Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Joseph’s Walnut Bed with Storage

It’s funny how one home project often turns into many. My wife and I replaced old, mismatched carpeting in our bedrooms with beautiful 3/4″ American cherry hardwood flooring. After seeing how much better our bedroom looked without the faux oak dresser and chest of drawers, there was no way I could be convinced to move them back. After much discussion, we came to a compromise. I would make a bed and nightstands with storage as long as I built a closet organizer and we could keep the dresser and chest of drawers in the spare bedroom. It was a win win situation: I got more projects to work on and my wife got more storage. Best of all, the bedroom was no longer cramped with ugly furniture.

We visited many furniture stores to get ideas. I found that most storage beds didn’t utilize all the space under the bed. Most only had drawers on one side or at the foot. We finally found a bed with the look we wanted and I went to work using Sketchup to come up with a plan. The final design included 2 large drawers on either side and 3 smaller drawers at the foot.

I built the bed in pieces for easy portability. The main structure has 3 parts joined together at the top and bottom with long planks that fit into pegs and then get screwed down. The drawers are installed with full extension drawer slides. The apron that holds the mattress is attached to a plank on the back side which gets pegged and screwed to each section of the bed frame. The apron corners are also joined together with loose wooden dowels. The headboard is a friction fit that slides down into wood joints at the head of the bed. Two sheets of 1/2″ MDF provide full support for the mattress when placed on top of the frame. The fully assembled bed is very solid which is good because if it were to get out of square, the drawers wouldn’t function properly.

For the exterior I used 3/4″ walnut veneer plywood with walnut veneer edge banding. I also used our 3/4″ cherry hardwood flooring as an accent at the top of the drawer fronts and headboard. I purchased pre-finished birch drawer sides with a pre-cut 1/4″ groove and 1/4″ Baltic birch plywood to construct the drawers. I used a rabbet and dado to join all sides of the drawers keeping the Baltic birch bottom sitting loose in the 1/4″ groove. The walnut fronts were attached to the drawer boxes after everything was assembled. The internal structure was constructed with a combination of the pre-finished birch drawer sides and laminated pine project boards. The headboard uprights were made by laminating 3 pine 1×4’s then adding a walnut veneer to the faces.

Everything was sanded to 220 then I started with a coat of boiled linseed oil over just the walnut and cherry. I followed that up with 3 coats of wipe on poly, sanding with 320 then 400 between coats. After that I used a very fine scotch-bright pad and two coats of a beeswax and orange oil wood polish. So my clothes wouldn’t smell like an oil based finish, I used a couple coats of shellac on the interiors of the drawers. All other parts were given 2 coats of wipe-on poly just to protect against moisture. My wife and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. I love the feeling I get every morning when I wake up in something I designed and built from scratch.

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