Cozy Bed

Comments (0)

This article is from Issue 72 of Woodcraft Magazine.

LED there be light. The author’s bed includes optional LED lighting recessed in the headboard.

Build this comfy bed for sleeping, reading, or lounging...with storage galore!

You can sleep, read or simply lounge in style with this comfy bed made from cherry, with headboard slats of quartersawn sycamore. A comfortable, beautiful bed will bring plenty of enjoyment, so it’s definitely a worthwhile project.

One of my goals when designing this bed was to maintain a good mattress height, while offering maximum under-bed storage. To that end, the design uses a single mattress (no box spring), keeping the overall height to about 18" when compressed—about the same as a standard chair seat. The dimensions shown here are for a 60" × 80" queen bed; feel free to upsize or downsize the parts, adding 16" to the width where noted for a king, or deducting 6" from the width and 5" from the length for a full (double) mattress.

Thanks to state-of-the-art lighting from Hafele, the curving headboard houses special LED (light-emitting diode) light fixtures. These tiny but powerful lights can provide bright illumination for serious reading, but are also dimmable to a low glow. Touch-sensitive switches eliminate the need for standard push-type switches for the LEDs. (See Buyer’s Guide, page 61.) Below the bed are four generous drawers that run on full-extension, undermount slides. Pull out a drawer, and a motion-sensitive LED lights up automatically. It then turns off when you close the drawer. Again—no switches!

A Collection of subassemblies

It’s important for any bed to come apart so it can be moved easily. The Cozy Bed follows this rule, and consists of the following subassemblies: Headboard, Footboard, 2 Rails, 2 Dividers, 2 Platforms, 4 Drawers.

Lumber selection

Cherry is the principal wood used for major parts. The slats are sycamore. Other clear hardwood combinations will work equally well. The inner parts are hardwood plywood.

Major construction steps

  • Build the headboard.
  • Make the rail assemblies.
  • Build the footboard.
  • Assemble headboard, rails & footboard, then build & install dividers.
  • Build & install drawer boxes, then install drawer false fronts.
  • Install wiring for built-in lights.

*Dimensions are for a 60 × 80" queen mattress; downsize or upsize for twin or king.

Round over all exposed edges with 5⁄16" round-over bit.

Make templates for curved parts 

Baltic birch or AppleplyTM, 1⁄4" and 1⁄2" thick, make great stock for the three templates, as there are little to no voids for tooling to catch or dive into. Cut out the templates on the bandsaw, and then refine their shapes with a curved block of wood and some 150-grit sandpaper.

Rout the curved rabbet with a pattern bit. Mill the footboard to size, then clamp the footboard template in place, centering its curve with the center of the stock. Mount a 1⁄2"-long pattern bit in the router and use an oversize baseplate for stability (see inset). Then rout the rabbet in two successively deeper passes.

Shape the curves

Sides & center support: Trace the appropriate template onto prepared stock, bandsaw to rough shape, then use a spokeshave to perfect the curves.

Side supports: Use the completed center support to trace the forward curve onto each side support workpiece. Cut and fair this curve, then set a small combination square to 11⁄4", and mark a parallel line to cut out these two curved cleats. Fasten each support to the inside face of a side. When installing slats, screw through each support and into the back of each slat.

Footboard: Create the curving shadow-line rabbet by following the edge of the template with a stubby, bearing guided pattern bit (see photo, right).

Posts need mortises for footboard & bed rail tenons

The headboard and footboard assemblies each require a pair of posts. Headboard posts are installed with biscuits and glue. Footboard posts (shown here) have mortise-and-tenon joints. Follow the dimensions in the drawing to lay out and cut the post mortises.

Construction notes:

  • Join rail to post using socket wrench (no glue).
  • Glue only upper footboard tenon into post mortise.

Make twin mortises. Mill the two 1"-deep mortises in the posts with a hollow chisel mortiser, referencing the same side of the stock for each mortise. Then adjust the cutting depth and mill the 1⁄4"-deep mortise on the adjacent side. Align the tip of the chisel bit with a 2" mark; later, you can use this divot to align your drill bit when installing the threaded insert.

Mill the cheeks on the tablesaw. Attach a stout board to the miter gauge, and utilize your saw’s sidefeed table to support the work, cutting the cheeks with a dado blade. Reference the mortises in the post to lay out and cut the shoulders, removing about 1⁄8" in the lower tenon for wood movement. Remove the waste on the bandsaw, and clean up the shoulders with a chisel.

Install the insert with hand-power. Hacksaw the head off a 1⁄4 -20 × 2" bolt, install two nuts, and chuck the assembly into the drill press. Mount the insert against the jammed nuts, and then turn the chuck by hand while lowering the assembly. When the lower nut bottoms out, back off the nuts, and spin the bolt out by reversing the chuck, again by hand.

Slot the side and the back. Lay out a line 5" from the back edge of each side, and clamp the back to the line. Slot the side by registering the joiner’s base against the back and, without changing the setup, slot the back by registering the base against the side’s face.

Use biscuits to join head divider and back to sides

Plate joinery ties the sides to the head divider and back, using #20 biscuits for strength. Attach the hardwood edging to the back, and then lay out and cut the biscuit slots. Cut the slots for the back, as shown in the photos, and then cut the slots for the head divider using the biscuit joiner’s fence set at 90°. Make sure to offset the head divider and back 1⁄2" from the sides, as shown, which allows the lighting wires to run underneath. As a bonus, once the headboard is complete, you’ll have a substantial “secret” compartment below the bed platform for long-term storage of valuables or keepsakes.

