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Queen Bed Frame

author-gravatar Clock_Man Aug 19, 2018

A bed frame has always been on the laundry list of projects that I've been wanting to make simply because we've never had anything more than a steel support frame for our box spring. I also made a bed for a client years ago and have been secretly bitter that my first bed frame was for someone else and not for me. 

The design is from Marc Spagnuolo's site but altered to fit a queen mattress. Shrinking it down made things a lot more manageable in my small shop, but it was still quite a bit to move around.  My bed shares the cherry frame that Marc used, but per my wife's request I made a swap of the walnut panels for some curly soft maple I picked up at a very good price at my local hardwood dealer. #bedframe #curlymaple

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

The raw sketchup for the project looked pretty promising. Altering this to fit a queen mattress was fairly straightforward. All I had to do was pull in each corner by the difference in width/2. Because it's CAD the joinery was all preserved as well, but most of that worked out without having to reference the sketchup design.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

The cherry I got for this was in pretty rough shape. I got it on a deal with a friend in the lumber business at a decent price. If the piece was something a little more prominent in the home I would have been more picky about what lumber I was using.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

First steps are breaking down to rough lengths. I could easily use a jig or circular saw for this, but handsawing is a lot more enjoyable and I don't have to wear hearing protection.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I like to use my wood try square to lay out rough cuts like this. I don't need a machinist combo square to get things roughed out and this way I don't have to fuss over the extreme accuracy of this square. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I'm frankly surprised that I can saw to a line for how infrequent I do this. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

The trick to sawing straight on a cut like this is looking at the reflection on the board in the plate of the saw. If you're cutting straight you should see the board continue on straight through the reflection of the saw.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

You can see easier with the pencil how despite being obscured by the saw plate, the board is 'seen' in the reflection as it would be if the saw wasn't there. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Even though I put everything across the jointer, I like to hit it with my BU No. 7 to take out any machine marks before I glue up.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Leg blanks ready to glue up. I chose to avoid any fancy arrangement for face-grain on all sides because the tops will be exposed.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

After the 4 legs were glued together I chose to resquare them as I've learned that lesson the hard way in the past thinking something like this will remain square off the tablesaw.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Jointer fence looks good.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Pretty clear indication that it's good to rejoint sides square before planing down the legs to final dimension. Glad I remembered to catch this one.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Jointing and planing everything for this project is a pain. The size and weight are just a huge burden to deal with. I chose to plane all the boards before cutting them down to their respective widths to save on overall planer time.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

This was a definite 'move the planer' situation to get the needed infeed and outfeed.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Just an idea of the amount of raw lumber required for this bed. I will say I had to do a lot of milling to get down from the rough outer layer to get some consistent color in the cherry.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I only had to lay out the joinery in one of the two sets, the router setup will keep the other on track.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

One of the legs had an unfortunate knot. I was able to hide it on the inside, but I'll have to deal with the soft material later.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

It's at this point that I'd like to introduce you to the central theme of this build: Fixing dumb mistakes. I busted out the iron to steam out dents more on this bed than I ever have on any other project.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Determined to have accurate mortises on the legs, I used the blue tape & Superglue trick to create an auxiliary fence on my router. Place blue tape on both mating surfaces and superglue inbetween creates an incredibly strong hold.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I placed the block while the router was in place so I had an exact fit.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Now I don't have to worry about the router wandering while I make cuts. I always try to cut in the proper direction, but real life happens quite a bit.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Clean and accurate mortises!

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Each of the mortises were the same distance from the edge, so to cut them I just came in from both sides to get them sized to the plan.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame
Photo of Queen Bed Frame

It's good to check that everything matches, just in case you need to make some last minute repairs.


Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Marking the rails for tenon thickness. I like a good visual indicator for when I'm making the test cuts on the tablesaw.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

First try was a hair too wide, so I'll move the blade up a tiny bit and give it another go.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Nice and snug here. Now I just hold all the settings and 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I didn't have a good way to support the long pieces, so I clamped board to the fence of the crosscut sled that will lock the rail in place to give me some staying power to the sled.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Just about perfect results here. Just a little cleanup with a plane should bring them to the scribe line.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Faces are all cut to correct thickness.    

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Thankfully the ends were the same relief distance as the faces, so I didn't have to change the settings of the saw.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I find it easier to round over the corners of the tenons vs squaring up the mortises, so this is the first of 12 tenons to get fit to it's respective mortise.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

First leg complete.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

This is what a fit tenon will look like. I like to use a chisel and rasp to get the corners rounded over quickly and accurately.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

My tenon fitting arsenal. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Footboard together. Finally seeing the scale of this whole thing.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Head and foot boards together. They'll stay like this for most of the time that I'm not working on them. Helps keep things off the floor and getting damaged.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Another reason I like to keep the pieces assembled is that I can use those dimensions to cut and fit all other components to the design. That way I can account for minor changes in the design and avoid loose stuff.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I could have done integral tenons, but the domino is fast, easy, and just as structurally sound.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Now I have "integral" tenons!

