My DIY Solid Walnut Bedframe

9 Materials
$1100
3 Days
Advanced
My friend just bought a new place and was looking spruce up his bedroom with a new bed frame. After checking a few store he was having a hard time finding something that he really liked, so naturally he turned to me, his friend who runs a DIY website, to help him build a custom bed frame.

He plied me with compliments and offers of free food. I caved pretty quickly because I needed new photos for my instagram ( https://www.instagram.com/zacharyms/) and content for my website. My only condition was that he had to join me in the shop and help me build it, which he begrudgingly accepted..... Just kidding, he really wanted to help from the start.
We started our project with a very expensive trip to the lumber mill. We tried to economize as much as possible, but in the end it cost us almost $800 in lumber alone.

The majority of the lumber you see here is 6/4 Walnut and a couple of piece of 4/4 walnut too. The widths vary from piece to piece but most are in the range of 6-8" wide. Most pieces were 6-7' long. We also used some regular spruce 2x4s and a single 2x8, but they aren't pictured here because spruce is boring and no one wants to see that.
Step one was to use my planer to plane the surface of all the walnut. The planing process removes thin layers of the wood for it's highest points thereby flattening and removing any cupping from the wood. Each piece of wood had to be run through the planer 10-12 times, so this took a couple of hours.

This walnut was pretty rough and needed a lot of planing before it was usable. It really helped having another person to do this though. I'd grab a piece of wood, feed it run it into the machine and he'd receive it on the other side. If I had been working alone this would've taken me a lot longer.
Whewwwww, all the prep work is over. It took us the better part of a day but all of our wood was planed, straightened and ready to glue together. The pieces in the foreground make up the head board and the piece in the background make up the foot board.

We spent a lot of time picking our favorite pieces of wood and planning where they would go so as to be as visible as possible. The boring pieces were relegated to the bottom of the headboard. The best pieces went to the top of the headboard and to the foot board.

All of the piece were approximately 72" long at this point. A little longer than we needed for either the headboard or the foot board but we'll cut them to exact size once they are all glued together.
We applied some glue and with the wood loosely fit together it was time to bring out the clamps! Normally its a little bit of a race against time to get the clamps on before the glue sets up, but having a helper really made this a lot easier.

Of course, because its good practice, I still pre-set all of my clamps to the right width before we started gluing. When you're working alone doing this can save you precocious seconds and make the difference between a good glue up and a sticky mess.
Once we had de-clamped the headboard and footboard I used my track saw to ends off of the headboard.

Once it was all said and done we were left with a headboard that was 36" high and 68" wide.

The footboard on the other hand was 16" high and 64" wide.
With our headboard now fully assembled it was time to do some serious sanding. No matter how good your glue up is there will always be some sanding. It was right about this point when I was wishing I had a giant planer I could run the whole headboard through. Guess I'll just settle for a belt sander :)

Again having someone else working with me really helped to speed this process up. We sanded until the whole headboard was silky smooth.
To make the sideboards for the bed frame I laminated together two pieces of 1" thick walnut and a 2x4 with a small notch cut into it. The sideboards were 80" long.
To connect the sideboards to the headboard and the footboard I used these mating plates. Here I've already attached one to a sideboard.
Then I had to install the matching plates on the headboard and footboard. To ensure a flush hit I had to mortise the plates into the wood a little bit as you can see in this picture.
With all of the cutting, drilling, and sanding out of the way it was time to start finishing.

I used a satin hybrid oil and water varnish to clear coat the bedframe. This is my standard finish that I like to use on a lot of furniture. It's tough (because it's meant to be used as a floor varnish) and gives a nice easy to clean finish that has just a hint of gloss. It also adds a nice warm tone to the wood.
Hope you guys like fisheye! I needed to bust out my super wide angle lens for this part of the build. Here we are back in my friends new condo and assembling the bed frame. The sideboards simply click into the headboard and footboard, so this part was pretty much just plug and play.
Once the frame was assembled we had to install some 1x6 spruce as slats to support the mattress.
Here it is all assembled. Only thing we have to do now is dress it up so it looks like a real bed and take some photos!

Mattress: Check
Duvet: Check
End of bed extra blanket: Check
Lights: Check
Background Plant: Check

Ahhh thats better. Looks more like a real bedroom now.
The bed actually has a little bit of storage that's easily accessible underneath it. Enough spaces for a couple of pairs of shoes or some spare blankets.

Originally I wanted the sideboards to go all the way down to the floor but my friend insisted we keep them up to avoid having a dust catch. In the end I think he was right, but I'd never tell him that.

Hope you guys enjoyed this build. It was a lot of fun and definitely one of my favorites. My blog is linked below and I have a more detailed guide on how I built this bed frame on there with measurements and more many more photos. Check it out!

Let me know if you have any questions and I'd be happy to answer them!

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3 of 4 questions
  • Renee Renee on Aug 14, 2018

    That is really beautiful. What size would you say the finished bed is, queen or king?

  • Suzanne Suzanne on Mar 16, 2019

    Where can I find the hardware/metal plates for the side rails?

  • B B on Mar 20, 2021

    I love this! Thank you. My question is what did you use for the wood finish? And did you stain it? You wrote that you used a "satin hybrid oil and water varnish". I have a coffee table project (and now a bed frame project!) and I want a very clear finish that's very sturdy and won't yellow over time. Suggestions?

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