ago, I built a backyard ice rink for our children to skate on
in the winter. Eventually the kids outgrew it and after disassembly
I was left with a stack of 2" x 8" boards that needed
a new purpose. Building a bed for my daughter seemed like a
good project. The design was based on the classic lines of various
Shaker beds, but the legs were redesigned to be square, instead
of turned, eliminating the need for a lathe. This, along with
a few other design choices, makes it a project anyone with some
basic woodworking tools and abilities should be able to complete.
Material used for furniture making should be kiln dried; still,
you will likely need to stack the lumber for a few weeks until
it's at the desired dryness. Also, look for the widest boards
with the least number of knots and flaws. These come from larger
trees, which produce boards that are usually close to straight
grained. I used 2" x 8" boards, since that was what
I had on hand. If I were buying new, I would look at 2"
x 10" or even 2" x 12" boards. Above all, don't
use wood from the pith (center) of the tree since it's unstable.
When my wood was dry and ready to use, I selected the stock
with the straightest grain and the fewest flaws to use for the
headboard and the footboard, since those are the most visible
sections of the bed. The legs are shorter and narrower than
the other pieces, so you can likely find suitable lengths by
working around knots in boards that you might otherwise reject.
I selected the two side rails last, since they are mostly hidden
Headboard and Footboard Assemblies
by gluing up the pieces to make the leg blanks. While those
are drying, work on dressing and gluing up the headboard and
footboard blanks. Once dry, these assemblies should be jointed
and planed to final thickness and cut to length. The plan shows
the legs at 2-1/2" square and the headboard, footboard
and rails at 1-1/8" thickness. Adjust the dimensions to
suit the bed's mattress; however, I recommend the side rails
be no thinner than 1-1/8" to avoid trouble with the bed
Lay out the legs, headboard and footboard and mark the pieces
accordingly. I used dowels to attach the headboard and footboard
to the legs. Mortise and tenon joints would also be a good choice.
Drill or cut the mortise in the legs before tapering them. At
21" tall, the headboard might give you problems with wood
movement. The traditional solution is to use a divided tenon
to allow for some movement. I confined my dowels to the middle
third of the headboard for the same reason.