A Bed for Michael

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Project by dakotawood posted 06-02-2016 03:47 PM 2974 views 17 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After a couple years of sleeping on his mattress on the floor, my son finally needed a bed. I wanted to make a manly/rustic looking twin bed. I decided on two tone: walnut and knotty cherry. This is my first bed. Fairly straight forward design and construction, really.

I designed it on Sketchup first. With the help of Rockler’s heavy duty bed rail fasteners, it was a snap to put together. As you can see below, the tricky part is routing out the hardware mortise in the ends of the rails. I used my festool router with edge guide and went slowly, then cleaned it up with a chisel. I decided to recess the hardware about 1/32” more than the surface, that way the bed rail will pull real tight when attached to head/foot board. I was pleased with this result – rock solid, yet fully seated. I also decided to mortise and glue some thick dowels into the bed rails where the hardware screws would go. That way each screw has a little cross-grain material to bite into, instead of just the end-grain of the rails.

Head board and foot board main parts are mortise and tenon. Head/foot board slats mate with their rails with Dominos. Bed rails have a cleat glued and screwed to the rail with dowels, glued in their holes. Bed slats have a notch that mate with the dowels, to prevent them from sliding around. Bed rail cleats and slats are hard maple. I filled in many knots in the cherry with West Systems Epoxy, mixed with a little dye. Head board and foot board assembly I decided on West Systems Epoxy with their filler, to give me some more open working time. Worked great. I finished everything with 1 coat of dewaxed shellac (wiped) and 3 coats of General Finishes Enduro Var (sprayed) – first time using this. I really like how it turned out. I will be using more of this in the future.

I finally ordered myself a custom branding iron. I’ve wanted one for a long time. I decided to go with Terry Desilets at Custom Branding Irons, Inc. He answered all my questions on the phone – very patient and courteous. I mailed him my signatures. Three weeks later it arrived. I decided on the non-electric version. This will be something I will use for the next 40 years. I figured it’s only likely that the electric component will fail eventually. I heated mine up with a propane torch – very slick. I love it! (Dated this piece with a different branding tool – free hand.)

With the solid walnut rails (1.5” thick) and posts (3.25” squared), this bed is a beast. Very stout and manly!

-- Travis, South Dakota

19 comments so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30152 posts in 2577 days

#1 posted 06-02-2016 04:01 PM

Straight forward, nice looking.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View BurlyBob's profile


6031 posts in 2504 days

#2 posted 06-02-2016 04:12 PM

That’s a very fine looking bed for a fine looking young man. Bet your looking forward to spending more time with him in your shop.

View MilFlyer's profile


941 posts in 1911 days

#3 posted 06-02-2016 04:21 PM

Fantastic looking! I’m looking to do the same thing for my son and daughter too.

-- VR, Richard "Fear is nothing more than a feeling. You feel hot. You feel hungry. You feel angry. You feel afraid. Fear can never kill you"--Remo Williams

View rctomps's profile


57 posts in 2215 days

#4 posted 06-02-2016 04:47 PM

Wow! very nice. beautiful bed. great job.

-- Rob

View Dave Peura's profile

Dave Peura

42 posts in 2922 days

#5 posted 06-02-2016 05:47 PM

Really nice looking, I like the rustic look. Great job!

-- Dave Peura

View Alan72's profile


218 posts in 2272 days

#6 posted 06-02-2016 05:50 PM

it’s perfect and your shop is nice and clean.

View majuvla's profile


13606 posts in 3106 days

#7 posted 06-02-2016 06:29 PM

His smile tells you everything. Beautiful bed. Interesting way you fixed crossed beams with thos ’’dovels’’ or something. Contrasting colours look great.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View JoeinGa's profile


7740 posts in 2246 days

#8 posted 06-02-2016 09:18 PM

Nice job on the bed, dad. The little guy looks very pleased !

Oh, but that shop is WAY TOO CLEAN ! You’re gonna hafta do something about that !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View htl's profile


4322 posts in 1398 days

#9 posted 06-02-2016 10:30 PM

If he’s been manly enough to sleep on the floor for all these years he defiantly needs a manly mans bed.
Great project!!!

-- An Index Of My Model making Blogs

View Mean_Dean's profile


6916 posts in 3386 days

#10 posted 06-02-2016 11:38 PM

That’s a great looking bed! Love the walnut/cherry combination. I’m sure he’ll get a good night’s sleep every night in his new bed!

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 2582 days

#11 posted 06-03-2016 12:32 AM

nice work

View oldrivers's profile


1519 posts in 1805 days

#12 posted 06-03-2016 01:33 AM

Mighty fine!Great design and workmanship. The bed rail hardware looks like what I normally use it sets the rails firm to the head and foot boards, it is evdent by the look on your sons face you hit a Grand Slam Congratulations.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View DwightC's profile


26 posts in 1015 days

#13 posted 06-03-2016 02:15 AM

nice looking bed for a nice looking kid. I hope he ‘helped’ you. Somehow I suspect that getting him down at bedtime may still be a challenge for the baby sitter, at least occasionally.

View robscastle's profile


5632 posts in 2443 days

#14 posted 06-03-2016 10:21 AM

Travis here is usually nothing to match the satisfaction of doing a good job,
apart from perhaps the expression visible on a happy customers face!

-- Regards Rob

View ravensrock's profile


507 posts in 1881 days

#15 posted 06-03-2016 12:38 PM

Looks like a very solid bed for a rambunctious young man! I’m sure he’s happy with it. And nice looking shop by the way!

-- Dave, York, PA, Wildside Woodworking

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