Intro: Massive Timbered Platform Bed
We wanted a modern platform bed made from slab wood about 3" thick. These were impossible to find for purchase without spending many thousands of dollars. So what the heck, it can't be that hard to build a bed frame - right?
As it turned out this was an easy project, only made somewhat more difficult by the weight of the wood I chose to use, which resulted in a bed weighing about 275lb and which I therefore had to build in such a way that it can be easily disassembled for transportation. Next time I will use Port Orford Cedar throughout which is much lighter and should get the weight down enough to make it practical to build this as a non-breakdownable bed.
Step 1: Source Materials and Mark and Cut
I purchased a slab of Eastern Maple already cut into 4 boards from a local yard that specializes in slab wood. I wanted the bed to be an oversize Queen Size with the platform protruding about 6" on each side of the bed. Initially I wanted the foot of the bed to protrude 12". Unfortunately the destination room is too shallow for this but it would have been a nice touch to have been able to use the foot of the bed as a shelf for books or decor items. I had two Port Orford cedar boards left over from another project that I would use for the legs.
After cutting the 4 planks to length I marked and cut the simple Rabbet joints. The lumber was too heavy to risk using a dado blade on my table saw so I cut and chiseled the rabbets with a circular saw. Next time I will have to come up with a quicker and more accurate technique for this step.
Step 2: Layout and Adjust
I then laid out the main structure of the bed and sanded/chiseled the joints to get an acceptable fit. I was not seeking perfection here, and I didn't get it either! I wanted the joints to stand out and to achieve this I think next time I will use a reveal on all joint edges to exaggerate them and at the same time hide any imperfections. After laying it out I cut a 1/2" recess on the two long sides of the frame to accept the slats
Step 3: Assembly
I then assembled the bed frame in situ using appropriately sized carriage bolts through my rabbet joints since I needed to be able to disassemble this frame to move it. I recessed the bolts using a forstner bit in my drill.
With the frame assembled I slid the boards that I was using for legs under the frame. I actually needed to us a couple of bottle jacks to hike the frame up it was so heavy! With the legs in place it was easy to secure them with Lag Screws in recessed holes just like the carriage bolts.
All the hardware at the foot end of the bed frame is visible. I like the idea of the underpinnings of structural items showing through so this was fine for me, but if making for a customer I would probably offer to conceal them with wood plugs.
All that was left to do was to add the slats that will support the mattress. I had previously cut a ledge for them to sit in before assembling the frame. I used raw cedar pickets which in addition to being cheap, are nice and springy and add a wonderful cedar smell to the bedding (at least for the first few months).
Finally I sealed the frame (but not the slats) with a clear and flat sealer.
The finished bed frame with and without mattress.
The frame is so heavy that I installed slippery hard plastic furniture sliders under the legs as it was otherwise impossible to move. After a couple of months I noticed that the cedar slats were starting to sag in the middle of the bed (a concern that I had been monitoring) and I retrofitted a 2X4 longitudinally down the center of the frame which solved the problem.