It’s been quite a while since I last wrote a post on here. I usually let Ally do all the writing because well, she’s just better at it. But I finally put the finishing touches on the bed I started building last fall and I wanted to share the process with you all!
We spent the first year of our marriage sleeping on a full size bed that Ally’s parents graciously gave to us. That was great for our 400-square-foot apartment, but eventually we decided that it was about time to invest in a piece of furniture that was sure to get plenty of use (Ally really appreciates 10 hours of sleep as often as possible). After checking out mattresses we decided on a King (yeah!) and realized that buying both a mattress and headboard/footboard/bed frame would be quite costly. Combine that with my eagerness to get into carpentry and we have the perfect opportunity for my first project.
At first glance it looks like a huge project, and really it is. But only in terms of size. As far as difficulty goes I’d put it in the medium category. That’s mostly due to the help I received from Ana-White.com. She specializes in Pottery Barn-like knockoffs done at home on the cheap. All the cuts and plans are there on the site, which makes buying materials for the project much easier. I used pine which is just about the cheapest stuff Lowe’s carried. Don’t feel like you have to really splurge for the expensive stuff. I’m a novice so once everything is stained I can barely tell the difference in the grains. Perhaps as I gather more experience I’ll develop more of an opinion, but for right now pine is good enough for me. Plus, most of Pottery Barn’s stuff is made of pine. As for tools, I was able to borrow a table saw and circular saw from a friend (thanks Lucas), and a carpenter’s square and cordless drill from our landlord. I went ahead and made the investment in a few clamps, a couple of saw horses, and a power sander. I had received a pocket hole jig from both sets of parents for Christmas the year before, so I experimented with that a bit to help hide some holes. It was fun.
Following the plan was pretty easy. If you think you might want to do this yourself here are a couple of tips.
- Have a friend around that can help you carry the headboard and footboard. It took me several evenings after work to put everything together and since it was all done in our backyard I had to make many many many trips in and out of the house. A friend makes things go much quicker. Also, even if you think you’re burly enough to carry the headboard around (I’m pointing to myself here), it is so awkwardly shaped that once it starts tilting one way it’s hard to correct its course. You don’t want to damage your project, so get a friend to help.
- Do whatever you can to find non-treated 4×4 posts. Lowe’s didn’t have any so I gave up and got the treated. So far we’ve been okay but I tricked myself into thinking waiting nine months to finish the bed would allow the treated lumber to dry out enough to take the stain. It took the stain okay, but definitely not as well as the rest of the bed. It was also a booger to drill into. You can sink screws into it but don’t try drilling a hole, it’s way too wet for that. Also, you have to be careful what screws you use because if they aren’t stainless steel they can corrode in the treated wood. Other types of screws work too, but do some research if you have to use treated lumber.
- Google is your friend. If you have a question, odds are you will be able to get it answered well enough by searching the internet that you will be able to carry forward. Pretty much everything I needed to know I found online.
For the stain we used Minwax’s Dark Walnut. To be honest I was a little concerned with how black it looked when it first went on the wood so we only did one coat. But I am pleased to report that adding a coat of matte polyurethane on top of the stain helped lighten it up just enough to pull out some of the warmth of the wood. I’m really happy with how the finish turned out. All in all, I think we spent about half of what we would have spent had we bought a similar piece at Pottery Barn. Plus, now I get to tell people I built it!
My favorite part of the project was definitely the measuring, the cutting, and the general assembly. But seeing the finished product in our room once the staining was complete filled me with such a sense of pride that well, I just had to blog about it.
Until next time, folks. If you have any questions feel free to comment and I’ll try my best to answer them.