The flush paneled sides and lack of drawer pull hardware give this bed a sleek modern look. A tremendous amount of useful storage space is obtained by adding the drawers underneath the bed. I built this bed for my teenage daughter. I bought her a new memory foam mattress that requires a solid foundation. I incorporated 6 drawers into the bed for 2 reasons. First, to make use of the space under the bed for storage. Secondly, to prohibit her from stuffing tons of stuff under the bed when she is "cleaning" her room. I did not have any plans , or sketches to work off of. This was a "design as you go" project, which is typical for me. Sometimes its easier to visualize how a project will be put together once I get started. That being said, Im sure there are better ways to build this project, using less wood. I tend to "over engineer" things, but hey, I've never had something that I've built have a failure due to weak structure....Brawn is sometimes better than brain, or at least equal.
Step 1: Getting Started , Building Base Frame
Let me first say that the purpose of this Instructable is to show the steps I took in building this bed .It will show the construction methods and tools I used. Im not including exact dimensions of all of the individual components. All of the measurements can be adjusted to meet ones individual needs, ie. bed height, width and number of drawers etc.
Bed construction begins with building of the base. I designed this bed to be more of a modern style, with flush surfaces and straight lines. I wanted the main body of the bed to be sitting on a smaller base to allow the side and end edges to overhang. I built this bed for a Queen size mattress which has dimensions of 60" wide by 80" in length. I choose to have a 5" overhang on the sides and end of bed. To achieve this, I built the frame 75" long by 50" wide. I used 2" x 4" 's laid on edge which resulted in a base that is 3-1/2" tall . Once I had the frame built, I placed it up on my work table. I also had to use my table saw to support one end of the base frame. I leveled and squared the frame on the table using wood shims where needed. Then I screwed it down to my work surface to keep it in place during construction. No, I didn't screw it down to my tablesaw, I used glue........ok ..clamps.
Step 2: Bed Frame Construction
I built the Bed frame in two halves. This allows the bed to be disassembled for easier transporting. I constructed them out of 2 x 4 lumber and 3/4" plywood, thus making the finished bed very solid and quite heavy. I choose to have two large drawers at the foot of the bed and two smaller drawers on each side of the bed.
I started by laying out and cutting the top rails of the frame out of 2 x 4's. The piece towards the inside of the bed is cut shorter and has a half-lap joint cut out of its end. The half-lap is to accept a plywood panel that will continue the remaining length of the bed. The plywood is used to mount the inner drawer slide for the end drawers. To make the half-lap joint, I set the blade depth on my circular saw to 3/4". I then made a series of cross cuts on the board spaced about 1/8" apart. I then used a hammer and chisel to remove the remaining wood and smooth the surface of the joint. It would have been easier to use one continuous piece of plywood the length of the bed, instead of the 2 x 4's, but I didn't want to purchase any more wood than I had too. A lot of the wood I had left over from previous projects.
Next I cut the plywood panels to size. I used my table saw to rip the plywood to size. Since I'm working alone, I set up my work tables to help support the plywood sheets as I run them through the saw. I cut one floor piece 30" ( half the total bed width) by 25", which is the depth of the end drawers. I cut three vertical pieces 14" high by 28 1/2" for side drawer dividers and one piece 14' by 25" for the center end wall piece.
First I glued and screwed the end wall piece to the floor piece. Then I cut notches out of the side wall pieces to accept the 2x4 top rails. I fastened a side wall / drawer divider to the floor piece. Once secured, I positioned the floor section on the base frame and screwed it in place temporarily with two screws. The inside top rail went on next, I glued and screwed the half-lap joint to the corresponding plywood panel. I supported the opposite end of the top rail with a chunk of 2x4 . Then I installed a 2x4 cross member in place adjacent to the plywood sidewall . I used screws to fasten the cross member to the sidewall as well as the top rails. I then positioned the outer top rail and fastened it to the cross member. I attached a 2x4 cross member to the rails at the head end of the bed. Instead of a plywood panel at the head of the bed, I used a 2x4 frame secured with scrap pieces of plywood for gussets. I drilled pilot holes in the ends of the top rails where the cross members are fastened to prevent the boards from splitting. I also attached a 2-1/2" strip of plywood to the side edge of the plywood floor piece. This piece provides a surface for the lower edge of the finished panel to be fastened to.
The next thing I did was install a plywood floor piece running the remaining length of the bed frame, I used 3/4" plywood ripped to 12" wide. I really just need the plywood along the outer edges of the bed to support the lower edges of the drawer dividers. I fastened a scrap of plywood to the underside of the floor piece to help secure it to the floor section already in place. Then I installed the remaining 2x4 cross members between the top rails . I positioned them adjacent to the locations of the drawer divider panels. Next I installed the drawer dividers, which also needed to have notches cut out to accept the outer top rails. I screwed the panels to the cross members and also through the floor panel. I spaced the drawer dividers to allow room for two, 20" wide drawers. About 13" of space is remaining at the head of the bed to allow room for a night stand. I plan on building a head board next , that will be 6"-8" deep, which will result in about 20" of night stand space.
