Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Big Girl Bed! Part 3 - Constructing the Bed - a tutorial!

The bed!  I  must say constructing this bed was quite an undertaking, and totally worth it.  When I decided it was time for the clever girl to have a big girl bed, I immediately thought of constructing one instead of purchasing one.  This is mostly because I had the idea for a bed made with recycled doors a while ago and was just waiting until the right time to put that idea into action.  As I have probably alluded to in other posts, we are in the process of building a new house.  The property on which our new house is being built is around the corner from our current house, and actually had an existing house at the time we purchased the property.  That house was built in the late 1930's and though the house itself was not worth salvaging, there were items within the house that were!  Like, for instance, the doors!  When I saw those doors the idea of a bed made with re-purposed doors jumped into my head.

Though I don't consider myself to be a "woodworker", I do know a thing or two about working with wood.  I was that one weird girl that took wood shop for 2 years in junior high - the ONLY girl that had taken that class up to that point and until that particular teacher retired!  What's that about?  I also have a dad that is pretty handy and did some wood crafts from time to time.  Anyway, I liked it and have stayed somewhat handy with tools.  Truly, it is an important thing for a girl to know how to do, at least on a basic level, in my opinion.

I did a ton of research for this bed, as my precious clever girl would be sleeping upon it and I wanted to be 100% certain it was solid.  I found a few blogs online that referenced making a bed from recycled doors, but none that did it quite the way I wanted.  I also found Ana White's website, in which she details building a Farmhouse Bed.  This still wasn't exactly what I wanted but I used these ideas as my jumping off point. 

The first decision was that I wanted the bed to be full-sized.  Thus all dimensions for this bed are based on creating a full-sized bed.  A full-sized mattress is 54' x 75" so the bed needed to be made to hold this mattress.  I also decided that eventually I wanted to make a trundle to go under the bed, so this bed would have to be VERY tall.  From the research I found, you need a good 12 inches underneath a bed in order to slide in a trundle with a mattress.

The next thing to figure out was how to cut the doors.  My doors had 6 panels and each set of 2 panels was a different size.  What I mean by that, is that the doors had 2 small panels on the top, 2 larger panels in the middle, and 2 even larger panels on the bottom.  Though I saw many tutorials who simply took a door, turned it horizontal, and trimmed the ends to be the size of a bed, this would not work for me.  Well, technically, it would work, but then the panels left in the door would not be symmetrical or centered on the bed and I just have a thing about symmetry.  I decided to use 2 doors, matching the panels vertically.  So, for the headboard, I used the 2 largest panels from 2 doors and for the footboard I used the 2 medium panels from the 2 doors.  Left over I have the very top of each door to do something with..... maybe a bedside table??

Here is my diagram and key for the bed:
Note that the drawing indicates the headboard, but it is the same as the footboard, with the footboard's legs being shorter. 

I determined that I needed the following supplies:

I looked at big box stores for lumber but was not pleased with what I found.  In general there were no 4x4's so I knew I would have to go somewhere else for those, plus the wood itself was just okay but nothing great.  So I went to a local lumber company for the wood, and chose poplar.  Poplar isn't the cheapest wood they have, but it is very strong and since I planned to paint the bed, woodgrain was not important.  Some sort of pine would have been much cheaper (especially at a big box store) but I liked the poplar best and went with the higher dollar.  This bed will last forever!

Ta-da!  Supplies!  On the far right in the back are the left-over door pieces... awaiting inspiration and time!

The first thing I needed to do was fill in some holes.  When Mr. Clever Mom cut the doors apart, we bisected the place where the doorknob and latch would be.  This leaves a big hole in the wood/door so I filled that in with wood filler.

Now we can start bed construnction!
Step 1:  Connect A to A with wood glue.  Glue the door pieces together edge to edge.  Do this for the headboard and the footboard.

Step 2:  Apply B over seam of doors, using wood glue and 1 1/4" screws - set in.  Do this for the back and front of the headboard and footboard.  Note:  Whenever screws are to be set in for this project, fill in the hole with wood filler.

Step 3:  Apply C using wood glue and 3" screws - set in.  I used 5 screws for each set.

headboard and footboard

Step 4:  Attach D (posts) using wood glue and 4" screws - set in.  I used 4 screws for the footboard and 5 for the headboard, making sure there was a screw going from D into C.  Watch where you put the screw going from D into C, as there should be a screw nearby going from C into the door. 

Step 5:  Cut E to length of top of headboard (D+A+A+D) and attach using wood glue and 3" screws.  I used 8 screws - 2 on each end and then 4 relatively evenly spaced across.
 Step 6:  Cut F to length of E plus 2 inches, allowing for 1 inch of overhang on each side.  Center F on top of E and attach with wood glue and 2 inch screws - set in.  I used 9 screws here - 3 on each end in a sort of triangular pattern to avoid the screws placed in step 5, and 3 more screws evenly spaced across the top, again avoiding the screw places from step 5. 

Mr. Clever Mom at work!
Repeat steps 1-6 for the footboard.

