Introduction: Rustic Bed Frame - Queen Size

Picture of Rustic Bed Frame - Queen Size

It started about a year ago. My wife and I were looking at hand made furniture and fell in love with a bed frame made of cedar. It was sanded and "rustic" meaning log form. We wanted to get it but it cost $1,000. So I told my wife that I could make it. And so, six months later, I started the project.

This Adirondack Style AKA Rustic bed frame can be made all with hand tools (power drill was used). The rest was hammer, chisel and hand saw. A lot of hard work, but can be made for roughly $50 give or take. If you choose to put polyurethane and stain it, the will be a bit more as you have to buy those. The one you see here, the finished product, was stained "Golden Oak" and Clear Gloss polyurethane.

This bed is a queen size bed, but am sure it can be adjusted to any size as long as you know the dimensions. Just looked online. The inside of a Queen Bed cannot be any shorter than 60x80 inches. I went about an inch or two extra on each side encase of my own human error.

Step 1: Tools You Will Need

Luckily, you will need very few tools. Just a lot of time and work. Your skill of using a chisel will greatly increase by the end.

-Rubber Mallet (for hitting chisel)

-Chisel (1 inch, 1/2 inch) - new and sharp ones will save you a lot of time

-Saw (I used a hand saw as I did not have a chain saw, but that would make it much easier)

-Power drill (actually is optional, but putting screws in later for support will make it more sturdy and easier in some places). Will also need it for drilling out peg holes

-5 2x4 boards (make sure they are very straight)

-Wood Glue

-Clamps - at least two

- Draw knife (for removing bark)

-Hatchet - used it for removing limbs on the tree

-Lots of sand paper - 60, 120, 220

-Measuring tape


Optional Tools:

Electric Sander - most likely will save you a lot of time. However, the draw knife gets things pretty smooth so you might not need it as much as you think.

Step 2: Finding the Trees

Picture of Finding the Trees

You will need about 2-3 white pine trees. Each should be smaller in size (large, medium, small). Try to make sure they get relatively thin at the top, and not to thick at the bottom.

Remember while searching for your trees. Your "Medium Tree" base, and "Large Tree" base are the beams for you head and foot board. Try not to get anything that will be too heavy to move as a bed.

The "Small" tree and rest of the other two trees become the rails and spindles for the remainder of the bed. You will need more than you think, so get enough from the start or you will need to spend time waiting later for pieces to dry.

In my bed, used a tree that split at the base as my "medium" tree so it wasn't that thick and didn't kill the tree (seen in the picture). I had to cut it with a hatchet as the angle would not allow me to get my saw from the backside.

As for my "large" tree I found one the was a "Y" split not too far up. It was perfect because the bottom section was large enough to be the head board main beams, and the tops of the "Y" were thinner. Sorry I have no pictures here as I didn't bring my phone and it was a hard section of woods to get the tree.

Before transporting, chop off all the limbs. I used a hatchet as it makes quick work of it. However, looking back, cutting them with the saw might have made for easier sanding later as the hatchet left sharp points.

Step 3: Cutting - Still in the Woods

Picture of Cutting - Still in the Woods

Since you cut the trees down, it's easiest to transport them by cutting them. You would recommend cutting them to needed lengths now to save a step later. Lengths are as follows (Queen Bed).

2 x Head Board Beam - 5 feet (thickest beam)

2 x Foot Board Beam - 4 feet

4 x Rails - 88 inches

4 x Connecting rails - 68 inches

10 x Foot and Head Spindles - size varies

8 x Rails Spindles - size varies, ~ 10 inches

As long as you don't cut things too short, you can always estimate or get close and cut them later. Shorter limbs (spindles) are hard to remove bark sometimes, so keep them longer until you know their exact size, which is much later.

Step 4: Removing Bark and Drying

Picture of Removing Bark and Drying

Use your draw knife to remove all the bark. I learned the deeper you pull into the wood, the better the wood grain will show up after sanding.

