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About a year and a half back, my spouse informed me that it was time for a new mattress. “Why?” I asked. There were no lumps. There were no valleys at the center of the bed. No rips. No tears. In fact, we were both sleeping fine.

Much to my surprise, I was told we needed new bedding because our mattress was 20 years old. That’s it. The mattress …¦…¦ was old. Heaven help our cats. Now at 16 years old, the boys only have four years until their magic number is up. And my number has come and gone more than twice.

I held off as long as I could, but time finally caught up with me. A new mattress and box spring arrived. It would be nice to simply switch out the new setup with the old, but my wife figured this would be a great time to upgrade in size as well , out went the queen and in came the king. Out, too, went our pencil-post bed frame.

I wasn’t too sad to change out the frame because the posts were an early experiment with glued-up materials. Each post showed a distinct bend if the canopy frame wasn’t in place. (Don’t join 8/4 stock with 4/4 stock, then cut a pencil-post design.)

I have the material at hand. I’m using 12/4 for the posts, 8/4 for my rails and 5/4 for the remaining parts of the headboard and footboard. The panels are 1/2″ cherry-veneer plywood.

I thought it would be interesting to build this project on the blog. I’m not sure how many entries there will be. Hey, I’m not sure if something new will happen on even a weekly basis. (One thing I’ve found since I’ve been on staff at Popular Woodworking magazine is a respect for woodworkers who have regular jobs. My production has greatly suffered from the days of old when I worked 60 hours per week building furniture.) But you get to keep track and watch my progress.

Shown at the top is a rendition of the headboard of our about-to-be-begun bed. I’ve posted a SketchUp file (click here to download) of the headboard if you care to take a look and offer criticism , and please, if you have any better ideas, let me hear them quickly. I have to get started as soon as possible. My customer is rather impatient sleeping on a mattress that’s resting on a steel frame.

– Glen D. Huey

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Showing 9 comments
  • Tom Woods


    You talked about clamping this thing together. I made a king size headboard this summer. I thought about buying some pipe sections to make large pipe clamps. Then I saw a couple of ratchet straps on the floor, the kind we tie down items on a trailer or truck bed. Well, I used two ratchet straps to pull everything together. Tension was good, and the diagonals came out pretty good (within 1/8"). It’s not tradition woodworking, but it worked for me.

  • Bill

    So – it’s been a week. Have you started yet?

  • Martin J Richter

    I looked at the design and thought that it seems stiff, and has no center of interest. The size is appropriate. I would suggest some curves to soften the look and use three pannels equally spaced. Do you plan for a foot board and side rails?
    What about under the bed storage?

    You can add detail in the posts (reeding or carvings) and side rails as well. Have you wife look through magizine adds etc for examples of design elements she likes.

  • tsstahl

    TD, Rockler has bed hardware.

    I’m starting my own bed project in early Spring and Rockler is where I found suitable hardware.

    No, I’m not affiliated with them at all.

  • cwilson

    Why do we design our beds to be taken apart? He has not moved his 16 years and when he did, it was probably cut up for other stuff anyway. You could say it is because of the size. With built-ins and workbenches we usually don’t build them with disassembly at heart.

  • Chris Friesen

    T.D., I suggest large bolts to fasten the side rails.

    You can fasten them from the outside if you don’t mind that look. (I did this on my bed.)

    Alternately, you can embed a nut inside the leg during construction and route a channel in the side rail to give clearance for a bolt in the rail.

  • T. D.

    Holy cow, talking about timing! My wife decided that a new bed was a good way to spend part of my year-end bonus, and we also moved from a queen to a king, so the old frame is out. I’ve spent the last 6 weeks or so figuring and re-figuring my plans, and anticipate starting this weekend.

    Would love to hear details on the mechanical fasteners that you’ll use to connect the side rails to the headboard and to the foot. It seems there are some options out there but I’m only slightly less than clueless.

  • Bartee Lamar

    So is all that wood stacked up cherry ?

    Do include the details regarding the hand work that you do. I am trying to extend my workmanship into hand tools and any actual experience I can see is very helpful.

  • Chris Friesen

    I’ve always been partial to David Fay’s "Bodden Bed". I love the interplay between the various curved pieces, as well as the varying thicknesses–each portion of each piece is exactly as large as needed.

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