Introduction: 21st Century Bed

This bed is a traditional design with some very un-traditional functionality. The Hidden LED lighting in the crown molding are obvious, but the 6 USB ports on the top shelf and sides of the head board are built into its frame and unless a charging cable is inserted you would probably not notice them.

The majority of the construction uses red oak with mahogany raised panels in the head and foot boards. The feet are also curved outward to add some additional detail and also match a previously built dresser. The mattress support is constructed in a way to maximize storage underneath the bed yet still be very firm and light.

Step 10 where I start talking about the electronics integration if that's that part that interests you the most.

I hope you enjoy this instructable, it took my 3 weeks to make this working mainly on the weekends and about 1/2 of the week nights. The majority of the pictures were captured from my Go-Pro Camera so I apologize in advance for some of the dark and grainy shots.


Step 1: Design

I started this project my measuring our current mattress and box spring. I measured the width, length, depth and seated height and started the design from that point. My instructions from the Wife was to make it match a dresser I made for her a couple years back so I put a quick sketch on paper that she liked, then I used "Sketch-Up" to render a 3D model so I could see if the proportions and everything looked right.

Step 2: Getting Wood

You can spend a lot of money or save a lot of money in this step if you follow a couple simple rules.

1. Be flexible with your design.

My original design has 2" square legs and 1.5" thick head/foot boards, but when I got to the lumber yard and saw what they had in stock I knew things had to change. The 8/4 and 6/4 would not get me the size I needed (I'm not sure why I thought it would now that I think back on it because 4/4 stock is usually used to make finished 3/4" boards) so my legs and head/foot boards got 1/4 skinnier.

2. Go to a lumber yard not a big box store. Depending on your location you can find rough sawn red oak from $1 to $4 a board foot at lumber yards and they can plane it down to whatever size you need for a nominal fee if you don't own a planer/jointer. I might be worth a road trip to find a really good lumber yard/mill. I was fortunate when I live in Ohio that I could drive 45 minutes to Frank Miller Mills and get great lumber at close to wholesale prices. Now that I live in southern CA it's more expensive (everything is) but we still have good yards like the Bonhoff lumber company.

Step 3: Preparing Your Wood

If you have the time and space you should let the wood you buy acclimate and dry out for as long as possible. This will let the wood find its natural shape. You don't have to wait forever because even if you do there are residual internal stresses in the wood that will get released when you start cutting it to its final shape.

When ready you'll want to do some preventative cleaning and inspecting of the wood to make sure there are no staples, nails, stones or other debris in the wood that can damage the blades on your tools. So give it a good once over with a wire brush and eyeball all six sides before you start cutting.

In a perfect world I would own a 12" wide jointer and I would start by jointing the concave face of the board until flat then use my planer to make the board parallel. Sine most don't have that luxury the next best thing is feeding the boards concave down through the planer on the 1st pass. The in/out feed tables will help take some of the bow out (if any) of the boards. Continue running them through the planer making sure you fully support the boards when feeding them into and catching as they come out of the planer. This will help minimize any "snipe" that will occur when the board passes the feed rollers. When you are on your final passes for each side run it through the planer a 2nd time without adjusting the depth and offset from the previous pass. This will give it a "Spring Cut" or very light cut and also offset any nicks that you plane blades might have.

The smother the finish you planer give you the less sanding you'll have to do later, so it is time well spent.

Once planed to thickness you'll run the edge of the board concave down on the jointer, flipping it end for end between each pass until the edge is straight.

Take that straight edge and place it against the fence of your table saw and cut it to the final width + a little bit for one last pass on the jointer (my little bit is 1/32").

Step 4: Making Panels

If the look you're going for is a single piece of wood, then cut all of the boards you're going to glue up out of one board. It sounds obvious, but when you're trying to minimize scrap it may be easier said than done.

Once you're happy with how the grain matches at the joints make them so you don't lose the order. I used biscuits more for alignment than strength in this applications since they are just floating panels.

When I glue up panels I try to get just a little glue to squeeze out and I leave it on the panel for about 30 minutes to firm up before I come back later to scrape it off.