Now it is time for the side rails and cleats.  I wanted these rails to be removable, not permanently attached to the bed.  This way when you move, you can easily take the bed apart and bring it with you.  Otherwise I suppose you just build the bed in the bedroom where it will stay and carefully finagle it through doorways and such to take the bed with you.  I went to Rocker (there is also an online store but there happens to be one nearby for me - yippee) and purchased Surface Mounted Keyhole Bed Rail Brackets.   You only need 1 package for the bed, but you need to purchase screws.  In addition, I wanted the rails that go across the bed (items I) to be detachable, so I purchased 2 sets of the Center Bed Rail Fasteners, one set for each rail (I).  These fasteners come with screws but they are worthless, so you'll need different ones!

Measure across your headboard or footboard the distance from the edge of one post (D) to the other.  This should be WIDER than your mattress.  Item G needs to sit so that the distance from the inside edge on one post to the inside edge to the other post is equal to the mattress width, plus maybe an inch for extra measure.  In addition, you need to figure out how far off of the ground item G needs to sit.  For the clever girl's bed, I wanted the bottom edge of Item G (the bed rail) to be 12 inches up from the bottom of the post (or 12 inches up from the floor).  I had to determine how to place the brackets on D and G to ensure that once set, G would sit at 12 inches from the floor.  Fiddle with the brackets some and you'll figure out how to make this work.

Step 7:  Attach L shaped part of the Surface Mounted Keyhole Bed Rail Bracket to D, 12 inches (or designated distance) from the bottom of the leg, 3/8" in from the inside edge of D, using 4 #8 flathead 3/4" screws for each bracket.   These brackets have two holes that are somewhat oddly shaped, with a big circle attached to a little circle where the bracket seats.  To attach these brackets the right way, the big circles need to always be on the top with the smaller circle on the bottom.  This way, when you slide the other piece of the bracket into this one, it goes in and down.  Thank you gravity!  In addition, the part of the bracket with those weird holes goes towards the middle of the post, not towards the inside of the bed.  It makes more sense when you have that bracket in your hand!

Step 8:  Attach flat bracket to G so the bottom of the bracket is 1/4" from the bottom of G, using 4 #8 flathead 3/4" screws for each bracket.  This should set G so it is the distance from the floor that you wanted.   There is another hole in the center of this bracket that lines up with a hole in the L shaped bracket, that is used to lock the side rails in place once the bed is together.  You will use a #10 round screw for each of the brackets when the time comes.

Step 9:  Cut H approximately 2-3 inches shorter on each end than G.  Since my side rail G was 75 inches long, I cut H to be 69 inches.  Items H are the cleats.  These hold the box spring.

I didn't take a photo before we painted - but here is the side rail and cleat!
Step 10:  Attach H to G with wood glue and 3 inch screws, going in from H to G.  I used 8 total for each.

Step 11:  Attach bedrail/crossbeam brackets - the Center Bed Rail Fasteners.  I decided I wanted these to be 18" in from each end of the bed.  They can be wherever you want!  These fasteners each have 2 pieces - a flat part which is attached to the cleat, and an L shaped part that is attached to the crossbeam.  We found that in order to get these fasteners to actually fit together, the pieces that stick out on the flat part needed to be opened up a bit more, which we did by prying a little with a screwdriver.  Again, the screws included in the package for the fasteners do not work, you need a screw with a larger head.  I cannot remember which one we used but between all of the screws you have for this project, you'll have one that fits! 

Step 12:  Cut I to fit between the cleats (G), allowing for the space needed to attach an L shaped Center Bed Rail Fastener to each end. 

Step 13:  Screw the L shaped fasteners to the ends of I.

Step 14:  Sand all parts of the bed before painting.

Step 15:  Paint!  We used a primer first, then 2 coats of an indoor paint that has a bit of an enamel finish.  The paint is generally used for crown molding, baseboards, that sort of thing.  It has a hard finish so it won't ding as easily. 

Put the bed together and step back to admire your work!  It is beautiful!  The clever girl did a little dance in the inside of the bed before we put the mattress and box spring down!

This bed was honestly made with lots of love and a few tears.  The tears came into play the day I broke my finger.  Since now you have an idea of how we made this bed, when we were at step 7, for some DUMB reason we had the headboard standing up while I sat on the floor and measured and marked where the brackets would be.  Well, the headboard started to tip over, and I cried "help!" at which point Mr. Clever Mom jumped to catch the bed, landing and then pushing off again on my fingertip.  OUCH!  When we made this bed I was very pregnant, thus was unable to jump up myself to catch the bed - in that state you don't jump up much at all!  My fingertip was broken.  Thankfully it was just the tip.  It could have been so much worse!    Oh and another day, the footboard was standing up next to where I was sitting and it fell over onto my head!  I can attest to the fact that this is ONE HEAVY BED!  Ouch again.  Why didn't we learn from the first catastrophe and keep all bed parts laying down??  I can only shake my head and wonder at our craziness.  Maybe it was because we mostly worked on the bed at night after we were both exhausted after long days?  Who knows.  Regardless, please learn from our mistakes and keep your bed laying down!! 

I could not have made this bed without Mr. Clever Mom.  He did all of the cutting, sanding and painting on his own (I stayed away from the noises and fumes), and did the actual construction with my direction.  Though you could theoretically make this bed on your own, it is helpful to have a second person there to help hold and balance things, plus help you stay on track and keep your sense of humor!  Many many thanks to Mr. Clever Mom for creating this crazy project with me.  Every time we enter the clever girl's room, we both get a big sense of pride.  The clever girl LOVES her bed.  It's so big, she feel like a princess! 

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