alterations, to make a king sized version of your bed. I used larger boards for the sides and also used three 4cm x 4cm beams to support the planks - gotta be strong enough to hold two people. The mattress I have is a Tempur one that measures 1.5 metres, by 2 metres. I've got a little more work to do on it like trim the ends of the main boards so they are flush agains the legs, then apply some sort of finish (my gf probably won't like the pyro idea though).

Thanks for the guide, I had a lot of fun building my own bed =)

nordlich14 (author)PraetorianXX2014-12-09

Hey, not sure if people still come back to this thread 5 years later, but anyway what did you use to cut the cross joints on the legs? Im an using 8x8 square oak ones with at least 6" depth of cut, so a jigsaw is not going to work. And i dont know how straight it would be to cut one by hand. Any suggestions?

krapo40 (author)nordlich142015-01-18

I find this post 2 months ago. I cuut all of my board but i still didn't cut the cross on the legs cause i don't know how to do it...

If you found a find a good way to do it, please tell me :)

Tazo (author)krapo402015-03-11

Use a handsaw or a band saw.

Tazo (author)nordlich142015-03-11

I meant to say bandsaw, I ended up using a Handsaw. I have edited the instructable to avoid confusing people. Thanks for the comment.

Tazo (author)PraetorianXX2009-07-31

That's a great photo. This is the purpose of instructables I´m glad you had fun

OmarN2 (author)2015-03-09

You'd have to be pretty accurate to use a jigsaw to cut the posts, and have the world's straightest cutting jigsaw. I think you can pull it off with a bandsaw.

Tazo (author)OmarN22015-03-11

A bandsaw is the correct way to do it, I have edited the instructable to avoid confusion. Thanks for the comment.

Tazo (author)OmarN22015-03-11

A bandsaw is the correct way to do it, I have edited the instructable to avoid confusion. Thanks for the comment.

plzspoilme25 (author)2009-02-26

any ideas for a headboard and footboard to match....i need a king size i'm thinking maybe another set of post for the middle? obviously with only one cross cut...and does using the torch help seal in all the toxins that are associated with those kinds of post? yeah i know there are "sealers" but adding one toxin to cover another seems...well kinna silly,

Tazo (author)plzspoilme25 2009-03-20

I do not know about the toxins on treated wood so i really do not know how to answer your question but someone out there may have better info??

christopher.roskosh (author)Tazo2014-09-21

Formaldehyde is the usual chemical used in treated lumber, and it will gas out into a room if used indoors. That is why it is only ever used outdoors, those posts you used are for supporting decks mostly.

Lokisgodhi (author)plzspoilme25 2010-05-05

You do NOT want to use treated lumber for this. It shouldn't be used inside in any case. It's strictly for outside use.

ismilelots (author)2013-07-11

This is awesome!!! I was going to buy a bed base but now I want to make one! Thank you so much.

Greaterbrisbanegardens (author)2013-04-15

How did you notch out the corners? Also, how did you remove the wood from the cuts?

doctoral (author)2012-02-09

I love working with wood so easy to correct your mistakes

skimmo (author)2011-02-20

its just like a big mortise and tenon, but your using a who plank in stead cutting a shoulder, that is a very good idea, is it rock solid?

Tazo (author)skimmo2011-11-29

I've been using it for more than a year now and it is still rock solid.I actually had some problems when moving since it was harder to disassemble than I thought probably moisture swelled the wood and made it even tighter.

skimmo (author)Tazo2011-12-08

yeah i had that problem before with a puzzle i once made it swelled and locked together, i think if you sealed it really well it would move that much on you

JRPeyesatsne (author)2011-10-02

Hi Tazo, great design!

I'm in the middle of making it, and do have one major thing to note for anyone else making one.
Do not use un-reinforced cedar for the main planks, and do not use a corner post that is too small.
I'll explain.

When you cut the planks off right after the main joints to make them sit flush, you're left with an approx. 1" piece of wood sticking up, with nothing to prevent it from easily breaking off. This leaves a weak piece, and potentially a very weak joint. Allowing the board to protrude from the post, or using a thicker post, allows more wood to remain to reinforce that piece. The reason I advised against cedar is because it splits too easily... I've already had three of these pieces break off!!