This technique helps keep the glue out of porous woods so if you did want to stain the project you wouldn't see the color difference.

Step 5: Curved Feet

The design of this bed has feet that curve outward. Instead of getting a large 3" square block and cutting it from that I used some 2" stock and glued on some additional material where they curve outward.

It was very important that I use material from the same piece of wood so the color and grain match as close as possible. When I glued the extra blocks on I made sure the grain direction and width match the leg.

After it dried overnight I rough cut the shape on the band saw making sure to sequence the cuts so there was support on the table so the blade wouldn't pull the foot down and swing the leg up out of my hand.

Once the rough shape was cut I smoothed it to the final shape using an oscillating spindle sander, but a random orbit sander would have done the trick as well.

I finished down to 120 grit paper leaving 220 grit for hand sanding for after everything is assembled.

Step 6: Rails and Stiles

The next part is the rails and stiles that make up the head/foot board.

I cut all of the pieces to their final size and then setup a dado cutter in my table saw to make the panel groves and later the tenons that are used to join everything together.

The rails and stiles are 2" wide and 1.25" thick and I want the grove to have a 1/2" reveal on the panel side.

I set up a feather board on my table saw to keep the pieces of wood firmly against the fence to keep the 1/2" wide by 1/2" deep grove perfectly straight.

I run all of the pieces through once I'm happy with my test piece.

I then cut the tenons on the ends of the stiles as well as the ends of the rails and the length of the outside stiles since there will be a dado grove in the legs that will receive them. Many test cuts were performed to get the correct alignment and fit between the tenons and the grove. Time spent making this alignment perfect will make it look a lot better and keep you from having to sand and blend the joint transition.

The next morning I finished up with my dado blade by cutting groves in the legs that will receive the panel sections of the head/foot boards.

There is some hand work cleaning up the ends with a hammer and chisel to get a nice square corner in the grove.

Step 7: Panels

Next is cutting the raised panels. The wood I'm using is a species of mahogany called Sapele. It's relatively cheap ($5 a board foot for 4/4 rough sawn)

I used my home made cross cut sled but you could use a saw with a straight edge clamp.

Once cut to their final size (3/8" less than the grove they will be going into) I ran a quick test piece to make sure the panel will fit into the groves. You'll want it to feel a little lose since you'll be putting 3-4 coats of finish on the panels.

Before running the panels through the shaper I used the table saw to trim away as much as possible so as to minimize the work the cutter has to do on the shaper.

Just like any other router table work, I run the panel through on the end grain side first then rotate clockwise finishing the other three sides. This will eliminate any chip out since the last pass will be with the grain.

Once happy with the edge thickness all around the panels I sand, sand, then sand some more always with the grain.

When I'm finished sanding all the way down to 220 grit I "Pre-finish" the panels with 2-3 coats of finish. This protects the edges of the panels that will be in the groves as well as prevents any bare spots when the panel eventually shrinks(and it will).

Step 8: Bed Rails

I cut the mortises for the bed rails using my plunge router and a template I cut out on the router table. The opening in the template is 1/4" wider and longer than the mortise I need because I'm using a 1/2" straight cutting bit with a 3/4" OD guide bushing. I take 4 passes 1/4" at a time to get to the full 1" depth.

For the rails themselves I use a 1/4" round over on all sides so it doesn't dig into my legs when I'm getting out of bed, and it also has the added bonus of saving me the time and effort of squaring off the mortise corners.

Counter bore the legs with a forstner bit so the nuts would be sub-flush then drill the through hole. Using a transfer punch I individually located the hole locations in the rail bolts.

Instead of using a hanger bolt I used some all thread and tapped about 1.5" into the end of the rails (this saved me about $5 and the potential for splitting the end of the rails when screwing in the hanger bolts).

After all of the woodworking was done and cleaned up I got the welder out and added 3 tabs to a piece of 1/8" X 1.25" angle iron. These tabs are later drilled and countersunk so the whole piece can be screwed onto the rails flush with the bottom edge. The tabs help distribute the load across the whole bed rail, not just the bottom where it could potentially split and only have an inch of bed rail supporting it instead of 7".

