I decided I wanted a cool modern bed. So I made one, and this is how. But a couple of notes before we begin.
1. I apologize that all of the pictures in this Instructable (sans the finished ones) were taken with a mediocre phone camera.
2. I am not a master carpenter and pretty much only know what I learned from my dad and watching Bob Vila and Norm from New Yankee Workshop. With that in mind, if I can do this, you can probably do this, and better than I can.
3. I was looking for a modern sunken platform bed that wasn't too crazy looking or crazily expensive. I couldn't find it, so I just figured I'd try it out and see if I could build my own. The cost of the materials were around $400, but that is a huge savings compared to buying a bed that looks like this.
4. Being able to say that you made it is also pretty cool. The ladies love it.
5. I'm not very good at explaining things, so if you have any questions, just ask!
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Step 1: Acquire
The first step in this, or any project, is to decide what you need and then acquire those things that you decided you needed. I measured my mattress, made a rough game plan, and wrote out a list of the wood I thought I would need. I rethought this several times and made several trips to the Depot. The items used in the end for this project are as follows:
You don't need anything fancy for this project. In fact 90% of the cuts made for this bed were entirely using my sliding miter saw. But here is what I used:
-Air Compressor with 18ga nail gun
-Electric sander (mine is an orbital)
-Carpenter's triangle (or whatever the crap it's called. EDIT. speed square. thanks.)
-Several C-Clamps. I have 6 12" ones, and that seemed to be good enough for my needs.
As far as the frame goes (and this is for a queen size bed, so you may adjust the wood sizes to your own measurements), you will need:
- 10 to 20 1x3x6' boards (these are the wood slats that act as the boxspring, and you don't need nearly as many as I used, as you will see).
- 1 4x4x8 ft board (douglas fir, not the green outdoor treated ones)
- 6 2x4x8 ft boards (more if you make sweet mistakes like me)
- 1 2x2x8 ft board (I bought this by accident, but it really came in handy).
The trim, or cosmetically inclined part of the bed, required a few more pieces. This is where you get to decide what type of wood you will use. I used pine because it is the cheapest, and is quite easy to work with. The results would probably be better with a harder wood like rosewood, walnut, or oak. You may choose based on your own budget and assessment of your skills. I assess my skills at a medium to high risk of mucking up, requiring forking out more cash for high grade wood. This was a wise choice. In any case, you will need:
- 2 1x10x8 ft pine boards
- 1 1x10x6 ft pine board (you could just buy 3 8ft boards, but I wanted to save money where I could, and this saved me a whopping buck fifty.
- 4 1x6x8 ft pine boards.
- 1 1x4x8 ft pine board
Then the headboard, you may do whatever you like. I wanted something simple and modern. I found at the lumber store some already pressed together pine sheets that were 24" wide by 96" long. This suited my needs perfectly, so that is the primary component in my headboard.
That should do it for the wood you need. Unless I'm forgetting something, in which case, I apologize.
-Sandpaper in 80, 100, 150 or 180, and 220 grit. If you have an orbital get all these in discs but buy regular sheets of 220 as wel.
-1 quart Pre-stain (this stuff is for people like me who buy crappy soft woods, so the stain takes more evenly)
-1 quart Stain of your choice. I used all minwax stain products, for consistency, even though I don't really think it makes a difference.
-1 quart finishing polyurethane. I chose satin because I hate glossy things, but that is up to your own tastes. They also make products that are supposedly stain and polyurethane in one? I think I'd rather stay away from that.
-Wood putty. I prefer the squeeze bottle.
-small flexible putty knife for the above.
-Nails for the nailgun. 1.5" are a good size
-A crapload of wood screws. 2.5" and 1.5"
-Wood glue. I bought two good sized bottles, but one was enough. I bought the Gorilla Glue brand wood glue because it was on sale. And because Elmer's should stick to non-toxic elementary school glue.
-lots of cotton rags, like cut up t-shirts
-sponge brushes, i used 2 and 3" sizes
-2 Metal brackets for applying a center 2x4 to the frame
-Another 4 sweet metal brackets that slip over a 4x4 and have bracket for 2x4 coming off 2 ends. I don't know what they are called, but there are pictures of them later.
-4 5.5x3/8" hex bolts
-16 3/8" washers
-16 3/8" hex nuts
Now that you spent all your money (the total cost of this project for me was about 400 bucks), we can get on to the good stuff.
