Farmhouse Storage Bed

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Project by Wolfdrool posted 06-19-2013 04:24 PM 7194 views 22 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s a farmhouse storage bed that I just finished building for my youngest son, who wanted more storage in his room. I used plans from Ana White, but modified them a little to use frame and panel construction in the head and footboards. It’s more craftsman style than farmhouse as a result. All red oak wood and 7-ply red oak plywood, and pre-finished baltic birch plywood.

Yes, my son’s room really is painted that green. No need to fix your monitor.

I started just after May 15 and finished yesterday. Finishing took 70% of the time. This means the build was straightforward. A fun project and good plans created by Ana White. Recommended.

The plans call for drawers or doors in the cubbies, but my son wanted those wide open. This was less work for dad, so I was happy to oblige. I also used pinned mortise and tenons or box joints all over for strength.

The cross cleats across the center help to support the mattress. The cleats are located and held in place by pins on the support rails. This is a centuries old technique to make the cross cleats easy to remove and replace securely, but I just learned about it at the beginning of this project reading Step by Step Beds by Jeff Miller. It works great and looks cool in person, hence hinting at why it’s a centuries old technique. Miller’s book has a lot of good content that guided this build quite a bit. If you’re thinking of building a bed, this book is a good resource.

The plans did not call for this, but each cabinet is supported on two box feet in the middle. The cabinets are self supporting and don’t rely only on the head and foot boards for support. Very solid and stable. The feet also help with assembly to support the cabinets while they are attached to the head and footboards.

As noted above, sanding and finishing took up 70% of the build time! Too bad totally bare wood is not in style. I used a General Finishes gel stain for the color and then three coats of General Finishes Enduro Var semi gloss for clear coat protection. Both finishing products are excellent. The gel stain made it pretty easy to get an evenly stained surface and dries very smooth. The results on end grain were very good. The end grain was virtually the same hue as the other surfaces without any pre-prep of the end grain, and the wood grain on the ends is just as viewable as elsewhere. The Enduro Var varnish self levels really well and develops an amber hue as it cures even though it is water-based. The Enduro Var sprayed easily without any reducer via an HVLP touch up gun. The gel stain has resins in it and starts the film build at the staining stage. Hence, after the first coat of water-based varnish was applied over that, the grain was raised only the tiniest bit on the first varnish coat and not at all after the second and third coats. Another thing that I liked about the Enduro Var was getting the amber effect of an oil-based varnish, but since it is water-based I could clean my gun afterwards with warm water, not thinner or other solvent. Easy.

I sanded between coats with 400 grit 3M sandblaster sanding sheets on a sanding block. This was the first time I used this product. The expense might be off-ptting but this is a great product. This took off the nits easily. But interestingly after cleaning up with a tack cloth before the next coat, the finish looked really good after the second coat of varnish. After the third coat and then sanding and tacking, the finish looked nearly completely rubbed out. This doesn’t usually occur with 400 grit sheets, and normally you wouldn’t rub out until many days have passed. I couldn’t see any scratches at any viewing angle. I buffed the finish without further rubbing out, and it looks quite good close up.

If I were to build this again, I would veneer the panels in the headboard frames with a complementary grain (not red oak) and make sure the grain in those panels runs vertically. I also would use doors or drawers with the cubbies, or maybe a storage bin that can be easily pulled out and put back.

The plywood used to make the cabinets is a 3/4 ply that has pre-finished birch faces. This saved a ton of sanding and finishing time, but the factory finish is too easy to scratch. It’s also not easily fixed as nothing sticks to it well. Next time, I might be tempted to use these again, but perhaps I instead might sand and pre-finish cabinet grade ply with a more durable, easier to fix finish like the gel stain-enduro var program described above.

13 comments so far

View steliart's profile


2895 posts in 3749 days

#1 posted 06-19-2013 06:28 PM

very nice project

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View pintodeluxe's profile


6347 posts in 3874 days

#2 posted 06-19-2013 07:08 PM

Great project. I am getting ready to start a bed project, so maybe you could answer a few questions for me. Did you laminate the post legs, or use solid stock? Are the legs about 3” x 3”?
Also, can you tell be more about the box feet supporting the bed?
Finally, did you say you used bed bolts, or something else to attach the head / footboards to the base?

Thanks so much for posting this great project!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Wolfdrool's profile


60 posts in 4458 days

#3 posted 06-19-2013 07:32 PM

Pintodeluxe: Thanks for your interest. I bought the legs laminated from a local Menards in 6 foot lengths. At the time I bought them, I thought they were solid, but they are laminated of 3 or 4 layers. Three I think. There are finger joints joining some of the boards in a particular layer. I don’t like the finger joints and might not have bought the boards had I seen that in the store. But the legs are pretty solid and have presented no issues. My wife wants a bed similar to this one, and I would buy these legs again. Already laminated. Already well prepared on 4 sides. The legs are 3 1/2×3 1/2. Very heavy!

The box feet are 4 inches wide by about 15 inches long. These are made from 1×4 stock, which I also used as a spacer to set the bottom rails on the headboard and footboard. I fingerjointed the boards to build what is essentially a drawer box without a bottom. I used box joints because I had the jig set up at the time and because moving the heavy bed a few inches this way or that from time to time could stress the corners. Box joints should be plenty strong for that. I used boxes because these are very strong and stable. You can only see the boxes from a worm’s eye view.