If the fix described above doesn't work too well (i.e. you either have space limitations, or you've already cut them, both of which describe me) I've got another one. Buy some small metal sheets, less than the thickness and width of the board, and screw/glue them on the ends. If they're made of brass or another nice-looking material, they will still look nice and hold up. For further reinforcement, you can drill holes in the posts and reinforce with bolts that can be removed to take the bed apart.

Unfortunately, this might ruin the aesthetic of the bed; just shop around to get something that can fit your tastes. It's either find something that works, or start again from scratch!!

mr.frob (author)2010-07-23

I actually had an idea very similar to this a while back because I hate disassembling/reassembling beds. Great instructable!

backpocket (author)2010-06-28

does the fire finish leave any marks on the sheets or mattress or should i use a clean lacker over it after doing the fireing. i also wonder where you got your wood mainly the posts? and do you think it would be a good idea to make somehow a metal bracket on the posts im afraid over time it would split. take a log for example put a wedge in it and it splits with no effort. but over time with boards in it slightly larger than the hole they are always emitting a large force down on the posts also out. i love your design i plan on building myself a twin one but want to make sure it would last long term with me and my girl.

Tazo (author)backpocket2010-07-06

The finish is only on the outside so it doesn't come into contact with the mattres but even if it did i have had no problems with stains. For the posts i bought them at the Home Depot and a hve been using this bed for over a year now and it is as strong as the very first day. Good luck and pleasr do post some pictures of your finished bed to see them.

babbs1st (author)2010-05-13

great bed hey if you did want it totally screwless you could use thicker sides and rout out the part the slats sit on maybe

Lokisgodhi (author)2010-05-05

Great instructable. You could burn the wood a lot more than you did.

Here's a traditional Japanese finish called Shou-sugi-ban. It entails charring a type of cedar, washing and then applying an oil finish.

rekcuftihs (author)2009-09-19

Very cool. How solid is it? I'm looking for plans for a cheap platform bed that doesn't make any noise at all when I roll around.

Tazo (author)rekcuftihs2009-09-30

Well, it's been 9 months since i built it and quite a bit of... rolling around has happend and you must know that not a single squeaky noise has been heard so far.... just keep the joints tight and that should do the trick. have fun making your own bed.

krh2 (author)2009-07-22

Thanks for this tutorial!! I almost made it a screwed design, but managed none the less. I couldn't find the posts so I used 4x6 for the legs. I didn't have a band saw for the cross cuts, but used a circular saw for most of the cutting and then finished with a chisel. If i ever build another of these, I'll buy a band saw... Didn't do the fire finish, but used redwood and stained it with a clear stain! Looks really nice!! My kids love it, they started referring to it as "Their bed". Do you have any ideas for a couch, because i may need somewhere to sleep. Again, thanks for the great design and tutorial!!

Tazo (author)krh22009-07-31

It would be great to see a picture of it. I am actually working on a dinner table and chairs right now so if after that comes the couch you will know. thank you I appreciate your comments

cavedueller (author)2009-07-03

This is a great tutorial. I've been planning on building a bed frame for a while, and had come up with a much more complicated plan. I think I like yours better! The fire finishing is a very cool and unique touch. I once lived in an apartment that had accidentally "fire-finished" floors -- another tenant had started a fire and the pine floor had burn marks all over it. I actually loved the look; I should've fire-finished the furniture I built to match!

bontoft (author)2009-06-16

well thanks man, I need a new bed and this is brilliant. It actually reminds me a lot of a bed that a guy I know made, I wanted to buy it off him but he wouldn't accept. But now I can make my own. Thankyou. PS i will try my best not to make it screwless :P

creep_firebombing (author)2009-04-16

This looks great! About how much did the materials cost? Did you buy everything or was some of it re-use? As you said, you played kind of fast and loose with documenting your measurements and materials list, but what size mattress did you use? One might have to purchase longer board lengths with a king size. And some money (and/or cuts) could be saved buying shorter boards for smaller bed sizes.