Step 2: Building the Frame
Building the frame is the easy part, because it doesn't have to look pretty. You'll be able to cover most of your mistakes later. I based the frame on this Instructable. Looking back on that one, his way is probably a lot easier, but I required trim, and the bolts would have gotten in the way, though in hindsight there were easy ways around that, which I'll get to later.
Step one, cut the legs. Do your math right, here. since I was using 10" pine trim (which is more like 9.5), I needed at least that much, plus the legs. I decided on 6" legs because it was a nice low profile with room for my guitar case to fit underneath, and the total bed including headboard had to remain shorter than the bottom of my window (44" off the floor). So anyway, my legs ended up being about 15.5" or so tall.
So after you do that, apply the brackets in the appropriate locations so that the bottom of the 2x4 stud will be at the same height as the bottom of the trim board. (You can see what they look like in the photo). Be sure to line up all the brackets so that they are at the same exact height, we want this bed to sit level. You can use screws or nails when affixing the brackets. I used screws, which left a gap of about 3/16ths of an inch, which I paid dearly for later. Nails would have sat more flush, but they won't grip as tightly, and eventually may lead to squeaking, so I just dealt with the gap instead.
The actual frame part
This is where your measurements probably differ from mine, depending on your bed. But basically measure the short side of your mattress. (I think its like 58" or something on mine?) You want to cut 2 of the 2x4s to this measurement. I added 1/2" to my mattress width just for a little wiggle room, but not too much. Affix the 2x4's to the ends of two of the brackets respectively. Then measure the long side of the mattress. Cut 2 more of the 2x4's to the length of the mattress MINUS the width of one 4x4 (3.5"). This is so the headboard buts up directly to the mattress, since we aren't putting an edge around the entire bed. Mine ended up around 78" for the longside I think. Now assemble the four pieces and ta-da, you have a frame.
If you are using a queen or larger size bed, you need a center support piece too. Measure and cut a 2x4 stud to fit in the center of the frame. Find the center, and mark it with your handy dandy pencil. Then put the 2x4 stud support mounting bracket I told you to buy earlier in this spot. Measure it so it's level with the rest of the frame. We don't want the bed to bow.
Make sure it fits
The next, and probably most important part is to make sure that your assembled bed frame will fit where you need it to fit. My workshop is in the basement, so I had to ensure that it would fit upstairs before I got too crazy building it. The answer, my friends, was no. As you can see evidenced in the photo. Luckily, all I had to do was take off the sides, and bring it upstairs. The project was now relocated to my bedroom to finish the frame. I reassembled what I had done before in the bedroom, and was ready to continue.
Slat it up
Now that the frame is built, it's time to add some slats to act as a box spring or something. I guess just to hold the mattress and you up. In any case, measure the outside edge width of the frame, and that is the size you need to cut all of your 1x3 boards. You can space them out at your discretion, but make sure they are the same distance apart from each other (assuming you're anal like I am). I spaced mine by the width of a scrap of 2x2, for consistencies sake. This is way overkill, but in hindsight, I still would at least space them by the width of the 1x3s themselves. Nothing wrong with building a really sturdy bed.
Just go across with your screwgun and 1.5" screws, and drive one in on each end and the center support of the frame. And after a while, your frame will finally be complete. At this point you might want to throw your mattress on there and just test to make sure your measurements were right. There's no going back, now.
Step 3: Side Trim
Now that your frame is solid and complete, it's time to prettify. For this the frame is moved from the bedroom out to the garage for the remainder of the project.
Since my math never works out, I decided it's best to just measure every piece as you go, then you know it will be right. So turn the bedframe upside down, and place the 1x10 pine pieces in their respective spots (make sure you label the foot of the bed so you don't get it confused later. Even with our precise, superb measuring, you could still be off by a half inch or something and create some headaches.
Do it the old-fashioned way
But the board up to the end of the 4x4. Draw a line in pencil on the other end of the 4x4. There's your cutting line. Do this for the other side. Then do this for the foot of the bed, factoring in the two outside pieces of pine, for a nice flush fit (or make it a miter if you're more talented than me). I actually somehow screwed this up and the piece at the foot of the bed was about half an inch off (measure once, cut twice...), so the side pieces ended up being longer, extending to the edge of the foot. This is noticable and not that cute, but it still works. (You could say it "adds character" or some other bull).
Time for some good ole glue action
Using the foot of the bed as the first piece, get it ready so that it won't be too difficult to set the clamps and line up the board exactly to the top of the legs (Also, if you haven't figured it out, flip the frame back right side up). Then, apply wood glue to the edge along the legs and the frame where the pine will meet. Set it, clamp it tightly in place, and then firing up the nailgun, throw some nails in there to help hold it in place. Wipe the excess glue off, and let it dry for 20 min or so and you can remove the clamps and move on to the side pieces. The nails will do their job the rest of the way.
