Tuesday, March 26, 2019

I Made A Bed From Scratch All By Myself!

For those of you who've been reading my blog for a while already, you've known that I have a done a lot of building with wood before; much of my furniture is made from scratch. The thing is, all the projects were either done by my soon to be ex husband, Michael, completely, or as teamwork between myself and him. I learned how to build as a kid, having done various projects together with my family, including building a clubhouse in our backyard. And then being married to Michael who is really talented with building meant that I picked up a lot by osmosis, including how to use various tools that we didn't have when I was growing up. We built lots of furniture together, but in many of the cases, I helped with the planning and measuring, but the actual tool use was by him, with me holding the pieces together.

So a bed in my house broke. It was a bed that Michael and I built together, but when we were building it we were in a rush and only were using materials we had around the house, so we really didn't build it properly. The frame wasn't made from strong enough wood, and we kept saying we'd build it better someday, but that someday never came, and first it cracked and instead of rebuilding we just reinforced it with more screws and the next time it broke with more supports, but eventually it just completely disintegrated.

That bed needed to be replaced, and friends of mine suggested that I just buy a new one, or get a secondhand bed, but I didn't want to do that for quite a few reasons: even a cheap bed second hand bed would cost a lot once I pay movers to bring it; because of the dimensions of the room I needed the bed to have very specific dimensions, and because of the storage kept under the bed I needed it built a certain way. So I decided that I'd rebuild it. I knew how to do it because I'd been part of planning and building five beds already, and I had the right tools and know how to do it.

I called up the local hardware store owner and asked him if I could buy wood from him, and he said that he didn't have wood currently and couldn't order new wood for me for at least a few more weeks. Which meant that if I wanted to build a new bed for my house, I'd have to use the wood I already had. That made it more of a challenge.

I got to work taking apart the old bed, because I knew that I'd need many of those parts to build the new bed. Fortunately I discovered that we had some good strong boards that were left from our pergola we built, which I then was able to use for the frame of the bed.

And then I got stuck.

Not that I didn't know how to do it or what to do it, but honestly, I got emotionally stuck. I had never built a bed before on my own. I had never built on my own, period. It just felt wrong, since building was something I always did with someone else, as part of a team.

And then my front yard was just filled with boards for a few days, that I was unable to push myself to proceed with.

Today my friend came over to visit, and while she was there, I asked her if she'd be up to building this bed together. She was happy to. And with her being there, I was able to quickly pull the bed together using the various materials I had. Honestly I did it all myself, with a bit of help from my eldest son, Lee, but I just needed adult company and support to get over that emotional hurdle that was stopping me from building on my own.

I used some of the slats from the old bed, but since there weren't enough, and, in my opinion, the slats weren't completely strong enough (another issue with the old bed), I also used some other wood thicker wood I had lying around to make additional slats. I was also able to reuse the legs from the bed as well.

Making the bed was simple.

The old bed was actually build to fit the mattress, but we must have measured wrong because it ended up being wider than the mattress. This time I measured the mattress more correctly and ended up with a more narrow and perfectly fitting bed for the mattress, fortunately!

So all I did was measure how long the two longer boards from the frame should be, and how wide it should be, and used a circle saw (for the first time! I had to search the internet how to turn it on and use it, since I'd never done it before, just seen Michael use it) to cut it and the wood for the slats across the bed. I then used an electric sander to smooth it all down.

I then lay the shorter boards for the frame over the longer boards to make a rectangle. I then drilled holes and after that drilled the screws in, three per corner, to make them strong. (Most of these were screws I took out of the old bed, and was able to repurpose.) I positioned the slats across the width, then drilled holes and then screwed in two screws on each side. I then had the bed frame, and turned it over. In each case, I used screws that were just short enough so they wouldn't poke through the wood on the other side.

 I love these metals bracers that I discovered when we built my son's loft bed. They are so strong and they provide so much support and hold legs in place. I attached one to each leg for the bed, using five short screws to just go into the leg, and then positioned one in each corner of the bed and used five longer screws in each one, screws long enough to go through both pieces of wood in the bed corners.

Then I flipped the bed over, and decided to give the legs extra reinforcement. I drilled through both layers of wood in the corner and into the leg, twice into each leg, and then screwed extra long screws so that they'd reach into the three pieces of wood.

The bed is so nice and sturdy, and ended up being the perfect fit for the mattress!

The only expense for this bed ended up being five bucks for some extra screws that I needed.

From start to finish making the bed took less than two and a half hours, and that was including the trip to and from the hardware store for more screws, and also included letting my kids help sand and help screw, which obviously made it take longer.

All in all, I'm really proud of myself.

Also proud of myself for doing this, and doing it completely on my own, but also getting over my initial emotional block stopping me from doing this.

And the bed is so completely awesome.

I love building.

Oh, and if you want to know if you could build one yourself, the only tools I ended up using at all for this were:

An impact drill with a drill bit and a screwdriver bit. A circle saw. And an electric sander. A measuring tape. A pen. That's it! (My post on the bare minimum supplies needed to DIY pretty much reflects that. Those are pretty bare minimum and multifunctional, though you could do it without an electric sander or a circle saw, they just save a lot of time.)

Honestly, people spend so much money on beds, but building a bed from scratch is honestly pretty easy, simple, and straightforward. If you need a bed, I highly recommend building your own. Its very rewarding, fun, and frugal too!

Are you a builder? Do you usually build things by yourself or with a partner? Have you ever built beds before?


  1. Is your stbx going to be taking his tools eventually?

    1. Not sure yet what will be with the tools. We haven't worked out a divorce agreement yet and that'll have to be something to discuss.

  2. For the sake of your back and mattress fill in the spacing (not completely) between the boards for more support.

    1. It's actually pretty decent in terms of spacing and works just fine as is.

  3. Great job! This looks perfectly adequate for a bed and much sturdier than a lot of retail options available. We are thinking of making beds for our family and seeing how straight forward it can be is so encouraging! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Very well done! You now have the physical manifestation of having overcome your emotional reticence and you can enjoy the fruits of your labour for years to come! It will bring you joy and pride and so it should. I applaud you. You are a great example to your children too.

    1. Thank you! I get such a good feeling looking at it. I like your description, physical manifestation of my overcoming an emotional challenge.

  5. Wow, I am impressed that your first solo build is a real, human bed! Bravo! I like to tinker with wood and build (only smaller stuff up until now - no beds), it really gives you a sense of power, doesn't it?

    If you don't mind me asking, since the slats are not of the same thickness - does it affect the way mattress lies on top?

    1. I actually can't feel the difference in the wood slats at all. It lies totally flat and is really comfortable

  6. This puts me in the mood to create something. Thanks for your post. Way to go!

  7. Lol, agreed. It is absolutely ridiculous how short many of the projects on my procrastination list are. Sometimes it takes longer to write them down than it would be to just DO IT already!

  8. Having gone through a divorce myself recently, i understand all too well those emotional hurdles. Congratulations on your overcoming it. Soon you'll be sprinting those hurdles like a true olympian!


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