Tazo (author)creep_firebombing2009-04-18

Hi there, Mattres size is 1.37 wide, (between a queen and a individual mattress). I bought some materials at home depot and some others in a local wood shop. the total cost of the bed was around 100 USD (mattress not included) Probably not the cheapest bed you can make but I really liked the result.

Tazo (author)Tazo2009-04-18

Sorry 1.37 meters. The price includes cuts and few hand tools I bought, the cost of the materials only I don't really remember

creep_firebombing (author)Tazo2009-04-18

Awesome. Thank you. I'll be redecorating the bedroom soon and this will probably be the bed design I use. Great idea!

mitzrecords (author)2009-04-17

hi! great project. what kind of wood did you use? im looking for something cheap so maybe pine?

jrdriller (author)2009-03-16

Been in love with this bed since i first saw it. Any update on the wobbling issue? I plan to get alot of "use" out of whatever i build and was really hoping this would be it.

Tazo (author)jrdriller2009-03-20

Well, it has been 3 months now, it has been used...... and so far no wobbling at all, but a headboard could be a nice idea since the matress is about 4 to 5 inches from the wall after ... movement. partly because of the desing and partly because of the mattress itself. but any way the bed has proven to be as strudy as it gets.

erosser (author)2009-03-16

An absolutely beautiful design! I love nomadic furniture. The minute I need a bed frame-o-my-own, I will think of this. Well-done!

tomasina (author)2009-03-07

thank you!! absolutely love it i have been working through a bed frame design for a while now. now i know how i want my bed love the nomadic aspect especially

MaDoGK (author)2009-02-18

Nice! In my fav's! Will be building this soon when i get that far on the reforms for my house :D

camp6ell (author)2009-02-08

very very nice. did you finish the wood after torching the surface at all?

Tazo (author)camp6ell2009-02-09

No, I just torched the surface and that was it, nothing else.

the7gerbers (author)2009-02-05

Do you think this could be made taller to accomodate a loft-type bed? Add some supports across a couple ends??

Tazo (author)the7gerbers2009-02-05

Well, I am NOT a professional carpenter but My guess is that if you use wider poles (let's say 8" diameter) and a cross beam to suport them, The bed should hold just fine, I don't know about the stairs though.
Probably a carpenter reading this could give a better advice?

TheOneTrueStickman (author)Tazo2009-02-08

They used to build barns without nails - and last I checked you still can - so sure, it would probably be possible. :)

Disclaimer: I'm not a professional carpenter, either, but I have done quite a bit of carpentry and woodworking, from barn lofts to finish work.

Bunk beds shouldn't be much of a problem if you keep everything nice and tight, but a loft with no lower level would be harder to stabilize. You'd definitely have to use slats on the end for bracing, like a standard headboard & footboard on a bunk bed. A loft would need at least one slat or some sort of bracing long-ways so it doesn't want to fold up.

(Also - six inch posts would probably still be adequate. Cutting two perpendicular 1.5" slots still leaves you with the approximate equivalent of a 4x4 post.)

For the lower bunk frame, the frame would slot in pretty much the same as the instructable. The only difference would be that you'd have to put the slots right through the post instead of just in the top. One of the slots would be 1.5x as tall as the slat board to allow it to slide in and drop over the other. (Doing this on the top as well would provide more structural integrity.)

End slats would probably need some sort of peg to secure the slats into the slot in the post. Also make sure kids know "if you pull this out, it falls on your head". Could save more than one kind of headache.

Darn, now I want one. Need to go sketch this whole thing up...

strangebike (author)2009-02-08

sweet piece of carpentry fella !

barold (author)2009-02-05

hmmm i think my bed has been screwless for the past few months...

static (author)barold2009-02-06

Good. My mind wasn't the only one that went into the gutter, when I read the title.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a biologist, DIY guy, tools hoarder, and big admirer of people who can solve problems with ingenuous solutions..... the kind that make you ... More »
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