To do the side pieces, I wanted to prop it up on an edge, just to make it a little easier to reach, and have fewer glue runs. It's a good idea. Now, finish the two side pieces and take a break for a beer.
Step 4: The Top Trim
Now that the sides of the bed are assembled, time to put the top on. The width of the 4x4 plus the outside trim means we need about a 4.5" wide board. Thus, we had to buy the 1x6s and rip them to the appropriate size. So, you know, do that. This is what the table saw is for. I even took a picture of it (the saw was off at the time, don't worry).
Miter them corners up
Now comes the fun part. We are going to miter the corners of the top frame, so that it doesn't look like the bed was made entirely by a third grader. To do this, you need a miter saw. Turn the saw to a 45 degree angle. Cut the angle on both side pieces. Then you can measure the length they need to be and cut them off straight at the right measurement. Way easier than a precise measurement on a miter cut. For the foot you will obviously need to make two mitered cuts. Measure using the fat end. Make sure you also take into account the width of the saw blade, and where it lines up to your cut line. Good job. Now do a test fit to see that everything is playing nicely (There's even a photo of this to check your progress.)
Add mini studs
This step is probably completely unnecessary, but again, I am a man that enjoys overkill. So we're going to go along and place mini "studs" along the edge of the trim for further support for the top and side trim. To do this measure exactly the height from the frame stud to the top of the pine. Now take your 2x2 and cut about 15 or so pieces to the same height. To make this easier, clamp a scrap piece of wood on the end of the miter saw the appropriate distance from the blade, so you don't have to measure every piece, you can just butt it up against the scrap and they'll all be the same length. There is a picture here to show what I mean also.
Now arrange, glue and nail these along the perimeter of the bed (as shown). When that is finished, you may apply the top trim by gluing clamping and nailing in the appropriate locations.
Give it legs
As nice as the 4x4 legs look, you need to make them even with the trim. So what I did was cut some scrap 1x6 pieces to 1/4" less than the height of the leg. This allows for some room so that the 4x4 still supports the bed and not your arbitrarily placed scrap wood. And it's long enough that it looks like that's all its resting on. Anyway, glue and nail these pieces in. I only did the outside corners, and mitered the edge, to make it as clean as I could make it look.
Now it's finally starting to look like a bed!
Step 5: The Almighty Headboard
A way to hold on
You may do what you wish here, but I will first tell you how I attached it (so that it can be removable later). Take some scrap 2x4 the height of the headboard you want and clamp them slightly higher than the base of the head of the bed (on the 4x4s). I don't know if I explained that right, so there's a picture.
The most descriptive step yet
Clamp it tightly in place, and drill two 3/8" holes all the way through the 2x4 and 4x4 behind it. Do this for both sides. Then bolt the two boards in place using 5.5x3/8" bolts with washers on either side of it and nuts. Create your headboard around this, and then when you unbolt, your headboard will be exactly how you want it. I found a good piece of 24"x96" pine strips already glued together, so I glued/nailed that on there. Then, I ripped the 1x4 board down to just enough to cover the sides of the 2x4 and framed the headboard that way. It's sexy.
Step 6: Floating Nightstands
This is the part I wanted most on my bed, but did not quite know how to do. I found that the surface of the headboard made the perfect tabletop, so I went and bought another piece of it. I didn't know what size to make it, so I made it exactly the same size as my current night stand, 16"wide x 19" long. It's pretty perfect. So I cut two pieces exactly that size, with the grain running lengthwise along the bed. I then wanted the shelf to have some substance, so I cut a 4"x16" piece from the wood for the front and again for the outside edge (but this one 18 1/4" so it sits flush). Glue, nails, you know the routine. Just a different component.
I wanted the tables to sit flush along the top edge, so the bracket I made would need to be approx 3/4" lower than the top of the bed. I took a scrap piece of wood and adjusted a small piece of 2x4 (about 14" long) to be in exactly the right spot. I did the same trick I did with the headboard, and just drilled a couple holes right through, for mounting. The table was then attached to this 2x4 along with a cross piece for stability. It's good enough to support whatever you want to put on the table, but I wouldn't sit on it, that's for sure.
Step 7: Sanding and Leveling
The idea here is to make it look as though it is one solid, smooth piece of wood. This obviously did not happen entirely because I am horrible at this game, but marked improvements were made.