This side of the bed is done for now. Repeat the process and build the opposite half of the bed frame.
Step 3: Building Drawers
I built very basic drawers for this project using butt joints instead of dovetail joints. The width of the drawer box should be 1" less than the width of the opening to allow for drawer slide clearance. I had a 20" drawer opening so I built my drawer boxes 19" wide by 23 7/8" deep. I started by ripping 1/2" plywood into strips 8" wide. Then I cut the pieces to length with the miter saw. I used a block of wood , screwed to my bench top, as a cutting stop to assure all of the pieces were exactly the same length. It only takes a second to set up and it takes all of the measuring and guess work out of it. I made the front and rear drawer pieces fit inside the side pieces. I cut a 3/16" deep slot along the bottom inside edge of the drawer pieces. It is 5/8" in from the edge. Then I moved the table saw fence just a little, about half of a saw blade thickness, and ran the pieces again. The end result was a groove just over 3/16" wide, just the right size to accept the luan bottom panels. The last step is to raise the blade of the saw and run ONLY the drawer back pieces, to rip off the previously grooved section. This is done to allow the drawer bottom panel to overlap the back piece and be fastened. I used the table saw to cut drawer bottom panels out of 1/4" luan plywood , taking care to cut them as perfectly square as I could. The dimension of the bottom panel should be 3/8" larger on the sides and 5/8" larger in length.
Before assembling the drawers I finish sanded all off the sides of the pieces that would be inside the drawer once assembled. Its much easier to do it before hand than to try and do it after the drawer is assembled. I start drawer assembly by fastening one of the drawer sides to the drawer front. I used glue and an pneumatic nailer with 1 1/4" finish nails. I sparingly applied glue to the slots in the drawer pieces and slid the bottom panel in place. I installed the other side piece the same way. The back drawer piece goes in next. I used a carpenters square to align the drawer frame, then fastened the luan in place, nailing it into the bottom edge of theback drawer panel.
Step 4: Installing Drawer Slides
I bought some inexpensive drawer slides for $7 , that are 22" long. They are 3/4 extension drawer slides, which means the drawer will only open about 15-1/2". Each pair of drawer slides comes with two pieces, one to be mounted on the drawer and one to fasten to the drawer divider on the bed frame. First I installed the drawer portion of the slides using the screws provided with the slides. I kept the front edge of the slide 1/16" back from the front edge of the drawer. Next I installed the piece of the drawer slide that attaches to the drawer divider panel. I also kept the front edge of the drawer slide 1/16" back from the front edge of the divider panel. The bottom of the slides sits on the bottom of the divider panel at the front of slide. I ripped a piece of wood to 1/4" in thickness to use as a shim to hold the drawer slides level while they are screwed in place. After installing the slides , I numbered each drawer and its mating location on the bed.
Step 5: Building and Installing Drawer Fronts and Finish Surfaces
I chose to use 3/4" Maple veneered plywood for the finish surfaces of the bed. I covered the exposed end grain of the plywood with a iron-on Birch veneer. Application of the veneer is fairly easy. It has a heat activated glue on the under side of it. I use an old house hold iron to apply the veneer. I heat up about 10" of veneer at a time, which only requires about 3 seconds of ironing, then I use a small block of wood to press the veneer down tightly. If the veneer needs to be re-positioned, simply reheat the area and adjust as desired. The veneer is slightly wider than 3/4", so there is some material left over hanging the edge of the plywood once it is applied. This left over veneer can be trimmed carefully with a knife, but I find it easier to just sand the excess of with an orbital sander. I also fastened all of the beds finished panels to the bed frame from the inside, so there would be no visible fasteners and no nail holes to fill.
I ripped the plywood to a width of 14-1/2" on the table saw. I then cut the pieces to length. I clamped a straight edge to the plywood to use as a cutting guide. I used a carpenters square to align the straight edge and assure a perfectly square cut. I used a circular saw to make the cuts. The first piece I cut was the side panel at the foot of the bed. I cut it long enough to extend past the foot of the bed by 3/4". This is to cover the side edge of the drawer front, on the drawer at the foot of the bed. Next I applied the veneer to the edges. I temporarily clamped the board into position on the bed frame. I allowed the top edge of the panel to stick up 1-1/2" above the top surface of the bed frame to conceal the bottom of the mattress when completed. When I was satisfied with its position, I fastened the panel in place by screwing it to the bed frame from the inside. The next piece I cut was for the 2 side drawers. I cut it in one, 40" piece, the length of both drawers combined. Then I ripped a 4" strip from the drawer piece, 40" long, to be installed along the top edge of the bed frame. I followed the same process of veneering, aligning, clamping and fastening in place. The piece of plywood remaining after the rip was cut in half to form the 2 side drawer front panels. With the drawer boxes installed in place in the drawer slides, I positioned the drawer fronts in place. the drawer front panels extend about 5/8" below the bottom surface of the bed frame to allow a spot to open the drawer with out the use of drawer pull hardware. I used 1/8" thick spacer sticks, placed between the top and side edges of the drawer front panel, to maintain even gap spacing . I will also mention that I pre-drilled the holes in the bed frame where the panel fastening screws were installed. This lessens the chance of the panels shifting while the screws are being driven. I continued applying the finish panels in this fashion on the other 2 sides of the bed.
