Last summer, I made a custom king size bed frame for our bedroom, out of solid wood. I held off on writing about it until now, nine months later, because I wanted to make sure the end result was solid and worth writing about. We’ve been sleeping on it ever since, and there’s nothing wrong with it, so yes, I can heartily recommend it.
I was fed up with the laminates and particle board garbage they call furniture these days, and I wanted to build something that would last, out of a quality, sustainable material like wood. I chose pine, because it was softer and easier for me to work with. Although I’ve also built a custom cat house for our three cats, I’m no expert carpenter. I just like to work with wood. It’s a wonderful material.
While making it, I took photos and also recorded my progress on video. You’ll have to excuse their quality. It was just tired, sweaty me, snapping pics of my work as I went along. I wasn’t trying for anything artistic. I hope you enjoy seeing how I put it together, and perhaps it will inspire you to take on a do-it-yourself project the next time you need a piece of furniture.
First, I sat down and scribbled my ideas on a piece of paper, then drew the basic frame outline. The measurements and size of the frame were dictated by the king size mattress we already owned — a Tempur-Pedic mattress which we like quite a bit. I lost that bit of paper since, but I can still talk about the thinking behind the design of the frame:
- I wanted a fad-free frame design, something that you could still look at without cringing decades down the road
- I wanted something sturdy, that would hold up for decades or more
- I wanted a frame without sharp corners, so I wouldn’t be able to bump my shins against it — this meant making it to the exact size of our mattress, so any quilt we covered our bed with would drape over the edges of the mattress and frame, buffering against any possible bumps
- I wanted it to be neither high nor low — just the right height for sitting or laying on — so my wife and I practiced sitting and attempting to lay on a mock frame and bed ahead of time
- I wanted a serviceable bed — the only parts on it that could break are the flexible slats that support the mattress on either half of the frame, and they can be easily replaced
- I wanted to come up with my own design, using only my imagination, and see if it would actually work — to my surprise, it did!
The second step of the process was cutting and preparing the beams that would form the outline of the frame. I also got together the screws, bolts and brackets that would hold them together. I knew exactly how many I needed because I’d already drawn the frame and counted all of them. The screws you see in the photo below aren’t all of them, but they represent the various types of hardware I used during the assembly.
The concrete surface outside wasn’t level enough to continue to assemble the frame there, so I moved it inside, where we were replacing the floor and had made everything level. It’s critical to assemble furniture on a level surface, or you run the risk of getting non-square angles and ill-fitting joints. One or more of the legs might also then fail to touch the floor, causing the entire piece to rock back and forth.
After properly assembling the basic frame and tightening everything together, I could once again move it outside for further assembly and sanding.
This is how it looked after I put the slats in. I took them to a local building supplies store and had them all sanded down to the thickness I wanted, and had the corners rounded as well. Doing that myself with my manual sander would have taken me days, whereas having them do it with one of their machines took about 30-45 minutes and only cost me about $25.
This shows you the assembly of one of the back legs and the headrest support. As you can see, I cut it at a slanted angle, so it would lean backward and the headrest support wouldn’t form a 90° angle with the bed frame, because that would be uncomfortable when leaning on it.
This shows the underside of the bed, which allows you to see the timber frame more clearly, and the solid support for the slats.
This is a completely assembled back leg, shown from underneath, so you can see the various joints that come together there.
A closer look at the middle support beam.
This photo shows you the slant introduced in the headrest by cutting it from two directions. Structural integrity was maintained, because the cuts occurred on a single side of the beam, yet thanks to the cuts, the angle that the headrest now makes with the frame is well over 90°, which means one can lean back on it comfortably.
Another photo of the frame’s underside, showing how the middle support beam ties into the back beam with a T-bracket and wood screws.
The assembled bed frame, shown whole.
There’s one more thing I need to mention. Before painting the frame, I noticed there was a little movement in the back legs (the ones that support the headrest). Not much, and probably not noticeable once the bed was in use, but enough to make me do something about it. So I put four large self-screwing bolts onto each of those legs, and a wooden brace as well, with one end fixed into the leg, and the other fixed into the transverse beam that spans the length of the frame. Here are a couple of photos of the setup.
You’ve already seen the finished product at the beginning of this article, but here it is again. And if you look carefully, you’ll see one of the support braces. The frame truly is rock solid now. Total cost for the frame was around $200.