Bed lumber

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Forum topic by tyskkvinna posted 07-22-2012 04:16 AM 1838 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1310 posts in 2979 days

07-22-2012 04:16 AM

I am planning on building another bed… I made the one that I sleep on every night now, but it is made mostly of dimensional lumber. I have decided it is time to move up a little and I have my heart set on some hardwood. (Tigerwood, specifically)

What I am wondering about is the thickness of the main components. I’m having some trouble getting good details on this and when I specifically search it I just find people who err’ed on the side of caution and made it super sturdy. The design I have in mind does not have big posts on the corners (very similar style to the one I have now, if you wish to rift through my previous blogs to see it).

I found a good source for some 5/4 lumber that is a little rough, I imagine after I clean it up I will have 1” or damn near it. Will this be enough, or should I laminate the long boards to be closer to 2 – or maybe 1.5”?

I have not decided on the joints quite yet but I am researching sturdy ones to see what I like the most.. so there will be some solid joints between the sides. I’m sure that will help, too.

So basically – if a bunch of you think 1” boards will be sturdy enough, I will go ahead with that. And if not then I will double up on the structural (or one-and-a-half up.. I could resaw a little though I think in the end it would be not that much money saved by doing it that way).. I would prefer not to, for aesthetics.. but I would also prefer my bed to hold people on it, so you know. Still getting my toes wet with this furniture stuff.


-- Lis - Michigan - -

17 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2991 days

#1 posted 07-22-2012 05:03 AM

If you are going with similar design, I would go with the 1” but I would make the top into a torsion box and beef up the stringers and put a piece of 1/4 in or 1/8 even ply on the bottom. I would even say resaw the show wood down to 1/2 and laminate it to 1/2 ply to make it go further. You have access to the CNC so I would go with an egg crate type of stringers that half lap out of 3in or 3-1/2in strips of 1/4 ply on edge on 6in spacing. You could park a car on it.

The whole idea is to keep it from deflecting. As far as the joinery to headboard and footboard, making the bed box a bit thicker will give you more surface area to mount them.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View shipwright's profile


7979 posts in 2791 days

#2 posted 07-22-2012 05:29 AM

Just a thought. When I made our bed,a king size sleigh bed, I didn’t ask the woodwork to support the weight at all. I basically built a headboard, a footboard and two rails of about 3/4” x 10”. They surround and support the box spring and mattress but those components are supported on one of those minimal metal frames that are entirely under the box spring… invisible. The bed looks absolutely conventional but takes far less strain and needs not be as heavily built as if it were bearing all the weight.

Just a thought.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View sras's profile


4795 posts in 3122 days

#3 posted 07-22-2012 05:38 AM

Several years ago, I made our bed. When I was working out a design, I went to a show where professional woodworkers were displaying their furniture. I asked for some feedback. One of the thing I was told that may apply here was “If you are going to work that hard to create a nice piece of furniture, don’t settle for a glue lines on the posts. Buy some lumber that is the thickness you need.”

I don’t know if that advice will work with tigerwood, but I bought some 12/4 cherry for my project and was glad I did.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View BigYin's profile


416 posts in 2409 days

#4 posted 07-22-2012 07:13 AM

Ive made several beds in mahogany, oak, hemlock, the latest in redwood for a spare bedroom, with wedged half dovetail construction as it will need to be broken down to transport eventually.

The easiest beds to make have used staircase newel post bases for legs and newel post tops, handrail and spindles for the back. not the cheapest, definatly fastest. all mortice & tennon construction

-- ... Never Apologise For Being Right ...

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20451 posts in 3099 days

#5 posted 07-22-2012 12:46 PM

If I was doing it, I’d laminate them and make the rails 1 1/2×5 or 6 the head board and foot board could be 1”
. Also, the rails may have the hooks on the ends and I’d want thick wood for them! 2 cents worth…..........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2979 days

#6 posted 07-22-2012 01:22 PM

The price between 5/4 Tigerwood and 12/4 Tigerwood is pretty scary!! Even the 8/4 is a fairly impressive price. I settled on Tigerwood because I was able to find it in reasonable dimensions at a very, very doable price.. I wanted something pretty exotic… and distinctive. I could get 12/4 maple up here pretty cheap but it’s really not what I want at all. So if I have to go thicker, laminate it is! But maybe I will play off of it and rather than try to hide the glue lines, I will laminate a different piece of wood in between for some distinction. I am using paduak in some other components (of the bedroom, not the bed) and it could be an interesting play.