I’m not quite sure how to add pictures to this comment, so I’ll create a new project showing pictures of the build.

I did not use bed bolts. I used 2 1/2 inch exterior Kreg screws with a fender washer to attach the boxes to the legs in each corner. I used three in each corner, one high, one in the middle, one low. I did the same with 1 1/4 Kreg screws to attach the boxes to the rails. I added two of these on the top rail and two on the bottom rail at each corner. Particularly with using box feet to mainly support the boxes, my tests showed this attachment was plenty strong. I also found I could separate and rejoin parts several times without losing grip. So, I should get at least a few moves with this bed before I have to think of filling those holes and starting fresh. That will be an epoxy job if it ever needs to be done. I would not use this Kreg screw approach without the box feet. Without the box feet, the box to headboard or footboard joint is doing all the work of holding up the boxes. The box feet help with assembly. Do the main job of supporting the boxes. And the help support the boxes during assembly. They are worth doing.

This project was totally fun. I would suggest pre-sanding and even pre-finishing some parts before assembly. I didn’t have the patience to do that and it made finishing harder at the end.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6347 posts in 3874 days

#4 posted 06-19-2013 08:36 PM

I think you are exactly right, storage beds that sit on the floor don’t need quite as much support as suspended beds. It sounds like your technique worked well.
Thanks for the tips, that will give me something to think about as I design my bed.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View cdbridge39's profile


167 posts in 3985 days

#5 posted 06-19-2013 08:48 PM

Nice job, awesome build!

-- If it ain't broke don't fix it, if you fix it make it better than it has to be.

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 3208 days

#6 posted 06-20-2013 12:40 AM

This is very much like the bed I am going to be making.

View emart's profile


445 posts in 3689 days

#7 posted 06-20-2013 12:56 AM

very nice work. How are the components assembled? I have a customer in my neck of the woods asking for a similar project and I have been wracking my brain for a while to figure out a good way to take it apart when it needs to be moved

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View Wolfdrool's profile


60 posts in 4458 days

#8 posted 06-20-2013 01:37 AM

Emart: Here is how to take it apart after the mattress is removed. Lift of the cross slats in the center. They just lift off. To prepare for the next step, clamp the headboard and footboard to the cabinets at all four corners. My pictures above show these clamps in place. Inside the cabinets are pocket screws and fender washers to hold things together. First, at each corner remove the four 1 1/4 screws attaching the cabinet to the head and foot rails. Then remove the three 2 1/2 inch pocket screws holding the cabinets to each leg. Note that the fender washers under the screw heads provide good clamping force. Note that the cabinets are supported on box feet, so the connections at the head and foot are not taking all the loads. Now remove the clamps and the headboard and footboard can be removed. Each cabinet remains as a subassembly. Because of the box feet, the cabinets are self supporting after you take the head and foot boards away. To reassemble: Carefully line up the headboard with the cabinets so that a pair of the 2 1/2 screws go into the holes already made in the legs. Slowly bring the two components together as you drive the screws in. Remember to use the fender washers under the screw heads. Pick a moderate clutch setting on your drill so you don’t overdrive the screws. When all these initial long screws are in, the other screws are easily driven in, as everything is now lined up. I posted another project later in the day to show the components better, including the box feet. The box feet are important for this approach to work.

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4638 days

#9 posted 06-20-2013 01:46 AM

View Wolfdrool's profile


60 posts in 4458 days

#10 posted 06-20-2013 01:46 AM

Emart: Another way to make the connection is to use a pair of bed bolts at each corner connecting the cabinet ends to each leg. I don’t think one at each leg will do it. The heads are countersunk in the outside of the leg. Then use fancy bed bolt covers over the heads. It’s conventional to use one bolt cover, and that looks okay. I’ve never used a pair, so I’m not sure how that will look. Probably okay if the covers are selected appropriately. Miller’s book on Beds has a good discussion of this. If the bed were to be moved with some frequency, I might favor this approach over the pocket screw and fender washer approach I used.

A slightly different approach would be to use a single bed bolt for clamping force, but then to use large floating tenons like the large sized festool dominoes to further secure the joint, particularly from torque forces. The total mortise depth for each domino could be the length of the large domino or even up to 5 mm less if you want some of the domino to stick out for removal at disassembly time. I would think that a bed bolt plus two large complementary dominoes would do it so long as you are using box feet under the cabinets to take a lot of the support loads.

View emart's profile


445 posts in 3689 days

#11 posted 06-20-2013 02:27 AM

Thanks for the info

-- tools are only as good as the hands that hold them

View NormG's profile


6508 posts in 4065 days

#12 posted 06-20-2013 03:05 AM

Great bed, Ana White does have some useful designs that are easily modified

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View joseph000's profile


346 posts in 3088 days

#13 posted 06-20-2013 11:15 AM

Really your bed is great.Well done! One of the easiest storage solutions for a small bedroom is a storage bed.People who love neat bedroom prefer to buy storage beds with drawers due to its ability to store stuff and save space.

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