About to scrap a beautiful project - advice welcome

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Forum topic by JohnMcClure posted 07-29-2018 04:27 PM 1305 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JohnMcClure's profile


843 posts in 1244 days

07-29-2018 04:27 PM

I just built this beautiful bed, and now I may have to scrap it:

(Ball finials and a bit more paint are all that’s left)

I’ve explained everything in this blog post:
Sorry to double-post, but I’d like all the opinions I can get on this so I’m also putting it here in the forum.
Thanks for any constructive advice you can offer!

The frame around the mattress is two inches too long, and just over an inch too wide. Now that’s the first problem; the second problem is, the whole bed – due to both the oversize mistake, AND the design choice to have thick posts that stick out proud of the rails – it’s just too big for the room. There’s a window on one wall, and if the bed is anywhere nearby it partially blocks the window; there’s a dresser opposite the window, and… well… you’d just have to be there. It’s a tiny room.

If I hadn’t made it oversized, the design would still be pretty big for the room – but we would just deal with it.
Since it’s oversized anyway, rebuilding it would also give me the opportunity to change the design and lose the thick posts. So I lose a couple inches by right-sizing, and a couple more inches by re-designing, and the net result is an equally beautiful bed that also fits the room – maybe.
Or, maybe a daybed is going to overpower the room no matter what – so I should instead switch to a standard bed design with a headboard and small footboard.

As I see it, I have three choices:
A) Keep what I’ve made, and use foam to fill in the gaps around the mattress. Too big, but we can deal with it grudgingly.
B) Redesign a new daybed that fits tight and has slender posts.
C) Design a standard bed with headboard and footboard.

For B and C, I’m also concerned about the joinery. I have oak I can use for the posts, but I’m concerned about using very short tenons on a rail with a long lever arm.

Feel free to weigh in with suggestions on this. We’re really frustrated – and it’s painful to let such a beautiful piece of furniture go for what feels like nitpicking. And we expect our daughter within 4 weeks, so time is of the essence!

Some notes on the joinery: All the panel rails are 3.5”x1.5” SYP with tenons that are 1.75” long, 1/2” thick and 3” wide. The front rail is 3/4” thick red oak, with full-thickness tenon. The end panels are glued into the posts. The long rails are secured into the posts with dowels for knockdown. That’s why I could try to salvage the main headboard but would lose everything else.

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

8 replies so far

View Rayne's profile


1298 posts in 2144 days

#1 posted 07-29-2018 06:12 PM

I briefly read through your blog and you mentioned that this can be disassembled for moving. Can’t you make the necessary cuts and adjustments in the disassembled form?

View GrantA's profile


2116 posts in 2012 days

#2 posted 07-29-2018 06:35 PM

I will browse the blog post later but elaborating on what Rayne said keep in mind since this is painted you can easily remove material from the middle of the rails and join back together with numerous techniques. Dowels would (I feel) be plenty strong, you could also use a loose tenon or if enough needs removed a traditional mortise & tenon. This is only if removing from the end won’t work of course

View Rich's profile


5136 posts in 1193 days

#3 posted 07-29-2018 07:22 PM

I mentioned in your other post that you can have a custom mattress made to fit snugly. You’ll have to decide if the cost is acceptable to you.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View jdmaher's profile


463 posts in 3184 days

#4 posted 07-29-2018 07:44 PM

Careful planning can lead you to make cuts that will net you the 2” in length and 1” in width. I recommend that you be fussy when doing such work, and only do it as an absolute last resort.

The bigger problem is ”it’s just too big for the room”. From the pictures you’ve posted, I don’t see that problem. Looks a little larger scale than the dresser, but toss a few pillows and a couple dozen toys at it (and maybe even a low box spring) and no one will notice the slight scale difference.

You mentioned that if you move it to the window wall, you partially block the window. Such is done all the time, and should probably NOT be considered a decorating faux pas.

Keep it. Get a custom-sized mattress (and maybe box-spring). Celebrate the grand scale!

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View bilyo's profile


959 posts in 1707 days

#5 posted 07-29-2018 08:09 PM

I agree with the above. Either get a custom mattress or just make some foam bolsters. The bed is beautiful and you did some beautiful work. Accept it and go with it. You have enough to be concerned about with the new baby coming soon. Concentrate on some other needs and the significance of this in your mind will diminish. Also remember, in a very few short years, you will be designing and building a youth bed to replace (or supplement) it.

View builtinbkyn's profile


2999 posts in 1545 days

#6 posted 07-29-2018 08:38 PM

Make padded bolsters that fit around the mattress on three sides to take up the space. You can pad them with foam and then cover them with white naugahyde or some other material. If it’s too tall for the intended location, well that’s a different issue. Guess you can cut the legs shorter or just pull it away a little from the window.

It’s a nice looking bed. It would be a shame to scrap it. Maybe sell it?

-- Bill, Yo! Brooklyn & Steel City :)

View ppg677's profile


219 posts in 1460 days

#7 posted 07-30-2018 03:04 AM

Too beautiful to scrap.

I too made a similar mistake with a twin bed I made for my daughter. I erred on the size of too big for the mattress.

I would have lived with it, but I realized my design was also flawed in terms of allowing wood to move.

So I put the finished headboard and footboard on the table saw and sliced them up. I trimmed off a couple inches to make a better fit for the mattress. And I rejoined with a different joinery technique to allow for movement.

All and all I salvaged my project with the cost of about a half day of work.

In your case, either use foam or see if you can retrofit without scrapping.

View JohnMcClure's profile


843 posts in 1244 days

#8 posted 08-01-2018 02:26 AM

Thanks everyone for your very insightful suggestions. After several days of deliberation, SWMBO has OKed keeping the bed, for now, with padded bolsters or an oversize mattress as you have suggested. Since the bed really is too big for the room, we’ve agreed that whenever inspiration strikes again, I will design a new, regular-style bed that will take up less space in the room; but that can be much farther down the road. We have way bigger fish to fry in the meantime!

My mother has offered to make padded bolsters or get an oversize mattress (she knows foam people), so I believe the bed will be sellable whenever I replace it.

-- I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

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