Time to wood putty it up
Now remember all those nail gun holes you made in the wood? And all the huge gaping crevices? Its time to make those go away as best as possible. Get out your wood putty and your putty knife and go to town slightly overfilling all the holes, cracks, and gaps. Let it dry for however long the jar/bottle says.
The sands of time
Now get ready for the fun part. Strap on some 80 grit sandpaper and go to town, leveling every surface as much as possible, sand the excess wood putty off until level with the rest of the wood. I mean, this should be the longest step of all of them. Get it as smooth and perfect as you can. Done?
Good, now do it again with 100 grit sandpaper. Now 150(or 180 if that's the way you roll). Now 220. Now 220 again, just in case you missed something. And then take a sheet of 220 sand paper and fold it over a few times. This time just go over all the corners and get rid of all the sharp edges, smooth it out a little bit.
Dust in the wind
Now the really fun part, which is removing all the sawdust and dirt you just got all over the damn place. But seriously, if you want the finish to turn out at all, the wood has to be extremely clean.
Since we are using pine wood, do NOT use a rag/cloth dampened with water to wipe the dust off. It will just suck right into the wood pores and you'll have to sand it all over again (trust me on this, I did it.) I hear tell that a light bit of mineral spirits works though. Or you can do what I did, and wipe all the dust off you could, then blow it off with the air compressor, then get a bunch of tack cloths and use those. That works pretty effectively.
And now you're finally ready for the finishing.
Step 8: Finishing and Staining
Here we are. The last, and most rewarding step of the process. Go find whatever stain you like at the store. I chose a dark color called "Jacobean." It didn't quite turn out as I expected, but I do like the effect it had, sort of. Mostly. A little. Yes. In any case, whatever stain you choose, make sure you test it on some scrap wood (sanded and prepared the same way as your project) to see that you get a color and density that you like. The darkness of the stain also depends on how long you leave it on the wood before wiping it off. So do a test of 5, 10, and 15 min to see what you like best. You shouldn't go longer than 15 min though or else the stain just starts to get sticky, and nobody likes it when your furniture is sticky.
There is this stuff called Pre-stain, which is used on soft woods, such as pine, to help along a more even coating of stain. If you don't use this, the stain will probably end up blotchy and have a lot of random dark and light spots. This still happens on occasion, but is at least controlled a bit with the pre-stain. Apply a coat of this to all surfaces with a sponge brush, and then wipe off the excess undried bits after 10 minutes or so. I prefer to do these steps in chunks i.e. the headboard, then the night stands, then one half the bed, then the other half.
Now after you let the pre-stain dry for the time allotted on the can, you're ready to stain. Just in case, I'd do one more swipe of the surface you're about to stain with the tack cloth, to ensure no dust just settled on it. Now, using the sponge brush, apply the stain liberally to the piece. Make sure it's all good and covered. Now go watch tv for 10 minutes or however long you decided on.
Back? Ok, cool. Grab a cotton cloth (the cut up t-shirts or whatever) and wipe all the excess stain off. And there you have your results.
If you want it darker (and I did), just apply a second coat after letting the first coat soak in and dry for a couple hours (again just follow the instructions on the can).
After you are done staining, I'd wait 24 hours or so, though I don't think you technically have to wait that long. Then get out the tack cloths and again remove dust. Bust open that can of polyurethane and get ready to apply it.
The way to do this stuff is the opposite of the stain, though. You don't get to wipe it off, so you have to put it on as thinly as possible while still covering all the wood surface area. It will still run in a few areas, especially the surfaces with gravity on their side. Try to catch them as much as possible before 10 min or so and it starts to get sticky. I ended up with only two noticable runs, but you'd really have to be looking for it.
After a couple hours, very softly sand it by hand with 220 or higher grit sandpaper just to get rid of some of the bubbles and even the surfaces. You'll see a few scratches and you'll likely freak out, but don't worry. Mineral spirts and tack cloth everything one more time, and then put on the 2nd coat of poly, same way you did the first. Let this dry for at least 24 hours and you are finally, really, awesomely finished with the bed.
Step 9: Enjoy!
Bring the bed inside (carefully! pine is REALLY soft and even one tap can cause a nick in your brand new awesome bed). Bolt the headboard and nightstands in place. Throw the mattress in it's place (hopefully it still fits), and take a nap with your dogs.
Thanks for reading. Ladies, the dogs are willing to share the other half of the bed.
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