After you remove all bark, let it dry. I left them in my barn for about 3 weeks and did the job. If you don't let it dry you will have shrinkage in the wood and your measurements will change, joints could loosen, and stain/polyurethane will not take as well. LET IT DRY!!!!

Leaving it out in the sun during the day does help, but don't set it in the grass.

Step 5: The Big Four - Pieces Your Are Building

Picture of The Big Four - Pieces Your Are Building

Keep in mind when you are done building, the bedframe will be 4 main pieces (not including the 2x4 slats). See Pictures above for the four main finished pieces. This will allow you to transport the bed.

2 sides are rails

-Lay out all four of you 88 inch logs. Each side should have a thicker (bottom) and a thinner (top) one. If they are all the same size, not a big deal, but the bottom will be taking all the weight of the bed, so it should be thicker.

Remember, the showing length will be 80 inches, so make sure whatever length you end up making it, you can have 80 inches showing.

-The spindles we will build later, so don't worry about them now.

Head Board Rail

Thicker lower, thinner top (68 inches long)

-if you happen to make these shorter, which you can (64 inches) just make sure they only go 2 inches inside the Main Beams on each side. Remember, the showing length needs to be 60 inches.

-These too should be thicker than the ones used on the Footboard as it is bigger.

Foot Board Rails

Thicker Lower, Thinner top (68 inches). Both will probably be thinner the "Head Board Rails" as it is smaller.

Once you have them all paired, I recommend labeling them. I used a Red Sharpy for "Right", a Blue Sharpy for "Left". I chose left and right as if I were laying in bed (which means facing the footboard). I would then write on the ends, "Top Head", "Bottom Head". Colors told me left or right and I could tell the size difference for Head Rails and Main Rails.

Step 6: Chisel Time - the Rails

Picture of Chisel Time - the Rails

Main Rails: - The 88 Inch Beams

Right now your Main Rails should look like plain pieces of wood. Measure 4 inches in from both ends and mark all the way around.

Now make a mark at 2 inches in from both ends.

Chisel out the rails so that they form a rectangle from the end to the 2 inch mark. Size of rectangle should be about 1.5 inches wide, and 2 inches long.

IMPORTANT!!!! Make sure that your squares are facing the same direction!

Now the remaining two inches should be chiseled as a taper. See image.

Head and Footboard Rails

You can do these as the same as above.

I did a 1 inch square that was 2 inch long. I actually make the square insert go all the way to the end of the rail. I tapered 1 inch from the end to the rail. The taper in this one did not go into the Head/Foot Beams. This is one reason you might want to make these rails 66 or 64 inches so you don't have to chisel in as deep.

Head Board and Foot Board Beams (The Tops of Them)

I chiseled the top to make them look better. You can choose to do this or not. Look at picture to see what I mean.

Step 7: Chisel Out Slots

Picture of Chisel Out Slots

This is something you will get faster at as you have more practice.

I wanted my bottom rail to be 9 inches off the ground. So I made a mark on all four Head and Foot board Beams. Then, to account for error in my chisel work, I traced the rail ends around the spot I need to chisel. After that, it is just hammer and chisel time.

Make sure you keep it square as you chisel down.

Do a lot of checking.

Remember, the main rails need to go in 4 inches, with a wider taper at the two inch mark (this will give it a move of a funnel like entrance with a square hole at the bottom).

For each one, you will need to do a lot of checking, fixing, checking, fixing, until it can go in and out smoothly.

The Head and Foot Rails only need to go in 2 inches, without any taper (maybe a quarter inch just the make it fit better. These ones should be a tighter fit as at some point they will be glued and screwed into place.

Total time for this (16 holes you will be doing) is about 8-14 hours. Towards the end I got fast enough to do in in about 30 minutes, but the first couple took me about an hour each.

Step 8: Measurements

Picture of Measurements

Just so you have a few more measurements in chiseling out the slots, here they are.

Sorry for the bad drawing, hopefully it is not too confusing.

Main Rails

Ground to first(First Main Rail)- 9 inches

Second Main Rail (Ground to Second) starts at 22 inches from the ground.