Step 9: Top Shelves and Crown

Next I bevel the underside of the tops shelves for the head and foot boards using the same raised panel cutter I used to make the raised panels. I join the foot board shelf to the foot board using biscuits and glue.

The shelf for the head board is attached with pocket screws so I can take it off if needed to get to the electronics that are behind the crown molding.

Crown molding, if you haven't noticed is really expensive. $20 or more for a 8' piece is not uncommon. Since I couldn't find unfinished oak crown in my local big box stores (no surprise) I used a crown molding bit in my shaper. Setup takes a long time, and even when everything is perfect you still have a lot of sanding, so maybe $20 is worth it if you can find it. Standard miter techniques are used to make the outside corner joints.

Step 10: Now the Fun Begins

The fun part of this bed is the integral electronics built into the structure. When everything is finished is has as close to a traditional bed look as possible, but all of the modern touches we want.

I'm using gutted car cigaret lighter to USB adapters and running all of the wiring back to a central location with a 12 volt power supply.

The face plates for the USB plug-ins are made using an inlay bit and templates I made using plywood and printing some out with my 3D printer. Once all of the inserts are cut out (plus extras just in case) I cut them free using the band saw. I cut the inserts out of the same piece of wood that the legs were cut from so the color and grain will match.

I perform a continuity check to make sure nothing has broken in the process of running the wires and mounting the plugin. I used some packing tape to help protest the electronics and used play-doh to get the correct depth.

Step 11: LED Lighting

In preparation for the LED lighting some 1/2" by 2" spacer blocks were used to create the gap between the headboard frame and the crown molding that the light will shine through. I cut and polished 2 pieces of aluminum that will act as the touch points for controlling the lights.

The LED lighting was just some cheap stuff you can get off of Amazon for $15 for a 25' roll. I soldered the wiring to the ends and did a quick check to make sure everything worked.

All of the wiring is connected and run down a grove in the back of the headboard. This grove is 1/4" wide by 1/2" deep and will be covered with a strip of oak so you don't see any wires at all.

The bottom side of the top shelf is painted satin white to help reflect and diffuse the LED lighting. Note that you can't see the LED strips while laying in the bed since they are attached to the back side of the crown molding.

Step 12: The Electronic Guts

The guts that make everything work are 3 USB car adapters, Make sure you get the once that can charge 2 amps or more per plug. That makes these adapters 60 watts total plus the LED lights which are less than 10watts. The power supply I got was a el-cheapo one off of amazon and was rated for 120 watts at 12v output, 110-220 volt input.

I did a lot of searching and finally found some touch sensors on Amazon that work at 12 volts (most are 120v.)

Everything is housed in a custom 3D printed box that has supports built in to hold all of the electronic boards as well as hold a junction bar that everything screws into.

All of the wiring is covered with splines that are just friction fit into the groves and the varnish is the only real glue. This was on purpose just in case I need to fix anything or upgrade the electronics in the future when we no longer use USB to charge our personal electronic devices.

Step 13: The Final Bits

The last ting I did was make a "Box Spring" using some 1/4" plywood, 3/4" spacers, nails and a lot of glue.

The finish I used is a Minwax waterborne semi-gloss polyurethane. 2" synthetic fine bristle brush for all coats. After the 1st coat on raw wood I sand with 220 to knock down all of the grain that raises up due to the water in the finish. After the 2nd coat I do another light sanding with 220 to get anything I missed and spot sand any drips or runs. I Put at least 4 coats total to give a durable finish. Use light coats, this is extremely important if the surface you're finishing is not horizontal because you'll most likely get runs in the finish.

Step 14: Finished Project

This is the final product with the mattress and and quilt (Thanks Mom!)

You can see there are loads of room underneath to store junk.

Looking up you get a soft glow and plenty of light to read a book or use you personal electronic devices.

Lastly you can see the dresser I built about 5 years ago with the same style, curved feet, oak and Sapele construction.

It only took 5 years to get off my butt and build it but if my Wife's reaction was real, it was worth the wait.

I hope you enjoy this instructable as much as we enjoy our new bed.

Thanks for viewing.

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