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Rails and stretchers are fit and in place.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Each leg requires a shallow mortise to accept the mattress support rail that will connect the head and footboards.     

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

As these are visible, at least a portion of the time, I like to take the time to square up the mortises. It just looks prettier.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame
Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Because I used a router bit to make the long groove, I had to make sure my next grooves cut on the table saw were going to be the same size as well. I used the router bit itself to gauge the cut. This was the second test cut which proved to be extremely close if not exactly the same width.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Testing the grooves in the rail against the grooves in the stiles. They had to line up exactly to ensure a good fit. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Next was creating grooves to capture the panels. Hardest part here was just making sure that the groove was in the exact center of the rail.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame
Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Resulting fit is perfect.


Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I put the whole section together again to make sure all corners were looking good.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Both head and footboard grooves lined up. Feeling good.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

When planning the bed, I wanted to use walnut as an accent as it's already featured in a lot of our furniture in the house, but my wife wanted something lighter. I agreed to use some maple, but wanted to include some visual excitement to help offset the cherry. I was able to pick through the pile at my local hardwood supplier and grab the two curliest maple boards they had. I was over the moon after I took it over the jointer to get a proper look at the figure.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I chose to do a bookmatch on the panels as I didn't have boards wide enough to do a single for the panels. I resawed the material to 1/2" and then planed to final thickness from there. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I followed the blue tape method to keep the seam tight during the glue up of the panels. This keeps them tight and from wandering around.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Using cauls is an absolute necessity to keep panels flat while in the clamps. I jointed all these and covered them in packing tape to keep them from adhering to the panel/glue.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I used cauls on every panel, even the smaller ones for the headboard. I only had one shot with the material at hand and I didn't want t to ruin it.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I dropped all pretense of being able to handplane these surfaces without tearout. Even using my high angle smoother I would have torn out or left tracks. Before this the panels took a trip through my friend's drum sander to help even everything out. The drum left deep grooves in the panel so I had to take the panels through 80-120-180-220-320 grit to get all the scratches out. This is probably the most I've sanded in years.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

To get the right fit, I used a pair of story sticks to measure the final distance from groove to groove. This avoids any kind of guess work involved with trying to use a tape measure. I was able to get the exact widths and pull back measurements where I needed for seasonal movement.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I honestly don't know what I was doing in this shot. Probably cleaning up the edge to make it ready for trimming to width/length.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

The grooves in the frame were 1/4", but I was not satisfied in the strength of 1/4" panels. To give myself a little more meat I left the panels at 3/8" and planed a rabbet in the edges to get down to the 1/4". I was able to utilize my skew rabbet plane to fit each side to their own grooves.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I made sure to chisel in a small relief in the rabbet edge on the cross grain edges to avoid spelching out the back.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I ended up putting a relief chamfer in each rabbet because I got blowout on the second long grain edge.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

First panel fit, looks great.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Testing the final width of the large panels.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I'll take a pile of shavings over a shop of dust any day.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

The top rails both received a shallow curve from end to end. I roughed these in on the bandsaw, but they were not even. This was a perfect chance to make a flexible sanding strip to cut down the high spots. I followed the instructions from Marc Spagnuolo and the strip worked fantastically. I will stick around for sure.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

First dry fit of the headboard, moving along fairly well.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

The two components I was looking forward to the least were the connecting support rails. At over 6' long they'd be the longest parts of the bed. I tried to save the straightest boards for these, but they still had some twist. Instead of trying to flatten these on my jointer that has shorter beds, I use my jack plane to knock down the high corners as much as I could to avoid making it worse trying to do it on the jointer.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Jointing and planing turned out okay in the end.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Even at 6' long I managed to get a square cut with my crosscut sled. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I couldn't cut these tenons on the saw so I have to do it by hand. Scribing in the lines here so I know where everything needs to land.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame
Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I set a fence up so I could ensure a straight cut with my handsaw. I'm using my sash saw for this which is an all around good saw with a combo filing so I can cross and rip cut.    

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Better view of how the fence is guiding me here. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

After using the fence on both long sides I cut the short ends by hand as that would be easy to get right with both ends as reference.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

With  the shoulder defined I can simply chop away the waste of the tenon with a wide chisel. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I used my 1" chisel and made quick work of all the sides. This might be worrysome if the grain was wild, but with moderate to straight grain it's no big deal.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

After roughing in the tenon I used my shoulder plane to even the surfaces and cut it down to my scribed marks. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame
Photo of Queen Bed Frame

At this point I made up a small sample piece with a matching mortise that is found in the legs. This way I can make test fits and not have to heft the legs up and down every time. It saves my back and the legs from getting banged up.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

"Like a glove!" 