Head and Foot Board Bottom Rails

Bottom Rail - 14 or 15 inches (depends how close it is to the Main Rails) Make sure they will not connect or your Main Beams will be compromised)

Head Board Top Rail

As high as you want. I went about 4 feet.

Foot Board Top Rail

As high as you want. I went about 35 inches.

Step 9: Sanding

Picture of Sanding

Sand, Sand, and more sand. Pictures above show before and after sanding. At the time of this picture, most of the sanding was done here but not all. Head Board spindles are not done yet either.

By the time you are done, you will be so sick of sanding, you will want to never see sand paper again.

IMPORTANT: If you have an electric sander, I highly recommend you use it as I am sure it will save you a lot of time.

Also, I learned halfway through that taking the draw knife over your wood again before sanding makes it a little easier, as the drying process sometimes makes the wood a little rough.

60 grit, 120 grit, 220 grit.

Total time here 40+ hours

Good news is, here you can jump around to other steps and come back to other sections. You can do thins such as, build the entire footboard before you even start to chisel out the head board pieces. Jumping around here so the sanding doesn't make you want to quit is a good way to go.

Step 10: Rail Spindles

Picture of Rail Spindles

These guys are annoying.

Because the rails change width down the run of a rail, so must your spindles change in size. I kind of did estimations.

You need to cut the spindles about 10 inches long (depending how wide apart you made your Main Rails). You will need to measure these yourself.

Chisel out spindles. I made female and male parts of the spindles round, square would have been easier.

Sand these too.

Chisel out the holes in the Main Rails also. Again, trial and error to make them all fit. Make sure you measure where to place these as they need to be equal distance on bottom and top rails.

Step 11: Head and Footboard Spindles

Picture of Head and Footboard Spindles

These ones are a bit tricky also.

For the Sunray design like I did, you need to find the middle of the Bottom Beams. Place on straight one there, which is to equal to the distance High and Low of the two beams.

The next two spindles (left and right of that), need to be cut at 22.5 degree angles and opposite directions. Refer to my terrible drawing from a few steps ago. These also need to be measured both where to put them and length to make them. I cannot tell you as each bed will be different.

The last piece needs to be at 45 degree angles. These pieces can be the same length.

I chiseled out underneath them a "U" shape so they hugged the log underneath them better for gluing and screwing.

Step 12: Attaching Head and Foot Board Spindles

Picture of Attaching Head and Foot Board Spindles

I chose to screw them in as I was not sure how to chisel at angles.

First I wood glued all the spindle in place and let them dry. Then I went ahead and screwed them in (for the head board my wife help hold them in place and screwed them in while the wood glue was still wet).

Do a larger drill bit at first so the screws can be hidden.

Pre-drill the holes with a small drilled bit to prevent splitting the wood.

Try and put the screws in a location (inside the bed) where they will less likely be seen. Sometimes this cannot be avoided though.

When you are done, fill with wood puddy to hide them.

Note: I slid little slivers of the chisel wastes into gaps with glue and sanded anything left later. I just though this would help with stability, bot really sure though.

Step 13: Slats - 2x4 and Chisel

Picture of Slats - 2x4 and Chisel

You will need 5 or more 2x4. I chose just to use 5 as they fit among the Main Beam Spindles the best.

They will need to be 65 inches give or take a half an inch.

Because the main rails change width, the length of each one will be slightly different. Make sure you label your boards as each on will always go in the same place.

Measure where each on goes in each side. I chose to only go about 3 inches from the Foot Board and Head Board as I want to make sure the Box Spring of the bed didn't want to drop down on the ends.

The other locations were in between the spindles on either side.

You will need to chisel out so the 2x4 drops into the Main Rail and is flushed with surface.

After that is all done, make sure the rails are all level. Then sand them down inside.

Step 14: Stain and Gloss

Picture of Stain and Gloss

If you chose, you main stain and gloss the entire thing. We did. We did two coats of Gloss. I am sure I will get a lot of complaints or questions about more details. I will be happy to answer questions.

For those critics out there.

