Woodworking Projects: DIY Bed Frame From Timbers

You don’t need to be an expert woodworker to fashion yourself a homemade DIY bed frame out of the timber on your acres.

| March/April 2016

King Blackledge is a man of many talents. Hailing from the heart of Michigan’s backwoods, King is a retired bricklayer who spends his days doing. If he isn’t growing food, carving wooden morel mushrooms, trapping snapping turtles, or making homemade wine from his backyard fruit orchard, he’s likely inside his woodshop making masterpieces out of the most abundant natural resource he has available to him. During the winter months, he tinkers the days away inside the shop, magnificently marrying form and function with striking beauty and heavy-duty, life-long lasting quality.

For the first time ever, King has made his one-of-a-kind bed design available to readers of Grit. But he’s not offering to build one for you. If you want one of these king-sized beds designed by King, you’re going to have to go out to the cedar swamp to get it. But, the work of art you achieve might just be worth all the trouble.

Selecting your supplies

The materials used to build this bed should be sourced from a cedar swamp or swale nearby. Look for logs with character while choosing your head posts. If you’ve always wanted some hooks on your headboard to hang a robe or what have you, choose a head post with a few extra branches. The same holds true for your headboard arches and spokes. As long as you can make it all fit together, there are no limitations to the character you can impart into your new bed. Pick spokes and arches with knots and wayward limbs. You can even choose trees that are dead or dying for beautiful dark tones and added charm. Choose balsam firs that are as straight as a gun barrel, or perhaps Osage orange lumber that’s abundant and a signature of your region and farm.


• 2 cedar head posts – 72 inches tall
• 2 cedar foot posts – 40 inches tall
• 5 cedar headboard spokes – 46-50 inches tall
• 4 cedar footboard spokes – 30-36 inches tall
• 1 cedar headboard arch – 80 inches long
• 1 cedar footboard arch – 80 inches long
• 1 cedar headboard bottom brace – 80 inches long
• 1 cedar footboard bottom brace – 80 inches long
• 4 balsam fir side rails – 84 inches long, 4-5 inches in diameter
• 4 balsam fir bed rails to carry mattress – 80 inches long, 4-5 inches in diameter
• 6 cedar side rail truss supports – 10-12 inches long, 5 inches in diameter
• 2-1⁄2-inch wood screws – 1 50-count box


• Drill and drill bits for wood screws
• 1-1⁄2-inch tenon cutter
• 1-1⁄2-inch forstner bit
• 6-by-48-inch table belt sander
• 3-by-21-inch handheld belt sander
• Draw knife
• Table saw
• Side grinder with wire wheel attachment
• Tape measure
• Chainsaw
• Rubber mallet

Preparing your logs

Each log that you choose needs stripped and sanded smooth. A good old draw knife works well for stripping both cedars and balsam firs – the types of lumber I used, but which is completely up to you. Freshly cut cedars can usually be peeled with nothing but a couple of strong hands. But the trees that have been dead or down for some time won’t part with their bark so easily. This is where the draw knife and grinder with wire wheel will come in handy. Use the wire wheel to get down into the tight nooks and crannies of the spokes and branches on your head and foot posts.

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