A Bed for Michael

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Project by dakotawood posted 06-02-2016 03:47 PM 1641 views 15 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

21264 posts in 1733 days

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

Straight forward, nice looking.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View BurlyBob's profile


3296 posts in 1660 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 Richard W. Hyman Jr's profile

Richard W. Hyman Jr

701 posts in 1067 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


45 posts in 1371 days

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

Wow! very nice. beautiful bed. great job.

-- Rob

View Dave Peura's profile

Dave Peura

40 posts in 2078 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


181 posts in 1428 days

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

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

View majuvla's profile


8390 posts in 2262 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


7262 posts in 1402 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


1915 posts in 554 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!!!

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

View Mean_Dean's profile


4874 posts in 2542 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

View david38's profile


2318 posts in 1738 days

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

nice work

View oldrivers's profile


691 posts in 961 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 171 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


3154 posts in 1599 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 Robert

View ravensrock's profile


313 posts in 1037 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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