Sleigh Bed w/Bent Panels

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Project by Chris Davis posted 05-17-2013 12:53 PM 4298 views 7 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve build several sleigh beds before, but this is a first with truly bent panels. During the planning phase of this my intentions were to use a vacuum system and form to make the panels. After the customer sent a cardboard pattern of the post and gave me some measurements. I determined that the panels were very thick and a frame with bending plywood would work better.

The customer has a Lexington suite in with the queen size bed. The company no longer builds this and when they wanted to upsize to a king, they couldn’t find one to match. We did change it up like not using a scroll at the top of the headboard nor the medallions. I did cut rosettes in the placde of the medallions.

Building Pictures
Sanding the bun feet
I didn’t turn them on the drill press, just sanding and cleaning them up.

Frame of one of the panels
Frame of one of the panels

Covered in bending plywood
Covering the panel in bending plywood

Adding the white oak veneer
I special ordered 8×4 white oak veneer because of the grain direction

Top sleigh rail
Each top rail started as a 6×6 (very heavy!)

sleigh bed headboard
Headboard ready for finish.

Wood: White Oak Other Wood Used: Poplar, Bending Plywood Finish: Clear coat with white glaze Bun Feet: Hand turned by Terry Waldrop
Completed: March 2013

For more building pictures see my Current Projects link at or See what we are doing live:
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12 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


18752 posts in 1905 days

#1 posted 05-17-2013 01:13 PM

This is so nice, Chris. It’s really impressive.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Moron's profile


4929 posts in 2932 days

#2 posted 05-17-2013 04:37 PM

Nicely done

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Napaman's profile


5435 posts in 3116 days

#3 posted 05-17-2013 06:26 PM

very cool! I love the curves!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View gsimon's profile


865 posts in 1152 days

#4 posted 05-18-2013 12:03 AM

beautiful – they must have loved it
thanks for showing your build in stages – it really helps us newbies

-- Greg Simon

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1270 posts in 987 days

#5 posted 05-18-2013 02:14 AM

are there and benefits to using hard wood instead of ply wood for the sub frame of the bent panels? And can you give us some details on how you shaped the top rails of the head/foot board. It really is an awesome bed in fact it is what I am thinking of building from sassafras for my wife. I had the general idea down, but was going to stumble through the rest.

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1359 posts in 3021 days

#6 posted 05-18-2013 10:15 AM

Plywood may be more stable for the sub frame, but I think the fasteners will hold better in the hardwood.

That top rail was a nightmare. Lots of work. One of the problems was how close that top rail was to the sleigh post. Around 3/16. Because of that I needed to make sure that top rails perfectly matched the curve.

Here are the steps that I took:
1. Traced the pattern of the sleigh post onto a piece of 1/2” for a template.
2. Transferred that patter to each end of the 6” x 6” post.
3. Trimmed as much off with table saw set on 45.
4. Shapped more with electric hand planner (started with hand planner but went and bought an electric one)
5. Finished cleaning it off with belt sander and orbital sander.

One thing to note I did cut a wide dado in bottom side to slip over the panel. If you don’t do that you’ll see a gap there, it is hard to mate up the rail and panel without doing that.
Shaping the top rail. Notice the dado
Shaping the top rail. Notice the dado

pattern for top rail
1/2” pattern for top rail

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View Lou Scott's profile

Lou Scott

40 posts in 1408 days

#7 posted 05-18-2013 10:24 AM

Very nice! Seems like lots of work.


View JoeinGa's profile


5444 posts in 1046 days

#8 posted 05-18-2013 10:31 AM

Beautiful bed!

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View Tim's profile (online now)


273 posts in 897 days

#9 posted 05-19-2013 09:39 AM


-- No tree was harmed in the making of this project...... wait a minute, yes there was, uh oh

View kevinruiz's profile


45 posts in 987 days

#10 posted 05-21-2013 05:27 PM

just beautiful

View joseph000's profile


346 posts in 1066 days

#11 posted 06-03-2013 11:57 AM

Nice looking.I like sleigh bed.Sleigh beds made of wood are traditionally beautiful and will never get outdated.Sleigh beds come in a wide variety of styles.Make sure you choose the right style for your room.

View Buckethead's profile


3100 posts in 908 days

#12 posted 06-03-2013 12:19 PM

That is one big chunk of oak to whittle down to such a fine fit…. Well done!

Was making the top rail first (then matching the sleigh post scroll cut to it after the fact) an option?

Did you consider making the top rail hollow from beveled pieces? (Like a whiskey barrel, for instance) the extra labor might have offset any savings in materials, so for a client project, it probably didn’t make sense.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

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