I made this up in my head as I was life guarding. I am sure there are easier ways. I did not have the tools to make this easier though, and just committed a lot of time.

If anyone makes one, please share it as I would like to see. This was my first big project and had not really any prior experience beforehand so this is possible for any skill level. Just take you time and think about your steps before you move on.


Step 15: Stability

Picture of Stability

I realized that if the bed gets motion to it, the Main Rails might eventually slide out. Not a good thing.

What you will need:

-1/2 Poplar Wood Dowel

-1/2 Drill Bit

Drill through the Head/Foot Board Beams so that the drills drills through the middle of the chiseled section of the Main Beams. Then you can slide the wood dowel through those holes to lock them in place. Make sure that you will be able to take them out in the future or you might never get your bed apart!


MichaelB271 (author)2015-11-20

Well here is the final product i pretty much followed your guidelines did a cpl things different but pretty much the same

MichaelB271 made it! (author)2015-11-12

You were right alot of hard work but i think it will b worth it still some more sandi g amd staining to do but its together

ahilker (author)MichaelB2712015-11-13

Hey that is looking awesome! I love the knots in the wood. Great addition! Wish I had those as they look really good. Depending on the look you want, you might not even need to sand. Sometimes the more rustic look is the way to go! And it is definitely worth the work, buying a bed like that would cost you over $1000.

After creating this, I learned that belt sanders are the way to go. I am currently making a crib for our soon-to-be son, and although I incorporated more store-bought lumber (just used the main beams as tree branches) belt sander made sanding take a day instead of weeks.

Keep up the nice work! I want to see the end product.

MichaelB271 (author)ahilker2015-11-13

If i may ask what color of stain did u use and how many coats of polyurethane

ahilker (author)MichaelB2712015-11-14

Sure. I used "Golden Oak" stain, one coat. Polyurethane I did 2 coats of high gloss type. We liked it shiny.

lindas10 (author)2015-05-02

I will be attempting this project. How beautiful this bed is. Your wife is lucky! My husband is retired and just reads books. Lol. I love the work you did!!

Muhaiminah Faiz (author)2014-10-06

I love anything rustic. Excellent work! I would love to make one though it might take years for me to build one.

AJH532 (author)2014-10-02

Wow! This is just beautiful. Even though it took a long time to build, it is every bit as lovely as anything I've seen in stores. And, it should last you a long, long time.

Your steps are well-photographed, too. Thank you for that! Great job.

TFsLady (author)2014-09-30

This is absolutely beautiful!!! I am going to see if I can get my hubby to build this for us. He is quite handy. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

ahilker (author)TFsLady2014-10-01

You are very welcome. I am sure he can do it, it was easier than I thought it would be. If he does, share the pictures, I would love to see how others turn out!

TFsLady (author)ahilker2014-10-01

Ok will do!

Mrchips (author)2014-10-01

You did good!

I am sure you learned a lot as you did this. I know I did when I made similar projects over 30 years ago.

You will discover that the amount of drying time that is mentioned in your article is insufficient to totally dry the wood, and your joints will loosen as the wood drys completely.

I found that by using bolts and washers at major joints, I could tighten things up as the wood dries.

ahilker (author)Mrchips2014-10-01

I haven't noticed anything yet, but I imagine you are correct. Most places suggested more. I did put it upstairs in a hot barn and a lot of the beams had the drying cracks in them (non very bad though). I probably would have waited longer but I needed it done before we moved into our new house as it was going to be our bed once we moved. Hopefully the wood glue and screws will keep the joints tight enough.

bongodrummer (author)2014-10-01

oooo. Very nice job, beautiful result. I would consider more slats though - when I made a bed I looked into it and most mattress manufactures recommend a minimum distance between slats, in order for the mattress to last... It's usually not much, like 3" or so.

ahilker (author)bongodrummer2014-10-01

That is a good point. Because of the way I did the rails though, it wouldn't have been easy to fit too many slats in, but I could have easily fit at least two more.

I also thought, a little to late, that the large gaps in the headboard makes it easy for our pillows to fall between while we are sleeping. So far it hasn't been a problem and hopefully will stay that way. But for someone who is to build one, might want to keep that in mind.

