Step 1: Step 1: Get Some Posts and Knobs
Step 2: Step 2: Footboard, Rails and Headboard
The rails are more scrap I had, with grooves cut to match the grooves in the posts and headboard, footboard. This groove will hold the plywood panel that supports the foam mattress.
Step 3: Step 3: Dowels, Glue and Clamping
Marking your parts with T for top, L for left, R for right, bottom front, etc. is a great way to make sure you don't get holes in the wrong spot. Remember, you're building a model or puzzle you will have to assemble later, so keep a good eye on your layout.
Once the pieces are glued together, and you are satisfied with the alignment, go ahead and clamp these together and let the glue set.
Step 4: Step 4: Bedrails and Squaring It Up
I couldn't fit the long rails under my drill press, so I clamped them to the deck of my table saw, and used my power drill to drill the dowel holes. The level on the drill helps, but isn't perfect. Slow and steady, careful drilling ensures proper alignment.
The plywood panel that supports the foam mattress will NOT be glued in, it will free float in the grooves along the inside of the bed, by about 1/4 inch on all sides. This is to allow for any expansion or contraction based on humidity. Much like a cabinet door or drawer.
Once the holes are drilled, you can test fit the bed together to check for alignment. Once happy, glue and clamp. As I apply pressure to the clamps, I go ahead and check for square with my machinist's square, adjusting as I increase pressure on the clamps.
Step 5: Step 5: Bedknobs and Boomsticks
I have to drill out the knobs a bit to accept the 1/4 inch dowels, and also drill the tops of the bed posts. I'd like to do this with a boomstick, but I think that would yield too many splinters.
Once that's done, glue it all together and remove any excess glue.
Step 6: Step 6: Sand and Finish
I chose a gel polyurethane stain and sealer that I used to do the shelf and ceiling rails on Samantha's room, so the bed would match the look of her room.
One note, if you have glue that got on the wood and you didn't remove it quickly with a damp rag, you will get spots where the stain doesn't work. That's ok if you "pre weather" the bed like I plan on doing, with some sandpaper. So it doesn't hurt when my daughter is rough on it.
Step 7: Step 7: Mattress
My wife Katie will sew up a mattress cover for it, and the blanket to match.
Step 8: Step 8: Enjoy!
My daughter Samantha has already put it to good use, and seems to enjoy it. I would say this was a very satisfying and successful gift that she will be able to use for a long time, and possibly hand it down to her kids when the time comes.
Making something that lasts is very gratifying. The fact that it was quite inexpensive was icing on the cake.
Thanks for reading!