Bed #1: The design process

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Blog entry by tyskkvinna posted 04-28-2010 06:22 PM 5001 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Bed series Part 2: Head and Footboard (Part 1) »

I am embarking on my first piece of actual furniture. It is going to be a bed, which I am making for myself.

I saw something I really liked and inspected it thoroughly.. then drew up a design.


This is what the rough design looks like. I would really appreciate some input.

The foot/head is 24” tall and the sides are 12”. I may knock the sides down a bit, I’m not sure. I have some 2×6 so it may end up being 11”...

What I am going to do for the head/foot is use plywood and then add a face to it. I have been making 1/2” planks from scrap wood to make a facade. It’s mostly pine, but also some oak and redwood. By pine I mean “dimensional lumber I have planed until I like it”.

One of the things I like best about the design is how you do not see any legs from the sides. The mattress will sit inside of it, so you will not see the interior of the frame. I want it to sit inside just enough so that it won’t move. Maybe 2”..

It’s a full-size bed.

My questions are as such:

1) Should this be sturdy enough? Will one vertical in the centre be okay, or should I have more?
2) I have a lot of 3/4” OSB – would that be ok as the backing/structure pieces? Or should I get plywood? Will 3/4” ply be okay? I would do it for all four outside pieces.
3) For the brace pieces (the yellow ones in the drawing) what size should the wood be?
4) What wood would be best for the support planks (the periwinkle)? I would prefer to use generic 1×2 or 1×3 but I’ve never done this so I don’t know…
5) I was kind of thinking of routing grooves for the planks to go in the support beams. So that everything lies flush. Yes/no? (It’d be easy for me to do..)

Also, I am making this so that I can disassemble it as necessary. (I anticipate moving a few times over the next 2-3 years) so I’m thinking of using metal brackets for all of the assembly. I’m thinking of something like this. For the centre rail I’m thinking of something like this.

Please forgive my noob-ness. I appreciate any and all suggestions!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

13 comments so far

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 3188 days

#1 posted 04-28-2010 07:04 PM

Looks like plenty of support to me.

Here’s what I use.
I use 3 cross supports oak 3/4×3 inches for a full and twin bed.
A queen and king gets 4 supports with the center of the supports getting braces to the floor.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3670 days

#2 posted 04-28-2010 07:19 PM

for a full-size you probably don’t need the leg in the center. the 3 cross bars should be more than enough.

as for the design – it’s a bit high for my taste (had something similar). if you are setting it this high, its usually to make use of the space underneath, in which case you may want to make the sides plywood narrower to give you more access to the space below – just a thought.

I wouldn’t worry about flushing the slats with the cross bars, they are not for beauty – just to support the mattress while still leaving room for air to circulate. you may want to notch them however to keep them from moving around ( or screwing them to the bars would be the other more common alternative

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3007 days

#3 posted 04-28-2010 07:43 PM

The flushing idea was so that they would not move. :) Nothing aesthetic.

I am happy to hear all of this! I was really concerned it would not be sturdy enough. Maybe I’ve just heard too many horror stories of IKEA beds.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2992 days

#4 posted 04-28-2010 08:21 PM

How high above the sides do you expect the mattress to extend. I only mention this because the design looks a little like a waterbed frame. I never cared for the sideboards knocking me in the head if I got too close to the edge, or digging into the backsides of my legs if I was sitting on the bed with my legs hanging over the side.

Don’t know why I am volunteering this information, slim chance I’ll ever be near that bed.

By the way, I like a lot of your art.

View LittlePaw's profile


1571 posts in 3100 days

#5 posted 04-28-2010 09:26 PM

Lis, I think you should have two to three upright support under the center beam. To be absolutely stable, I would use 2 2×4’s (vertical bolted together) along the center and supported by 2 to 3 supports to the floor. I built a similar waterbed frame before with 2×10’s and later found the center too weak and the bed wabbled and squeaked. That was not good. Better to be on the “too strong” side rather than to take it apart to re-enforce it later.

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3007 days

#6 posted 04-29-2010 05:12 AM

I really appreciate the input, everybody!

I hadn’t thought about the hitting-the-frame-laying-down problem. Thing is, I’m hoping to not have to use a boxspring at all (Foam mattress) so it may be closer to the surface. But I haven’t purchased the new mattress yet, either. Research, research.

Thanks LittlePaw. That’s kind of what I was thinking but I wasn’t sure if it was too overkill. I suppose – over-engineering is not a problem.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3694 days

#7 posted 04-29-2010 05:26 AM

Looks good to me.

View Troy's profile


186 posts in 3085 days

#8 posted 04-29-2010 10:39 PM

You may want to designin a toe-kick on the end. Will make it a little easier to make the bed

-- Troy Bouffard || Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired) ||

View Talyn's profile


55 posts in 3333 days

#9 posted 05-02-2010 04:38 PM

Are you going to do any of your art design to the wood, like any V carving? Also I think Baltic Birch Plywood is the best for strength and V carving.

-- Harry --- Never Give Up, Never Surrender,

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3007 days

#10 posted 05-02-2010 05:48 PM

No v-carving. I have a couple of relief things I’m going to do but they’re extremely geometric and simple.

I love ornate work, but not in my furniture.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View damon's profile


31 posts in 3639 days

#11 posted 05-06-2010 07:08 AM

structurally, and almost an afterthought, you could add a cleat, -2×4” that runs horizontal along both the head and foot board, underneath (and supporting) your 2×4 rails- this should allow a much better connection of your middle rail, rather than simply butting into to your plywood (I wouldn’t use OSB) – and with that in place, for a full size, I concur, you won’t need that middle leg . Also- you could add rigidity to the entire rectangle by tucking a few ~6” plywood right triangles into the inside corners, otherwise there’s no member in this design (besides the boxspring) that preserves the square of your rectangle ;-) Have fun!

-- Damon, Right Angle Construction

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3007 days

#12 posted 05-06-2010 02:28 PM

That’s good timing – I was kind of mulling over this last night and was considering that very same cleat idea.

Also—definitely no boxspring. I was kind of in the air about it previously, but determined over the weekend that the reason my bed was kind of tilted presently is because the box-spring is broken. I’ve wanted out of boxspring land for a while, anyway.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3058 days

#13 posted 05-09-2010 12:41 PM

Lis, I’ve been using a bed of this type of design, every night, since the late 80’s. Initially I was worried about the single cental, 4” x 1” of softwood, running the whole length (and no central vertical) but its been over 20 years and its still holding up well.


-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

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