Building a Bed
In August I took two weeks to build a new bed for my partner and me. From wood and completely on my own.
This project I had in mind for over a year already. It would be my dream to build my own bed and the concept was shaped over one year until I realized that this year I would have to make that real or it would never happen. So I started getting serious about the planning, draw construction sketches and talked with several people who know more than me about wood construction. This already was an amazing research and made me happy as I had so much to learn. But a bit of anxiety also grew as I realized that building a bed is something totally different than any of these smaller wood project’s I’ve done so far.
One of the goals was to learn a lot more about working with wood and the tools. Another one was to build a bed from and with wood only—no metal, no screw built-in. When you think of this, it first seems not hard but the little details make you realize why most beds include some metal parts (mostly for the links in the corners). Lastly, I planned to use some wood that I’ve never worked with, a local wood available in Germany—Ash.
Again, I had no real clue how to work with Ash wood. But I found a very nice dealer who let me choose the planks which still had dull edges. At that point I realized how much work this project would be and what nice kind of wood I’d chosen here.
How do you transform a rough plank into a ready to use wooden board? Theoretically I knew about this but I realized that doing that at home with my limited toolset (which in fact is not very limited but also no joiner workshop) this wouldn’t be possible. Luckily, the carpenter nearby agreed to help me and together we cut the boards on their big panel saw and sent it through the thicknessing planer.
It’s easy to think that using the circular saw or overhead template router is the best option. What I realized though is how important and useful manual tools are, especially when it’s a difficult step.
When I planned the bed I thought most steps would be done with some machinery. It’s easy to think that using the circular saw or overhead template router is the best option. What I realized though is how important and useful manual tools are, especially when it’s a difficult step.
I learned to hand-plane, I learned how to use my Japanese saws properly and many many other things. I learned how relaxing using hand-tools is in comparison to the loud and fast machines. In the end, I think I’ve manufactured about 60% with manual tools and about 40% with electric help.
So what was the price for this, you may wonder. The goal was not to produce a bed that’s cheaper than if I’d bought an comparable bed. The goal was to learn a lot from this project and to build the bed exactly how I imagined it to be. That allowed me to buy a lot of useful tools that I didn’t have before and could make use of in future as well. Even with a new sanding-machine, a couple of Japanese and European manual planes, a new saw, a couple of drills, a milling cutter for the wood connectors I ended up being at about the same price as a bought bed.
The finish of the bed is a natural oil (“Auro Hartöl”).
The entire bed took me about (estimated) 100 hours of work. For me it’s not a lot—I enjoyed most of the time and learned so much.
Now here are some (random) pictures of how it’s made and how it looks like now.