Building a bed!

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Forum topic by Beginningwoodworker posted 03-18-2009 01:57 AM 2932 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3672 days

03-18-2009 01:57 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Down the road this summer or fall, I am planning on building myself a bed, but I am wondering with size stock to buy for the rails, slats, and headboard. I am looking a Mahogany for the headboard and Poplar for the rails.

14 replies so far

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 3441 days

#1 posted 03-18-2009 02:18 AM

All the beds we ever sold had 135mmx19mm or 135×30mm siderails with knockdown fittings from Hafele and 90×19mm slats. Head and foot panels are up to you as it will depend on your design but all ours were 30mm thickness. we also used Hafeles maxicam knockdown fittings as we had to box the beds for shipping. I have them on my pencil post bed and swear by them. It really doesn,t matter what sizes you use ,its the design thats important. Once you have that then buy your stock to suit.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View Lenny's profile


1593 posts in 3526 days

#2 posted 03-18-2009 03:12 AM

Hi. It’s Charles, right? As kiwi states, you can decide on sizes but there are some considerations. Have you considered how you want the bed to disassemble? For example, when I made my king size bed (see my home page), I opted for bed rail fasteners that are mortised and screwed into the side of the rail and post. If you go that route you want the rails to be beefy and hefty enough to leave a good amount of stock around the fastener. In other words, you probably want to avoid 1X stock for rails and go with at least 5/4 stock. As for the posts and head and foot boards, it’s up to you how small or large an appearance you are interested in. For a king size bed I opted for beefy looking posts but I didn’t want the bed to be overly heavy so I went with 1X stock for the actual head and foot boards as I was comfortable with the look against the thicker posts. When I purchased my mattress, it was sold with a metal brace that runs across the bed, attaching to the side rails, so I didn’t have slat concerns. This will be different if you are making a Queen size, double or twin bed.

Are you making the bed and will then make bureaus to match or are you going to match the bed to bureaus you already have? I designed my head and foot boards with a graceful arch to compliment the arch in the mirror I made for my wife’s dresser. Lots to think about and consider but that’s a big part of the fun of what we do. Good luck Charles.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 3363 days

#3 posted 03-18-2009 04:04 AM

I usually go for either 5/4 or 6/4 thick by 6” minimum width on the rails. I use a 1.5”x1.5” ledge glued and screwed to the rails to support the slats. If you are building a queen or king side make sure you add a short post under some of the slats to prevent sagging. As Lenny said, the posts can be any size. I would not go smaller than 2×2. Avoid surface mounted hardware if you can. A good 3/8” bed bolt with a cross dowl will hold thing together and it disassembles readily. Have either a short tenon on the end of your rails or some 1/2” dowels to keep the rails from twisting under load.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3672 days

#4 posted 03-18-2009 04:33 AM

Lenny I am just going to build a bed! I am doing a full size bed. I though 5/4 was the best for the legs. I wont to use bed rail fasteners.

View jack1's profile


2107 posts in 4026 days

#5 posted 03-18-2009 05:17 AM

It depends on the style and whether or not you use a steel bed frame and only build a headboard, you can get away with 4×4’s, 2×4’s and 1×4’s or solid sheeting depending on what you are looking for. For a full mattress frame the ideas above are great.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View Roz's profile


1699 posts in 3785 days

#6 posted 03-18-2009 05:24 AM

Hey neighbor, There are some good patterns out there via internet. I use them as rough guides for a lot of my work. When I was in the Chicago shop several people made beds of many different designs and sizes. Once a young woman built a nice set of bunk beds out of Maple. She had never done a project on her own, and developed her interest from working with her Grandfather years earlier.

I think the post should be at least 2 1/2 inch and as Lenny and Vince said, 5/4 for rails prevents problems. As I recall we got good mounting hardware from Rockler that had to be mortised in. I don’t remember what it was called but it look typical only heavier.

Good luck Roz

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

View HAP HANSON's profile


45 posts in 3811 days

#7 posted 03-18-2009 05:22 PM

Hey Charles – I usually browse the furn. stores and take photo’s of designs I like then try to improve on them. You will quickly see how thinner rails can be a real disadvantage. Take along a tape measure and clipboard – the sales associates usually leave you alone lol. Once I have my photo’s and measurements its off to “sketchup land”

-- Doc Hanson

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3672 days

#8 posted 03-19-2009 04:18 PM

Is Poplar strong enough for a Bed?

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3672 days

#9 posted 03-19-2009 05:21 PM

A good basic structure for a bed can be seen on these plans

View JimmyC's profile


106 posts in 3401 days

#10 posted 03-19-2009 05:31 PM

Charles, Poplar is strong enough for the bed, but there’s not much grain, color or figure in it. So unless you are going to paint it you might want to try another wood.

-- -JimmyC...Clayton,NC- "Just smile and wave boys, smile and wave"

View DannyBoy's profile


521 posts in 3864 days

#11 posted 03-19-2009 05:46 PM

Hey, great link, marcb!

-- He said wood...

View Lenny's profile


1593 posts in 3526 days

#12 posted 03-19-2009 11:18 PM

Right Charles, as JimmyC states, if you plan to paint the bed versus stain it, poplar is fine. Most woodworkers and furniture makers use poplar as a secondary (unseen parts) wood or for painted projects. If you plan to stain the project, you want to go with oak, pine, maple, cherry,...gee seems to be plenty of alternatives huh?

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1892 posts in 3671 days

#13 posted 03-20-2009 04:13 AM


I just love Dorje’s cherry platform bed! It is simple in design, and very elegant! Just a great project.

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3672 days

#14 posted 03-20-2009 03:31 PM

Yes it do Lenny, and thanks guys for the help.

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