Bunk Beds for the Boys #4: Progress This Week...

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Blog entry by RobH posted 02-20-2008 04:14 AM 1249 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Finally Started ....... The Wood Is Purchased ... Part 4 of Bunk Beds for the Boys series Part 5: Weekly Progress Update... »

Well, eight days ago I posted the results of the wood-getting trip. Well, now to post the results of this past week’s work. I have made a lot of progress, although not as much as I had hoped. This time I tried something that I usually do not do. I bought 16/4 lumber to make my 3” square posts out of. Here are the eight posts all finished out to 3” and ready for mortising.


I also go the blanks made up for the safety rail posts. The longer portion of the posts will hang over the front of the side rails and will bolt to the side rails. Here is a picture of all 12 safety rail posts ready for mortising.

Safety Rail Posts - Finsihed and Ready for Mortising

The next job on the list was mortising the end rails. To ease the burden somewhat, I used a techniques that I learned while building the bed in our master bedroom. The end rails are 1-1/2” thick. In order to make the mortising job easier, two 3/4” boards are laid edge to edge and then grooves the width of the mortise and 1/2 the thickness of the mortise are routed in the pieces. Then the pieces are glued together to make a 1-1/2” thick rail with through mortises. Really easy to do with a good router and a jig. The following picture show the process.

(1) Two 3/4” thick boards laid edge to edge.

Since these rails will be painted, and holes and such can easily be filled with no implications, I attached to pieces of wood on each end of the rail blanks to hold everything in place while I routed. If using this technique I would make sure my rough rails had enough extra on them to attached something like this. It makes the process a lot easier.

These blocks, are not on the side that will be routed.

(2) After securing the boards, I flip them over and mark the location of the grooves (mortises).

Groove locations marked...

(3) Now, I attach the routing jig to the rail blanks and screw the jig down to the blanks. In this case, the screw holes will never show since the end up on the inside of the rail.

(4) Then starts the long, laborious task of routing away all of that wood…

(5) Simply repeat (1) through (4) until all eight rails are done. (A good radio station or an MP3 player full of your favorite music/podcasts really helps here.)

(6) Now it is time for glue-up. Simply fold the rails together and stack them up. Add a little glue between each rails, and what come out is something like this.

It helps to have a couple of pieces of wood cut to the size of the mortises that can be inserted into the end mortises of each rail during the initial setup and clamping operation to ensure that the two halves of the rails stay aligned. Once everything is clamped down you take the pieces of wood out and run them through every mortise to clean out the glue.

Well, all of this seems like a lot of work, and it is, but pile on top of this the fact that I had router problems and it was frustrating to say the least. The DeWalt DW618 router that I was using at first decided to misbehave in the form of a frozen-up bottom bearing. So, I borrowed a friends 618 to finish up the first set of rails so the mortises would be at least close to the same. Right as I finished using his something broke loose and started rattling around in the motor. When this happened, the router went from the set speed to full speed. Come to find out the magnet that provides the input to the motor speed control had shattered and fallen into the motor. Took the router back to him and worked things out. Then my son and I went to get me another router. I came back from that trip empty-handed because I did not want to pay $200.00 for a router this weekend (yes, I would love a new tool, but not now). I came home and pulled my PC 7529 out of the table and used it to finish up the rest of the rails.

As of tonight, the posts are ready to mortise, the safety rail posts are ready to mortise, one set of end rails is glued and ready for final sizing, and the other set of end rails is mortised and ready for gluing. Hopefully the shop will be above 55 degrees for the gluing process before the weekend. I think the rest of the week I will concentrate on getting an appropriate design for the mortising jig.

I am hoping this weekend to get the mattresses and get the end rails cut to length. Hopefully the posts will be mortised and the rails will be tenoned before the weekend is over.

Thanks all for looking. This blog is really making this an enjoyable project for me.

Look for another update at the first of next week.

-- -- Rob Hix, King George, VA

4 comments so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3845 days

#1 posted 02-20-2008 04:21 AM


This is a very informational post. I am going to have to favorite it. Building a bed is on my to do list (along with a number of other things). But this definately gives me some ideas.

I look forward to seeing your next post.

Thanks for the help.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3947 days

#2 posted 02-20-2008 05:40 AM

Did you ever get the Hollow chisel mortiser? You were talking about getting one and I wondered which one you picked up, it seems that it might come in handy for this project.
I like the way its coming so far keep the photos coming.
Are you working from your own design?

View RobH's profile


465 posts in 4072 days

#3 posted 02-20-2008 05:52 AM


I did not get the mortiser. I decided for this project to go straight with the router. I got a good upcut spiral bit and I an ready to go. I did get me a mortise chisel just in case I have more router problems (knock on wood).

This is my design, loosely based on a set of beds from Pottery Barn Kids. I offered the plans to Scott once I get them completed. I guess I could offer them to anyone. They are in Sketchup, and I do not mind sharing. It will probably be a few more weeks before I get the plans modified to meet my current construction plans, but if you or anyone else wants them, feel free to PM me and I will gladly send them out.

-- -- Rob Hix, King George, VA

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 3957 days

#4 posted 02-20-2008 03:23 PM

Thank you for sharing! I too am looking forward to doing a bed, probably in the more-distant future than relatively soon. I really appreciate you sharing your learning. Too bad about your router – I had something similar happen in the middle of a project with my then-favorite router. The power cord shorted out inside the unit, so I had to tear it down and rewire. Is your DeWalt fixable?

-- Robb

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