-Ace Ventura

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

My son showing me how to set a holdfast with a push block. So innovative these young ones.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

This was a risky setup, but I wanted to see what this thing was going to look like. Those rails have just about 3/4" holding them in the legs, so once I got photos I meticulously pulled everything apart and put it back up against the wall.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Onto the rail connecting hardware. I know there are hook systems available, but I've never been comfortable with the stability of those. I've been a longtime fan of bed bolts, but don't like the need for them to go all the way through the leg of the headboard. I got around that restriction in the past by making faux through tenons to cap them off, but I wanted to keep the clean look of this leg. I'm going with a system that is essentially a threaded rod secured into the head/footboard which is secured by a bolt in the rails. Here you can see where I've marked out the slot for the bolt/washer and I've already made the hole for the rod to slide into.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I routed out the pocket using my edgeguide and a few layout lines. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

A good view of where the hole intersects the pocket.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I used the small block as a drill guide to make sure I was getting straight holes in the long rails. It worked like a charm!

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

This allowed me to use the drill press to get a straight and accurate hole all the way through the sample block.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I used the WoodWhisperer Thread Taps to get the holes in the legs threaded. These are longer than traditional taps and have bigger flutes to evacuate more chips.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

You can see the threads are pretty crisp when they're cut. They're plenty strong on their own, but I go the extra mile and put thin CA glue down the sides to dry in the threads. This hardens them up and I just need to run the tap down one more time to clean them up again. They're essentially rock solid after this point.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I chose to not permanently fix the rod into the leg because I want the ability to disassemble the bed for transport without having giant pieces of metal jutting out of the headboard and footboard.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

This is how the final assembly will look.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Gluing on the support for the box spring rails

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I wanted a full platform under the bed, not for any specific reason, I think it just looks better. 

I managed to forget that the space between rails was 62" and not 60". Most of these ended up at a rough 61". :| I'll likely re-make these to full width later, or maybe I won't. Who knows?

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

All slats got a ship lap to keep them from having gaps between each other.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

With all joinery cut, I roughed in the tapers on the 'feet' of the legs. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

After roughing in, I smoothed them up with the jack.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I also put a heavy chamfer on the bottoms of the legs to avoid the sides chipping out if the frame is dragged on the floor.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Something that bothered me from the beginning was that one of the tenons had a loose fit in the leg. It wasn't flopping around, but it was clear that I made the tenon 1/32" too small. I had 2 other tight joints on that leg, but I wasn't ready to take any chances. What I did was cut a thin slice of veneer on the bandsaw and glued it to the side of the tenon to beef it up again.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

After the glue was try, I went back with my shoulder plane and rasps to get it down to fit the mortise again. I was happy to not concede on the quality of the piece without the need to remake a whole component. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Finishing....oh finishing how I hate it. With so many large pieces I chose to pre-finish everything. It was much better than trying to do it all assembled. The whole process took over a week.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

The panels turned out better than expected. They did yellow more than I wanted, but the cherry will darken over time and provide more contrast.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I made sure to tape off joinery to ensure good glue adhesion. You can also see that I hit all corners with a 1/8" roundover. I don't like the look of rounded edges, but this was done for the sake of safety/comfort and not bashing my leg open on a corner in the middle of the night. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

My longest clamps were 3" too short and I wasn't in the mood to go buy longer pipes for my pipe clamps. I went with ratchet straps which worked well enough.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

The last casualty was from my own slippery fingers as I fumbled the headboard stretcher over the stiles. I sanded it out, but it's still very apparent when looking at the bed. It's ironic that all the big mistakes on the bed are on my side. Probably symbolic of something, but it's fitting that this one sits right above my head every night to remind me that being complacent at any point can lead to undesired consequences. 

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

I've seen more creative clamping solutions, but this one is up there. I crushed the sacrificial blocks with the ratchet straps, was a good call putting them there.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame
Photo of Queen Bed Frame

First full assembly! Looking great!

Photo of Queen Bed Frame
Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Almost an afterthought. I made sure to sneak my brand in on the back of the headboard. Maybe someone will remember who made this.

Photo of Queen Bed Frame

Mattress installed and ready for a good night's rest. While taller than our previous metal frame, it is just what we wanted. The cherry is still quite pale, but will darken up over the coming summer months and provide a nice contrast against the maple.

2 comments

Scott, you did a phenomenal job on the bed. The two species compliment each other very well and the grain on that maple is beautiful. Great job!

Scott, you really let your full woodworking skill-set shine on this one.

Impeccable workmanship buddy. It looks like the last bed frame you'll ever need.

The write-up is on point too.

-Tim

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