Black walnut bed with tusk tenon legs

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Project by Adam D posted 08-01-2013 12:33 AM 3079 views 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s my black walnut bed!

When I got out of college, I decided I needed some real furniture. I started doing some shopping and realized that all the stuff in the major furniture stores was garbage. I mean, it was literally made out of press-board and stapled/nailed together. Why on earth would I pay $400+ for this crap? I justified the purchase of my woodshop with the goal to make all the furniture in my bedroom. This bed was my first start!

I looked around and noticed that most beds have legs at the outermost corner. I thought that was not only boring, but just begging for stubbed toes over the years. I found some modern “floating” beds, and gave me the idea to put the legs under the bed instead. I braced the legs together with tusk tenon joinery, and think it came out pretty sharp looking.

Trying to figure out how to distribute the weight in a simple way took a few days to dream up, but I think I came up with a solid solution. The walnut legs are attached to 2 pine (2×4) ribs which take the weight to the outside walnut boards. Those walnut boards have a hardwood runner dadoed into them, giving a surface to attach ribs to down the entire length of the bed—I tried to get a good angle of that in the photos.

I left the natural curve of the wood in the foot of the bed, just cleaning off the bark and soft outer wood with a spokeshave. I wish I’d come up with a more clever solution for the corners, but it is what it is. It’s not as unmatched as the picture suggests. Dovetails would have been a bit too permanent for my liking, not to mention more work than I had the patience for at the time.

The mattress sits on a thin piece of plywood that sits on top of the ribs I mentioned before. I hot-glued a thrift-shop bedsheet to the plywood to protect my mattress.

I had big dreams to make the headboard the centerpiece of my room, but decided to keep it simple instead. The top piece angles back slightly, and the ends are just chopped off square. You can’t see it in the photos, but the right side of the middle board has a bunch of bore holes from some worms—love the character!

Slept on it for a couple years now. The damn wedges keep getting loose due to my book’s suggested angle of 10˚ being too much. At least that’s what this post said. It might be from too much shifting—from uh, dreaming of course. I used a drop of Elmer’s on each which has helped quite a bit, though now they’re starting to squish, too—I thought cherry would be hard enough, but I guess it’s no match for my dreams ;-)

I just posted my matching nightstand too, so check it out!

-- Adam, Rochester NY

2 comments so far

View OakHill's profile


282 posts in 1217 days

#1 posted 08-01-2013 10:41 AM

Very nice work! Looking forward to see your next project

-- John, Illinois,

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 1598 days

#2 posted 08-05-2013 04:55 PM

Great looking and unique bed! Like the cool design especially the joints. The walnut is gorgeous. Well done!

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