Introduction: Waterbed

About: Mad Scientist at large While this is rather difficult to explain, without sounding like a late night commercial, all I can say is that I'm just me. My on-line web comic. If you're interested in swords & sor…

Ok, I'l' admit - back in middle school & High school I slept on this wonderful creation called a waterbed. THE most comfortable thing I've ever slept on. Full wave, queen sized, with satin sheets. So I've decided to do a bit of time traveling, as it were, and decided to catalog my journey, and bring you guys along with me.

Somewhere in the late 80's or early 90's the waterbed fell out of favor. And by the fourth time of me moving, mine finally sprang a huge leak. This was before our modern convenience(?) of the internet, so I couldn't easily find a replacement mattress for my waterbed, so I decided that it was time to let the waterbed go.

It received full honors during it's funeral.

Advance somewhere around twenty years (or so) to our current time. I decided that the glory days needed revisiting, so just out of curiosity I started research waterbeds and why they fell off of society's radar. Several articles and many hours later, I found a place in California that still produced everything that you needed for a waterbed. Taking this as a sign from the digital gods, I then headed on over to Amazon, finding all the pieces at a better price.

I then decided to jump in feet first, and build myself another waterbed. And here is what happened ....

Step 1: Planning

Here is where one needs to decide what size of bed they want, what kind of mattress they want, and the over-all design of the bed - and the headboard. I settled on a king size, because why not? If I'm going with this idea, I'm going all out.

Next I had to design the pedestal, frame and headboard. My queen sized waterbed had the drawers underneath, in the pedestal - I never really used them, and they were a waste of space. While I do believe in utilizing all available space, I just decided to go with a simple supporting platform. I even decided to make it recessed, so the bed would look like it was floating above the floor. Time will only tell if this was a good idea or not ....

As you can see from the above images, (1) the USA still uses SAE measurements, and (2) I bounced around several different ideas.

With the design settled upon, next was to acquire the necessary lumber ....

Step 2: Materials and Tools

Materials needed:

  • mattress (whichever size desired)
  • heater unit (with control module)
  • liner (to match the mattress size)
  • fill & drain kit
  • waterbed conditioner
  • lumber (for platform, frame & headboard)
  • fastners - construction screws

Tools Need:

Since I'm building the platform, frame and headboard myself, we'll be needing some power tools, and minor woodworking skills (at least)

  • skill saw
  • carpenter's square
  • speed square (with 45 degree side)
  • cordless drill
  • cordless impact driver
  • sanding sponges

Lumber Used:

A quick trip to the local hardware and lumber supply -

  • 2x10x10's = 10 pieces

Scrap pieces:

  • 23/32" sub-flooring
  • 1/4" smooth plywood (headboard backing)


I decided to paint the bed the same color as the trim in my bedroom - plain old charcoal gray.

Step 3: Prepping the Lumber

This part is going to depend upon your chosen design and size. Since I decided on a king size floating platform bed, I cut a lot of 45 degree angles ..... a lot.

Step 4: Platform

The platform is pretty simple - just put all the pieces that you cut together. Just make sure you include enough support for the mattress (a king size holds around 235 gallons, which is equal to about 2000 lbs.) I used 3' decking screws to hold everything together. You also will want to paint/stain/finish this as you go. I figured this would be easier than trying to after it was all assembled.

Step 5: Framing

As simple as building the platform, maybe more so. I had some OSB sub-flooring left over from older projects, so that became the sheeting for this part. Aside from the sheeting pieces, there's only four pieces of 2x10 to assemble here. I left enough room in the framing for the headboard to easily be attached later. And again, paint/stain/finish as you go.

Step 6: Headboard

As you can see in the sketches, I fiddled around with a headboard design for a bit. I finally settle on using some old 2x4's and 2x6's that I had, and using the 1/4" plywood as a backer. I'll have to apologize here, as I failed to take any photos while in construction. I also used some old 1x2's as trim on the upper inside areas.

Step 7: Extra Features

So, I went all out on a king sized full-wave waterbed. Why stop there? Why not use some old electronic that I have laying around and pimp this out? Yeah babee!!!

Materials Used-

  • ATX 20 pin computer PSU (300 watt)
  • Car stereo/AM/FM/CD/USB/AUX/BT etc. etc.
  • old Sony speakers (four for surround sound)
  • A three-in-one 12v outlet (like this one)
  • 18 gauge speaker wire
  • 16 gauge wire wire (for the PSU connections and such)

I was so excited about this part that I failed, yet again, to photograph
the construction process. However, there are a couple of Instructables here that can get you up to speed -

Here and here....

I used an ATX 20 pin power supply. I used pin 10, the +12 v yellow wire as the main power for the car stereo, the purple +5 v standby wire for the constant power (for the radio's clock and memory). However, instead of just connecting pin 14, the green wire, to a ground for constant power, I connect it to a rocker switch (that way I can turn the whole unit off if I want/need).

For the volt meter/USB charger/12 volt charger, I used one side of a +12 v ATX 4 pin connector. The other side is connected to the electronic shotgun lock (old piece of equipment that was just sitting around in the attic, begging for something to do).

This gives my waterbed the ability to play music and audio books, to charge two cell phones at once, and power whatever 12 volt electronic that you desire (???). AND - you've got some home security within easy grasp, that is secured from any one that is unaware of the secret switch for it's release.

But wait! There's more ........

Step 8: The Light Show

I haven't wired this into the PSU yet, but I put an RGB LED strip of lights underneath the bed. With them on, it seems like it's floating on a glowing cloud .....(well, something like that).

Materials used -

  • RGD LED IR Strip (Like this one)
  • plastic wire stables (like these)

This is a step that I should've though of while I was building the platform (*le sigh*). Because I didn't plan that far ahead, I had to crawl on my stomach and drill holes through the 45 degree braces holding the mattress sheeting, in order to thread the LED strip through. Ten minutes later (and a dust free floor), problem solved.

So, my waterbed time machine can double as a disco light show to boot. Pretty snazzy if I say so myself.

Furniture Contest 2018

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Furniture Contest 2018