Step 6: Final Adjustments and Finishing
After installing all of the finish panels, some adjustment of the drawer slides was necessary. A couple of the drawer fronts did not sit flush along the top edge. They protruded out by nearly 1/8. To rectify this situation, I had to adjust the drawer slides on the inside of the bed frame . Lowering the rear, or inner most end of the slides, allowed the drawer fronts to tip inwards slightly and sit flush.
No matter how hard I tried, I still ended up having a few minor blemishes that needed filler. I used Dap brand plastic wood filler, mixed with a little of the stain I will be using, to fill the imperfections. Once the filler dried, I sanded the entire exterior of the bed with 220 grit sandpaper to prepare the surface for finishing.
I used a Ebony stain on the exterior of the bed. It produced a nice deep color. I applied one coat of stain with a foam brush , then wiped it back off immediately. After waiting 24 hours for the stain to dry , I applied 3 coats of water based polyurethane with a foam brush as well. I waited at least 2 hours before sanding with 300 grit sandpaper between coats.
There are 2 steps that I omitted from this instructable because I forgot to take pictures. I ripped pieces of 1/4" Oak plywood, 3-1/2" wide, to cover the sides of the 2x4 base frame. I painted the pieces black. I also cut 2 pieces of 3/8" plywood to be fastened to the top surface of the bed frame to support the mattress.
Step 7: Conclusion
I am satisfied with the outcome of this bed project. I had a lot of the materials already, left over from previous projects. I only had to spend about $95 for the drawer slides and a couple of sheets of plywood that I didn't already have. My daughter loves the look of her new bed and also the newly gained, and needed, storage space. Now we'll see how much junk she can cram into those drawers when it comes time to clean her room. My next project will be to construct a matching head board unit with more storage space designed into it. Thank you for checking out my Instructable and I look forward to reading your questions and comments.
Step 8: Bonus Step- Things That Went Wrong
As I stated in the beginning, this project was designed as I went. Like most projects, even the most well thought out ones, problems arose. What kind of instructable author would I be if I did not include my screw ups so that we can all learn from my mistakes. The first problem that arose was when I tried to install the drawer boxes after the slides were installed. Then boxes were too tall to allow them to be tipped into position while inserting them into the drawer slides. To fix this, I removed the drawer slides from the drawers and them ran the boxes through the table saw, ripping 1/2" off of the top edge of the drawer boxes.
My next issue occurred when I realized that I may have built the bed frame too narrow. I had made it exactly 60" wide. I measured a bed that I made a few years back and discovered that It was 61" wide , to accommodate the thickness of bedding. I figured this out before I had cut any of the finished panels. To solve this problem, I added 2x4 blocks between the 2 halves of the bed to gain the extra width. Then it came time to put the new mattress on the bed. I removed the mattress from its packaging and was disappointed to learn that the mattress was actually made undersized, that's right, it is only 58" wide. After muttering a few choice words, I came up with a solution, which I have not put into action yet. I am going to remove the 2x4 spacers from between the frame rails, simply enough right? Wrong! I also have to trim the width of both drawer fronts and upper trim pieces. This should not be too much of a problem if done carefully. Since all of the drawer fronts and finish panels are screwed on from the inside of the bed frame, they can easily be removed to be trimmed to length. I will, however, have to carefully apply a new piece of edge veneer to the freshly cut ends of the drawer fronts.
Next came the finishing process. I was happy to see that the wood filler/stain mixture worked well for hiding blemishes and was hardly noticeable when completed. I have had bad luck in the past with fillers that claimed to be stainable, but just didn't work out. So my next problem came while applying stain. Certain areas of the bed , where I had to do more extensive sanding, did not absorb the stain as well as the other, less sanded areas. This left me with inconsistent color. I thought I could live with it and decided to continue with the finishing process. After the first coat of polyurethane, I changed my mind and decided to try and fix the problem. I was able to sand off almost all of the stain and re-apply the stain for a much more even color. I am very glad I took the extra effort to rectify this situation. I am now left with a quality piece of furniture that will last for years to come..