Introduction: Palette Bed

About: Whacky bioengineer during the week and woodworking weekend warrior.

I love how reclaimed wood has surfaced into popular home décor. It just goes to show that nice things need not be expensive, nor made of expensive material. Another man's trash is can be your treasure.

Note: this is an entry for the reclaimed wood contest. If you like, and think I deserve it, a vote would be appreciated :)

The bed sit on a box spring in this case. The reasons were simple, I already owned a box spring and didn't see why I should throw it out or worse, let it take up very valuable space in the garage where I could be storing wood and tools. Second reason less exciting reason, the warranty on the mattress would be invalidated if it wasn't resting on the that same companies box spring... (not of fan of these scams). It also saves me a few dollars which I can then spend on other projects :P Nonetheless, a frame for the mattress could easily be added should your heart desire. Instructables for bed frames exist and are great.

Ok let's get started. There is a pdf attachment detailing all the dimensions. If you're savvy, it's all you'll need. If not, read on!

The palettes here are pretty hard to find: they're 68"x68". I got lucky. So you may need to modify the design accordingly. And alternative is to buy the lowest quality spruce at your local store and cut it to the appropriate size. Finally, you can also do things like drag a paint can across the wood, smack it chains, etc to give it a more worn out appearance. We did not use that technique and had a relatively smooth surface while staining.

Materials (in no particular order)

- 1-1/4" #8 screws

- 2 68" palettes (or see above)

- Metal L bracket, 48"

- Strong/thick tissue to protect your box spring when you slide it into the frame. Should be capable of producing 2 strips of 80" by 11" and two strips of 60" by 11"

- Wood stain: we used English chestnut from Minwax (C)

- Staples that fit your heavy-duty stapler

- White ceiling paint: use leftovers from your previous painting projects, it doesn't need to be good quality

- White vinegar

- Steel wool (000-extra fine grade)

- Quart sized Mason jar

- Instant coffee (2 tbsp only)


- Square (composite or other)

- Sander (belt sander ideally) or thickness planer + sander

- Hammer (for disassembly of one palette)

- Miter saw or table saw with crosscut sled

- Drill with drill bits and driving bits. Also metal drill bits.

- Hacksaw with blade intended for metal

- Heavy duty stapler

So if your wondering why all the added expensive and effort of using a metal L-bracket, that's because the corners of the box spring are round. And we can make a nice, snug, tight fitting frame around the box spring, but will have little space to attach the pieces at the corner without it either being done on the outside, or requiring more space. The L-bracket solved both those issues.

Step 1: Dismantle and Sand

Fill your quart size mason jar with vinegar and add 2 tbsp of instant coffee and your 000-extra fine grade steel wool. Mix and let sit for at least 24hrs. You will use this later

Dismantle one of the two palettes. I would recommend waiting to cut them down to size. Just because bad things happen to good pieces when dismantling and sanding, so keep them all full length until step 3.

To dismantle, use the hammer, and good luck. Go progressively, raising the board off all 3 points of attachment slightly before going back over and raising them again. If you hope to remove the piece from the left end entirely without removing the centre or right end, you will definitely snap your piece. Also, removing the nails is rather difficult as they're usually dug in there. It is easier, or at least it was for me, to remove the board and then remove the nails from the board.

Take out your roughest sand paper for your (preferably) belt sander (thought orbital would work too). I started with 32 grit, and worked my up to 120 grit. Make sure you get the sides as well. This is the longest part, but chin up, you'll be able to sleep in this bed frame when your done.
For the pieces you dismantled, you could send the through a planer and get the long grain done real quick. Just make sure you triple checked for screws or nails; there are strays that sometimes go unnoticed until it ruins a blade. Which is too sad to let happen. Certain stud finders have a feature for detecting these.

Step 2: Measure Out and Cut the Pieces

Note that the 1x4s seen in the pdf were not necessary afterall and we did not use them. It can be interesting though should you choose to do it so we left it in the pdf as it is very easy to omit.

Start by choosing you favourite look. Which ends you want to cut off, which you want to keep, which you want to throw away.

The choose which sides you want facing outside, or towards the viewer, when entering the bedroom. Give them a chalk mark.

The lengths can be found in the pdf.

Here I was trying to see if I could keep a lot of bark on the outside of the bed frame. Turns out it gets really dusty, doesn't stain, and doesn't look as good as one might hope. So hopefully everyone can learn from this.

Step 3: Drill Pilot and Clearance Holes, Countersink, Then Screw

Note that the 1x4s screwed into the 2x4s seen in the pdf were not necessary afterall and we did not use them. It can be interesting though should you choose to do it so we left it in the pdf as it is very easy to omit.

Screw the spliced boards on the 2x4 pieces as seen in the pdf. To make a more uniform (and possibly stronger) structure, one 2x4 area has only 1 or 2 boards being spliced, with the other(s) being longer and spliced at the following 2x4. For example, top and bottom board are spliced while the middle board runs until the next 2x4 section. At the next section only the middle board will be spliced. The exception is of course the corners, they receive all 3 boards, but it is not called splicing in this case.

