Japanese-influenced bed for my son

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Project by JasonD posted 12-24-2011 11:10 PM 4814 views 4 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

My son needed a new bed and asked me to build one for him.

I’d never built anything that big before. Everything in my shop is sized for medium-to-small projects; my bench is only 62” long. The side rails of his bed (including the length of the tenons) is over 80”. That made for a few challenges, but it was a fun project, none the less.

I built this without plans. My son searched the web for a style that he liked and he decided on a Japanese low-stance bed frame. I printed one of the pictures he chose, made a few sketched, measured his mattress, and got to work.

I wanted it to join with all-wood joint; no screws, nails, or bolts were used. For the record, I have nothing against mechanical fasteners, but I wanted the challenge of tackling the design he chose with just wood to wood knock-down joinery.

I had a big delay midway through the project dealing with bilateral hernias (from exercise, not related to building this).

It was built 99% with hand tools. I used my bandsaw for two long rips (rough cutting the side rails).

The wood is yellow pine (longleaf). I ripped it from the outsides of 2×12s to get the desired grain orientation. The joinery is bridle joints that overlap between the footboard / headboard and side rails. There is a mating notch at each intersection of the tenons. The finish is two coats of a milk paint wash (thinned 2-to-1) with a few coats of shellac on top (2lb cut of dewaxed orange).

There were a lot of first in this project for me. It was the first time I’ve ever used bridle joints, milk paint, and shellac in a project. The milk paint was mixed fresh from Old Fashioned Milk Paint powder and the shellac was mixed fresh from flakes bought from

The pictures are:

#1 – the bed installed in his room

#2 – jointing an edge on one of the side rails

#3 – cutting one of the side rail tenons

#4 – a quick dry fit outside of my shop (there wasn’t enough room in my shop to put it together. lol)

#5 – close up of the joinery

#6 – close up of the finish; showing the overlapped bridle joints

Sorry that some of the pics are blurry. They were taken with my phone.

1 comment so far

View a1Jim's profile


118334 posts in 5072 days

#1 posted 12-25-2011 12:39 AM

Nice work Jason. Merry Christmas and a happy new year.


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