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Bed Design Questions

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  • Bed Design Questions

    Good morning - I've finally have the guts to take on a project without plans! Sort of. I'm making new bedrooom furniture for my daughter, based on some pieces that my wife found on

    My first piece will be the bed, which seems relatively straightforward, but I do have several questions. I've attached a link to the picture of the bed, which has what appear to be tongue & groove paneling for the headboard, footboard, and side rails.

    Pottery Barn - Thomas Bed Picture

    1) Will the tongue and groove joinery be sturdy enough? I assume most of the panels float in the grooves. Are the center panels glued so they add further support? Or are all of the head/footboard/rail panels joined together and the grooves are just routered in. Wouldn't this method pose expansion problems?

    2) I'm building it out of 4/4 poplar, and then painting. The rails appear to be 3/4", what thickness should I make the panels on the inside, 1/2"?

    3) Last question - for the corner posts, I have some 8/4 poplar, but this doesn't look to be big enough. Any thoughts on how to build up a more substantial corner post?

    I'd greatly appreaciate any help.


  • #2
    Hi Blimbert,

    Poplar is a soft wood and you may want to build with something stronger.

    The head board and foot board may have a stile and rail construction with floating panels (or toung and groove strips). Of course they could also be sheets of MDF that have been routed or even stamped in a chinese factory and then vaccume covered with a "simulated wood grain paper".

    If you build a floating system, do not gule the panels - otherwise they will not be floating.

    A tip for "cheating" on the creation of the head board and foot board is to go to an architectural salvage yard and find a mathching set of pocket doors. Use one for the head board and the other for the footboard.

    It looks like in the picture, that the corner posts are three by three or four by four. I guess you could glue up two peices of your 2" wood to build them up to size.

    If you are going to use poplar I would suggest a slightly thicker stock for the rail. Maybe 1.25" and 3/4"

    Have you thought about going to the local library to see if they have any books on bed or furniture construction?

    [ 02-12-2004, 08:58 AM: Message edited by: Desmo888 ]


    • #3
      Just built a single for my son, my own design.
      The wood is pine, yes it is a bit soft but 3 coats of Minwax helps. I built my daughters bed out of pine and it is a queen size with same thickness of bed rails and it looks great after 5 years and a move!
      foot posts are 3.25" X 3.25" X 23.5"
      bottom foot rail 6 X 36.75 X 1.5 + 2" for tennons
      top foot rail 3 X 36.75 X 3 + 2
      foot panels 9 X 17.75 X 0.75 ( 0.5 sits in dado all around)
      foot style 3 X 8 x 1.5 + 1
      top of foot board 4.25 X 46.25 X 1.5
      The bed rails 6 X 75 X 1.5
      Head board dimentions are the same except for the following...
      Head post 36 tall
      Head panels 21.5 high
      Head style 21.5 high
      I would include the measured drawing at the end of the show but they are just rough hand sketches
      Here are some pics to help... I hope just created the page


      • #4
        sorry about my experimentation ... trying to get the pics to show up in the thread

        [ 02-12-2004, 09:47 PM: Message edited by: wbrooks ]


        • #5
          Thanks for the advice desmo and wbrooks - it's much appreciated. Excellent work wbrooks! I like your original design, but I think I'm going to stick with the pottery barn style. It makes my new jointer purchase justifiable given the pottery barn bed is $800!!!



          • #6
            I saw the pottery bed and like that design as well. I was looking at bun feet and ball tops but wanted to make it all in the shop and since I don't have a lathe yet ( wife wants bun feet for our bed He He ) I went with the straight lines concept.
            Just wanted to show you that softwood beds work well.
            Just noticed that you mentioned poplar as your build wood. I find it is great for machining and plenty strong enough if dimentioned like pine, just watch when you buy the wood if you plan on staining it with a light colour as the sap wood can have a green tint to it and will throw off your stain colour