One Last Bedstead

When my youngest child–my only son, R.–finally outgrew our old toddler bed (which I had originally built for his older sister, and which had then been passed down through the siblings to him, and which I eventually gave away to a young family in town), it was time to make him a twin-size bed of his own.  Like all the bed frames in the house, it needed to be affordable to make, it needed to be disassemble-able, and it needed to be robustly built because I intend it to last through R.’s teenage years.

Southern yellow pine is an excellent wood for this kind of project–cheap and very strong.  I had a few 2X8s and 2X10s stored away for this project.  Every time I get lumber at the local home center, I buy one or two extra boards–the clearest, straightest ones I can find.  They come in handy for projects like this.

R Bed Frame 6-2019

R. is just big enough that he wanted to help me break down the stock.  I started the cut, and he almost finished it.

R Bed Frame 6-2019

One of his sisters also wanted to take a turn.  She insisted on finishing her cut.  Then they let me make the rest of the cuts myself.

The design of the frame is fairly simple, but I’ve never seen anything else quite like it, so I suppose it’s my own design.

The head board is joined with mortise-and-tenon joints, and the panel is solid boards, shiplapped and screwed into a rabbet from the back.  The screws are set close to the middle of each board and put into oversize holes to allow for wood movement.

R Bed Frame 6-2019

Here is the dog taking temporary shelter under the partially-finished headboard.

R Bed Frame 6-2019

One of the cats found the workbench comfortable.  And he didn’t even seem to mind having tools and workpieces set on top of him.

Anyhow, back to the joinery.  The headboard and footboard are solid pieces, joined with mortises and tenons.  The side rails, which also support the mattress, are joined to the headboard and footboard by big lapped dovetails, secured by carriage bolts.

Cutting dovetails on the ends of long boards is an adventure, to be sure.  Once the tails are cut, I use the tails to lay out the sockets on each side of the headboard and footboard.

R Bed Frame 6-2019

After I sawed the lines on each side as much as I could, I used a bit and brace to remove most of the waste.  The rest I split out, and then I trued up the bottom with a router plane.  The resulting socket still looks pretty rough.

R Bed Frame 6-2019

But it looks a lot better when the tail fits perfectly the first time.

R Bed Frame 6-2019

After applying the finish (lacquer) and letting it dry thoroughly, I assembled the joints and pinned them with carriage bolts.  Stop-nuts on the bolts keep everything tight.

The undercarriage that supports the mattress is a set of 2X6s laid loose across battens screwed to the inside of each rail.

R Bed Frame 6-2019

R. enjoyed drilling the pilot holes for the screws that attach the battens.

After bolting everything together, we set the mattress on top to see how everything fits together.

R Bed Frame 6-2019

I think he likes it, although we did have to do some serious room-cleaning to make space for the bed.  As you can see, it’s a very small room, so I made the bed high enough that he can store things underneath in plastic tubs.

R Bed Frame 6-2019

Then, as soon as we had the bed in place, his sister M. came in to help him arrange things.  She likes “staging” rooms.

He was more interested in making faces a the camera.

R Bed Frame 6-2019

So there you go–that should be the last bed frame I have to make for quite a while.

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