Trial + Error = A Brand New Bed.

There was a time when Sara and I decided to invest in a new set of mattresses. We also got a new bedframe from IKEA – the Hemnes style in black/brown. It was nice, and for our first “grown-up” bed, it worked quite well. But we moved on. After graduating college, Sara’s brother Brian needed a bed frame, and Sara wanted something new, so he purchased our Hemnes queen-sized frame (as well as our black/brown Hemnes dresser and nightstand). It was a good switcheroo.

But, that meant that I got tabbed with the task of building us a new bed.

The build was set to be a fairly easy one, based on this platform bed design from Ana White. We chose to build our bed sans headboard, as Sara plans to DIY an upholstered headboard at some point post-baby no. 2’s arrival.


After much success with building our kitchen table, I again enlisted the help of my father for general guidance. We went and bought the wood and the hardware, and we got to building.

{Bad blogger announcement – there are no progress pictures. I have determined that I have no idea on how to take proper progression photos. When I’m building something, I’m zoned in, making cuts, staining wood, or drilling holes, and boom – it’s all ready for installation. Photos, what the heck?!}

So I’ll just talk about the project with words, because a thousand words is worth around one picture, right?

The First Weekend

First off, I’ve always heard the caution to “measure twice and cut once.” Typically, this plan works really well. However, if you’re using the wrong guide, you’re likely to also get the wrong cut. Whoops. We started the cuts using the directions we wrote out, but we later discovered that we were basing our cuts on a full-size bed, not a queen-size bed (the plans from Ana White provide both measurements, as well as measurements for a twin-size frame). It was early on a Saturday, and our brains weren’t thinking yet. So, we made a return trip to the lumber store and bought some more wood.

After returning home with the new boards in tow, we cut them to the right size, drilled pocket holes into them {again using our Kreg Jig, which we originally purchased for the kitchen table process}, and sanded them down as nicely as we could for being relatively cheap, soft lumber.

Staining the wood was a newer process for me. Sara choose a gray stain {specifically Classic Gray by Minwax} for the bed, which ended up looking very nice, but since I’ve never stained before, and since Sara {being pregnant} was not able to step in for me, I did what I could do.

So I stained. And stained. And stained…stainnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

I did…okay. The finish wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. All the boards got stained, including the boards that we cut wrong, which Sara decided to repurpose for shelves for the boys’ shared bedroom = score! One mistake turned into a positive.

The Second Weekend

After the stain dried and another weekend arrived, I set out to assemble the bed. Piece by piece, I laid out the wood and started screwing the bed pieces together.

But then, I noticed a problem. A major problem. The boards had warped. These boards that fit in the garage were no longer aligned, most likely due to the fact that A) the wood was relatively inexpensive and not the best quality, and B) the difference in humidity between our garage and the lumberyard.

I fretted for a while, but then decided that with some extra sanding, we could save this wood. It was worth a shot, since otherwise, we’d be back to square one {and we already had to buy more wood than we originally planned on, with our goof-up during the cutting phase}.

I assembled the bed inside our bedroom in the house – a necessity, since a bed frame, when assembled, is a monstrosity that can’t fit through a standard doorway. With some glue and some luck, the plan to salvage the boards worked well {apart from the fact that the sanding process had to happen inside the house – MESSY. I don’t recommend it.}

I put on the finishing “caps” around the top edges of the bed, and man, it looked good; Sara and I were both quite excited. Then, it was time to screw on the legs.

The legs went on just fine, but immediately after attaching them, it became clear that stability was quickly an issue. The bed was rather wobbly and squeaky, so back to the the drawing board we went!

My dad’s solution to the wobbly bed legs involved getting a new 4×4 board and cutting the legs so that part of the frame of the bed can rest on the legs, instead of being screwed into the side. The cutting and tapering of these legs was a two- to three-week process, but we got it done.

The Third Weekend

Once the legs were cut and tapered, I stained them. And stained. And stained…

The Fourth Weekend

The legs were finally dry and finished to my {well, really to Sara’s} standards, so I brought to the bedroom the glue, my screws, and my new drill that I had gotten for my birthday, and I went to work putting together the bed.

I let the glue and the screws set for a day; meanwhile, we moved our mattresses to the living room, where we camped out for the week.

During the Fifth Week

Throughout this past week, I added additional screws to the legs to stabilize the bed. I then had to do more sanding and wood-filling, since the boards had warped. Of course, with sanding comes more staining.

Oh, the staining. Rinse, repeat, agony. {Yes, I get my sense of dramatics from my wife, thank you.}

The Fifth Weekend

After working on the sanding and staining process all week long, the finish was finally up to par with what we were hoping for {with the exception of one spot on the frame – darn knots in the wood!}. The plan for the new legs worked famously – our bed now features not a wobble, squeak or shake.

Either way, we FINALLY slept on our platform bed this past weekend, and it was a rousing SUCCESS to A) finally be sleeping in an actual bed again, and to B) be sleeping in a bed that I built with my own two hands.

Take a look:




Project Takeaways

This project offered a few lessons:

1. Buy better-quality wood. Our options for high-quality wood are quite limited here in South Dakota; even though the Black Hills of SD are full of pine wood, the quality can be hit or miss at times, as we discovered with this project.

2. Buy the wood earlier in the building/planning process, so that you have time to let it set in your home/garage to accustom to your environment. If it warps horribly, replace it.

3. Staining should be left to my wife. While spray painting is apparently a skill I have {more info on this to come!}, that’s where it ends. {Sara’s Edit: I’ve never stained, either…}

Anyway, we’re very happy with the fact that the bed is finally DONE, and we’re so pleased with the look and the quality of the platform-style frame. Sure, we’d do a few things differently next time around, but it, like building the kitchen table, was a learning process from start to finish.

Master Bedroom To-Do List:

Here’s what’s left on the good ol’ Listy McListerson for our Master Bedroom:

– paint (indigo)

– accent/repaint tray ceiling

– add end table

– hang curtain rod and curtains

– add seating area

– purchase new duvet cover, shams, accent pillows

– sell IKEA Hemnes bed, dresser and nightstand {to my brother!}

– DIY a bed

– make a haven for baby no. 2 in master bedroom {mood board to come!}

– DIY a sunburst mirror using wood shims

– add art

– remove and sell the ceiling fan {to Sara’s parents!}; add a chandelier

– add sconces flanking the bed

– DIY a tufted, upholstered headboard

– paint interior of closet a fun color {wine? emerald?} or add wallpaper/DIY a stenciled paint treatment

About Jord

jord considers himself nerdy, mostly because he's a devoted gamer and freelance web designer. he works in computer technology and information services, but he'd be most proud to tell you that he recently built himself a computer, loves audio books, trying new beer and wine, grilling, and is so excited to have added "homeowner" to his list of titles.
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