It seems to be an overlooked step in many cases. Pilot and clearance holes make for nice, screwing without splintering or splitting. In the case of reclaimed wood, this is even more important, as it tends to be soft, of variable humidity, and contain knots galore. Plus, it's good practice and a good habit to develop.

Drill a pilot hole so that you start on the face that is not seen, and let the drill bit go through to the other side which is seen. The reason for this is that the splintering cause by the drill bit exiting the wood can be neatly corrected by countersinking which you are going to be doing later. Do this according to the plans provided. Once all the pilot holes are done, proceed to lining up the pieces with their corresponding pieces and continuing the pilot hole down into the piece by only a little, ~ 1/4" is fine. You really only need to get the screw started.

Now all the pieces which will be receiving a screw can be expanded into clearance holes. Why not do clearance holes in the first place you ask? Because when you drill the pilot hole in the receiving piece with a smaller bit in a bigger hole, you won't be able to centre it. And when the screw goes in, it will move the piece with it. All that lining up will be lost.

Now you can countersink the clearance holes.

Finally, screw in the screws!

Step 4: Cut and Drill L Bracket

Cut four 11" pieces of your steel L bracket with your hacksaw fitted with an appropriate blade for metal. Use fine sandpaper to soften the sharp edges that result from cutting. Where gloves when sanding the sharp edges. On one side of each piece L-bracket, drill 3 holes for the bolts. On the other side of each piece, drill 6 holes for your screws.

Step 5: Test Assembly & Bolt Hole Placement

Make sure everything fits nicely, can be squared up properly, and make necessary corrections. You want to do this before staining. Making corrections on finished wood is guaranteed to leave at least one dent/scratch in your stain. Then again, this is reclaimed wood, so I guess that doesn't matter as much this time around. It is always a good habit to have nonetheless.

Now you are going to place those L-brackets, and drill the clearance hole for the bolts and the T-nuts. So make triple-extra-150% sure that everything is level and square. Once those holes are made, there's no going back.

Make hole of appropriate size for T-nut in the headboard, hammer in lightly, and then screw in a bolt. This will finish the T-nut for you.

Make holes for the bolts in the foot of the bed.

Now disassemble, because you can move on to staining and finishing!

Step 6: Stain Reclaimed Wood a Lil Differently

Here we used English Chestnut stain from Minwax. Follow their directions on the can with two exceptions: after applying, immediately wipe off without letting it soak in doing small sections at a time. Also we used a thin layer.

The reason for this is that palette wood, or reclaimed wood in many cases, tends to be spruce (at least in my area) or another softwood which will absorb stain quickly, and a lot of it. We found that really rubbing in a thin layer and wiping off really let the grain show a lot more. It became rather opaque in our tests if we let it sink in or left it on too long. Our first attempt looked more like paint than it did stain, so we experimented and found this method to work better. Let me know if you found other great ways of getting good stain on palette wood!

Step 7: Dry Paint Sporadically

Dry paint is similar to painting. Using a big paper or plastic plate, plastic container lid, or simply a piece of cardboard, spread a small dab of white paint all over it. Spread and paint your plate/lid/cardboard until it's thin, dry, and almost flaky in texture. Then put on some music and pretend your Jackson Pollock haha. Paint strokes, dabs, lightly, intensely, generally have yourself a good time until you get something like you see in the picture.

Step 8: Steel Wool Sanding and Coffee Staining

Take a second piece of steel wool (one that did not spend at least a night in the vinegar coffee mixture) and pretend it's sand paper. Sporadically sand it, not so much as to remove all white paint, but enough to make it look old and rustic without evident brush strokes. The first picture shows the post-steel wool sanding result.

These white parts are what are going to absorb some of the coffee-vinegar stain which you can now apply. The second picture I attached is immediately after applying the coffee-vinegar mix. As you can see, the white will disappear after you wet it with the coffee stain. Don't panic, it will dry and return with a nice rustic colour.

Step 9: Cut & Staple Tissue, Assemble!

Cut tissue into 11" strips, long enough so they go from L-bracket to L-bracket, (so just short of 78" twice, and then about 58") along the bed bed frame and protect your box spring from splinters and aid it in sliding in comfortably.

Staple one side along L-bracket, pull tight against the second bracket, and staple again. The staple along the top and bottom the whole way. Repeat on all sides.

Now you can assemble. You already did this once, so there should be no surprises when doing it in your bedroom. Make sure it's squared properly in all directions. Measure your diagonals if you need to. This plan is designed to fit snug around your box spring, and be relatively strong. Forcing your box spring into it will not square it for you, rather, it will destroy your box spring. But if you did it right during the test assembly, you'll be just fine.

You worked hard, you can now take a nap in your beautiful bed frame with you loyal companion: the canines. You deserve it.

Reclaimed Wood Contest 2016

Participated in the
Reclaimed Wood Contest 2016