Complete the headboard assembly

The headboard defines the curves of the bed and brings you closer to your dream abode. Before connecting the parts, drill the holes for the dimmer switch in the sides, and then lay out and drill the screw holes in the center support and side supports for the slats for 2" screws (for the side supports) and for 21⁄2" and 3" screws (for the center support). Starting at the top, measure down 11⁄2" for the first screw hole, and then proceed to mark and drill holes every 3". You’ll need to counterbore a few holes in the center support where the stock is widest to accommodate 3" screws. Glue up the headboard, and then add the slats from behind, starting at the top. Once the slats are installed, there should be about 1⁄2" of space between the bottom slat and the back for wood movement. Dimension the shelf, and then drill the holes for the lights and rout the channel for the wires. Then secure the top to the sides and center support with 21⁄2" screws in counterbored holes. Plug the holes for a neat appearance.

Glue the side support to the side. Lay out a pencil line on the side for the side support, using the center support to draw the curve. Spread glue, position the front edge of the support on the line and with its upper end even with the top of the side, and clamp.

Assemble the headboard box. Glue and assemble the head divider, back, and sides into one unit. Masking tape prevents gouging the side from the clamp bars. Check for square before leaving the assembly to dry.

Secure the blocks to the feet and dividers. Install the long and short dividers, glue and brad-nail the small blocks to the feet, and then glue and nail the medium blocks to the long divider. Finish up by gluing and nailing the medium blocks and the big blocks to the head divider and footboard, respectively.

Make and install the drawer dividers

The mattress lays atop the two platforms, which sit on the drawer dividers and the ledgers glued to the footboard and back. Assemble the bed frame at this point in order to make and install the dividers. Dimension the long and short dividers, and then saw out the slots in the long and short dividers, and the notches in the short divider, with a jigsaw. Aim for a sliding fit between the dividers to make assembly and disassembly easier. Install the dividers and glue and nail the small blocks to the feet, and the medium blocks to the long divider. The medium blocks are 1⁄2" shorter than the divider width, allowing wire access.

Build the drawers

Build the drawers using 1⁄2" plywood for the boxes and bottoms for strength. Don’t skimp: These are big drawers! Rabbet the sides and mill the grooves in the sides and fronts on the tablesaw, and assemble the drawer boxes with glue and staples, shooting through the front and back and into the sides, which provides plenty of grab while concealing the hardware. Be sure to glue the bottoms in their grooves, too, for added strength. Add the anti-tip blocks at the back of each drawer and the spacers at the front, so the drawers will fit flush with the bed frame once installed. Then screw the two disconnect levers under each drawer and against the spacers. The levers make installation a breeze, allowing you to simply place the drawer on top of the slides and push it in until you hear a click. To dismount, squeeze the levers and pull the box up and out.

Make drawer box parts from 1⁄2" Baltic birch plywood or Appleply.

Staple through the front. Assemble the drawer box and bottom with glue and clamps, and then shoot through the front and into the sides with 11⁄4" staples. Check for square before setting the box aside to dry.

Attach the connector to the drawer. Attach the drawer slide’s connect/disconnect lever to the bottom of the drawer by screwing at a 10° angle into the back of the drawer-box front.

Screw the slide to the divider. Position 1⁄2" shims under the slide, with its front edge 19⁄16" back from the show face of the post and foot, and screw the slide to the short divider.

Install the drawers

The drawers open on full-extension, undermount slides, providing easy access to all your bedroom goods. Give ’em a push, and they close by themselves. To create clearance for rugs and other obstructions, raise the slides (and thus the drawers) by putting 1⁄2"-thick spacers below them when screwing them to the dividers and footboard. Once the slides are in place, mount the drawer boxes, and add the false fronts. Prop each false front off the floor with the same 1⁄2" shims, using business cards for a consistent gap at each end. Attach the fronts by screwing into them from inside the drawer boxes.

Attach the false front. Align the drawer front to the drawer box and bed frame by placing 1⁄2" shims under the front and by inserting an equal number of business cards at either end against the posts. Screw through the inside of the drawer box and into the front with 1" screws.

Plug ’n play. The lighting system features pluggable connections, making assembly—and disassembly—a snap.

Light it up!

The wiring layout is configured such that you can plug in and unplug the drawer sensor switch wires and the switch block wires in order to assemble or disassemble the bed. Mount the four drawer sensor switches, light pucks and switch blocks to the drawer dividers. Mount the two shelf-light switch blocks, distribution block and driver at the back of the bed. Plug in the appropriate wires, then run the wires under the dividers and headboard to the back of the bed and into the distribution block. Complete the connection by plugging the distribution block into the driver. Caution: Make sure all connections are made before plugging the driver into a household outlet. Tidy up the wiring by installing self-stick wire channels where necessary.

Prominent bed lighting. Touch-sensitive dimmer switches in the headboard adjust the LED lights from a soft glow to full-on reading power. Motion-sensitive LEDs behind each drawer activate upon its opening, and shut off when you close the drawer.


Write Comment

Write Comment

You must be logged in to write a comment. Log In

Top of Page