|Project by Wolfdrool||posted 06-19-2013 04:24 PM||5497 views||22 times favorited||13 comments|
Here’s a farmhouse storage bed that I just finished building for my youngest son, who wanted more storage in his room. I used plans from Ana White, but modified them a little to use frame and panel construction in the head and footboards. It’s more craftsman style than farmhouse as a result. All red oak wood and 7-ply red oak plywood, and pre-finished baltic birch plywood.
Yes, my son’s room really is painted that green. No need to fix your monitor.
I started just after May 15 and finished yesterday. Finishing took 70% of the time. This means the build was straightforward. A fun project and good plans created by Ana White. Recommended.
The plans call for drawers or doors in the cubbies, but my son wanted those wide open. This was less work for dad, so I was happy to oblige. I also used pinned mortise and tenons or box joints all over for strength.
The cross cleats across the center help to support the mattress. The cleats are located and held in place by pins on the support rails. This is a centuries old technique to make the cross cleats easy to remove and replace securely, but I just learned about it at the beginning of this project reading Step by Step Beds by Jeff Miller. It works great and looks cool in person, hence hinting at why it’s a centuries old technique. Miller’s book has a lot of good content that guided this build quite a bit. If you’re thinking of building a bed, this book is a good resource.
The plans did not call for this, but each cabinet is supported on two box feet in the middle. The cabinets are self supporting and don’t rely only on the head and foot boards for support. Very solid and stable. The feet also help with assembly to support the cabinets while they are attached to the head and footboards.
As noted above, sanding and finishing took up 70% of the build time! Too bad totally bare wood is not in style. I used a General Finishes gel stain for the color and then three coats of General Finishes Enduro Var semi gloss for clear coat protection. Both finishing products are excellent. The gel stain made it pretty easy to get an evenly stained surface and dries very smooth. The results on end grain were very good. The end grain was virtually the same hue as the other surfaces without any pre-prep of the end grain, and the wood grain on the ends is just as viewable as elsewhere. The Enduro Var varnish self levels really well and develops an amber hue as it cures even though it is water-based. The Enduro Var sprayed easily without any reducer via an HVLP touch up gun. The gel stain has resins in it and starts the film build at the staining stage. Hence, after the first coat of water-based varnish was applied over that, the grain was raised only the tiniest bit on the first varnish coat and not at all after the second and third coats. Another thing that I liked about the Enduro Var was getting the amber effect of an oil-based varnish, but since it is water-based I could clean my gun afterwards with warm water, not thinner or other solvent. Easy.
I sanded between coats with 400 grit 3M sandblaster sanding sheets on a sanding block. This was the first time I used this product. The expense might be off-ptting but this is a great product. This took off the nits easily. But interestingly after cleaning up with a tack cloth before the next coat, the finish looked really good after the second coat of varnish. After the third coat and then sanding and tacking, the finish looked nearly completely rubbed out. This doesn’t usually occur with 400 grit sheets, and normally you wouldn’t rub out until many days have passed. I couldn’t see any scratches at any viewing angle. I buffed the finish without further rubbing out, and it looks quite good close up.
If I were to build this again, I would veneer the panels in the headboard frames with a complementary grain (not red oak) and make sure the grain in those panels runs vertically. I also would use doors or drawers with the cubbies, or maybe a storage bin that can be easily pulled out and put back.
The plywood used to make the cabinets is a 3/4 ply that has pre-finished birch faces. This saved a ton of sanding and finishing time, but the factory finish is too easy to scratch. It’s also not easily fixed as nothing sticks to it well. Next time, I might be tempted to use these again, but perhaps I instead might sand and pre-finish cabinet grade ply with a more durable, easier to fix finish like the gel stain-enduro var program described above.