MamaSmurf5000 (author)ahilker2014-10-01

Do it the easy way like I a body pillow that stretches along the head of the bed. I keeps the other pillows from going through the headboard better. Simple solution for a beautiful bed.

ahilker (author)MamaSmurf50002014-10-01

Awesome idea!!! Never even thought of that. Will be doing that. Thanks for the great tip!

pasuma (author)2014-09-30

Truely a work of Art. I have this amazing drift wood collection from the West Coast, NZ that would fill a shipping container! Maybe I should attempt something like this. Thanks for sharing

ahilker (author)pasuma2014-09-30

That sounds awesome. Driftwood would make a very unique and amazing looking furniture piece. If you do, be sure to share it as I would love to see pictures!

pasuma (author)ahilker2014-09-30

Actually, it will be quite awhile. Having limited experience in building stuff, not a mere woman though!..and plenty of people wanting to set fire to my collection, its well and truly under cover. But seeing what you have made is very inspiring, and I would have this bed over any other flash bed in a store. I will let you know how things evolve...and thanks

Lindie (author)2014-09-30

Beautiful. Great craftsmanship!

Chuck Stephens (author)2014-09-30

Great project! It was well documented and the pictures were awesome.

ahilker (author)Chuck Stephens2014-09-30

Thank you!

baecker03 (author)2014-09-28

tree beard disapproves

ahilker (author)baecker032014-09-29

Well let him know I removed the weak to allow the strong to grow stronger.

tjdux (author)2014-09-27

One thing to help with the female side of round spindles would be a spade bit or forstner bit. They would have saved you some of the hand chiseling and are not too terribly expensive. Another thing is a hole saw for the drill to make nice round circles and then chisel out the material inside of the hole.

I did look at actual tenon and jeez they are high dollar. There are some guides out there for making homemade ones if your working towards making more rustic furniture. It seems you have the right natural resources for it and that stuff sells good at flea markets and fairs. Check out this homemade tenon cutter, its a little ways down the page (something I found, not made).

ahilker (author)tjdux2014-09-29

Awesome! Thanks for that. When I first started I thought about buying a tenon and jeez but saw they were way out of my price range. Never thought about making my own or seeing what other people did. I will be starting a matching nightstand in a few months here (when I get the time). I will see what I can do to try out these suggestions to make my life easier. Thanks again!

cjdeere (author)2014-09-28

Looks like you did a really good job! I like building things with logs should be very proud of your work...Great Job!!!

ahilker (author)cjdeere2014-09-29

Thank you. I find it fun to work with the raw materials like logs. I am very happy how this one turned out and I'm looking forward to starting my next project!

TrollFaceTheMan (author)2014-09-27

Love the Craftsmanship :) If only I had a place to put one of thees...


dimmaz88 (author)2014-09-27

Nice work, looks very 'Twin Peaksy' :)

SomePolishGuy (author)2014-09-26

Ah yes, If the bed gets motion to it :) might make the thank you time more exciting, though probably better in the long run you added those dowels. Great instructable.

JM1999 (author)2014-09-26

You are a finalist and this didn't even get featured!

Very rarely does that happen, nice job!

ahilker (author)JM19992014-09-26

I was surprised at first too. But I did get featured about an hour after your comment. I'm glad you like it and glad other people can build it and enjoy them too.

JM1999 (author)ahilker2014-09-26

Yes, I saw that!

I'm very happy for you!

YPF (author)2014-09-26

Amazing job. All by hand, I'm really impressed.

ahilker (author)YPF2014-09-26

Thanks! It's not that I wanted to do it all by hand, but I didn't have all the tools I needed and the few I did I couldn't figure out how to use them in the way I needed. Hammer and chisel seemed to work the best.

Wow, this is gorgeous!


MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-09-13

*whistle* that looks like it was a lot of work, nice job! It turned out really lovely! Thanks for sharing!

Thanks. It was a lot of work but well worth it. Now I need to find another project to start!

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