I think I would double up the long rails and keep the headboard and footboard single.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2844 days

#7 posted 07-22-2012 01:34 PM


You can strengthen the 1” rails by laminating a beefier cleat on the bottom to support the slats.

Second, carefully study a bed in place and note what shows and what is important.

2.5: I highly recommend this book for both inspiration and reference. Mr. Miller is one of the best writers we have and the joy he takes in our craft permeates his prose as well as his designs.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3230 days

#8 posted 07-22-2012 02:16 PM

I’d go with Shipwright’s suggestion. Don’t let the wood support the weight at all. Make the bed the way you have the design worked out and inside the frame put your metal rails. I’d also use supports under the frame, depending on how many you are inviting to your sleep over. (big evil grin I couldn’t help myself…)

-- Hal, Tennessee

View shipwright's profile


7979 posts in 2791 days

#9 posted 07-22-2012 02:24 PM

Hal, you missed my meaning. I used the simple metal bed support that stands alone. You could lift the whole wooden structure straight up (if you had four strong men) and the bed itself wouldn’t move. The legs are part of the metal frame.
Reading my post again, I wish I could delete ”and support”. :-(

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View ShaneA's profile


6928 posts in 2592 days

#10 posted 07-22-2012 02:52 PM

I am working on a king bed now. Using 3 1/8 posts and rails of about 1 1/8. Plan on using center supports. If you google them, they are essentially metal cross members with adjustable length feet. They are about $90 a set. They should take the brunt of the weight.

I used a mohagany and maple, lamiated the posts, and then resawed a veneer to go cover the glue lines because i wasnt happy with them. Playing them up is a good option too. Good luck on the build.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2979 days

#11 posted 07-22-2012 03:21 PM

Mine is only a full size and the one I use now works fine without any extra feet. I’m not going to use a metal bed underneath.. :)

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View jmos's profile


827 posts in 2363 days

#12 posted 07-22-2012 03:46 PM

My queen size bed is wood (I didn’t make it; got it before the woodworking bug bit) and the side rails are 3/4”, with a cleat inside to support the slats. Very sturdy, no problems even with the kids using it like a trampoline. I think 1” would be more than adequate. You’re not going to have a lot of side load that would require thickness to support, the load is in the direction of the width, if you go ~8” wide, it will be plenty strong.

You might want to consider using center legs on the slats to help support the box spring in the middle, but probably not a must with a full size. Easy to do out of solid wood; I would use a cheaper wood for the slats.

For the legs, if you don’t want to use full thickness stock, you can use 4 pieces mitered together to make a post with no lines (even use lock miters if you like), or use two thin (1/8”-1/4”) veneers to cover the glue lines on a solid wood leg, or use cheap secondary wood in the leg and veneer all around to keep lumber costs down. Of course you have to cap the tops to hide the construction. A few tricks from arts & crafts leg construction to avoid glue lines and have ray flake on all sides.

-- John

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2990 days

#13 posted 07-22-2012 04:14 PM

tyskkvinna. My Pine bed was built 13 years ago. The headboard has posts made of 1” x 6”(shaped like chair back) the side rails are 3/4”x 8”, on the inside of rails I glued amd screwed 3/4”x3” to accept the 3 cross members,these cross members are screwed from top to keep them in place.The side rails are mounted to the headboard and footboard using “Bed bolts”(6” bed bolt with barrel nut on rail side) I have moved this bed several times in 13 years, it comes apart easily and is solid when set together.(I am heavy person,this method holds me)
I believe if you use Tigerwood you will be fine leavng it 1”

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2979 days

#14 posted 07-22-2012 05:03 PM

There aren’t going to be “posts” in the corners.. that is just not my style.. but I do think it will be plenty sturdy on the corners. (If I can do my joints properly! :) )

I’m really glad to see a couple of people pipe up with beds that are made of the thinner wood. Excellent. I’m glad to hear it stands up to the test of time (and children).

I was going to use 6” but the price increase to 8” is minimal. I will consider that.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View canadianchips's profile


2600 posts in 2990 days

#15 posted 07-22-2012 05:11 PM

I should add: The side rails also have two 3/8” dowels as well as bed bolts.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

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