I’d been looking on the web for inspiration for a platform bed with drawers, but in the end it was a bed in Marfa, Texas that inspired this one. (I later discovered that bed was from Ikea – mixed feelings about that discovery!)
This was the first time I’ve made anything from non-big box store lumber, and the first time I worked from my own design, so you can bet plenty of mistakes were made!
I knew I wanted to use reclaimed lumber for this, and in Texas that generally means pine. I kept an eye on Craigslist, and eventually found these guys in Johnson City which had a bunch of long-leaf pine from a 1930’s school house. They were so nice, they even cut the boards to fit in my SUV (max 8ft lengths) and then let me keep the offcuts for experimenting with. I spent about $300 for the wood, and should have enough left over to make side tables.
I knew I wanted these boards thick – so I settled on 1 1/8, and began to plane them all down from 1 1/2. That took quite a bit of time, and also two sets of planer blades. The pine tended to gum up the blades, and I had to clean the rollers a couple of times to keep things moving. I bought the planer just for this project, but it didn’t take long for me to get used to cleaning the rollers and plates and learn how to change out the blades. I did have a little trouble with snipe, but figured I would so kept everything extra long so I could avoid it when cutting to length. I wish the boards had been a little wider, primarily because it limited the height of the drawers, which ended up only being about 5.25 deep, I think. Shallow, but on the other hand, they’re huge.
I knew I wanted to try a rather unusual 45 angle joint (another reason for wanting extra thick wood), and wasn’t sure how it would hold together, but finally decided to use dowels. I totally guessed at how often to place them, but settled on about 6 inches. Getting the boards positioned was a bit tricky – I could have used another 4 clamps at least. But in the end I made a little support system to hold the boards up while they were being drilled, doweled and glued. That worked pretty good, but there are places where i can see that they boards could have come together more tightly. I employed every clamp I had, but for a project this size, I simply needed more. I would have realized that before except for another unexpected consequence of making something this size: I had to work on the floor, and this sorely impaired my ability to see what I was doing.
This inability to see caused quite an issue later – the middle support seen in the photo above (2×6 pine cut down) was off by about 1/8 of an inch on one side. And since it had been attached prior to the top rails, could not be moved. What this meant later was that I’d have to make two different size drawers – one set in front, and another slightly bigger set in back. Total pain in the ass. Rather than use drawer hardware, which would stick out and be a problem, I made a template of hardboard, and used the router to make the hand holds for the drawer fronts.
In the above picture, you can see a few of the slats in place. Getting the ends rabbited so that they would fit in the rabbit already in the top rails was also a pain, and took many tries for me to get the right combination of depth and inset.
I don’t have pictures, but I put it up on sawhorses to attach the base and finish. I didn’t miter the base pieces, thinking they wouldn’t be visible. But they are, and now I wish I had. I used the kreg drill bit to drill inset holes in the base and attached with big head screws. I finished it with several coats of shellac and then a couple of coats of wax. It’s heavy, but not impossible to wrangle. So far it’s holding up fine, and the extra storage for sheets and stuff is handy.