I’m sure the question many of you are asking is “Why are you building your own furniture, and what’s wrong with the DIY plans I see online/Pintrest all the time?”
The answer to why I want to build it myself is easy: I love building things. I love woodworking, and I know that for the same cost (roughly) as a cheap bedframe made from fiberboard and fake veneer, I can have a solid wood bed that I’ll be proud to own for decades to come.
The reason I started blogging the process is a little more complicated. My wife loves the rustic look of a lot of the DIY furniture you see out there today, and I was drawn in through my research by the idea of easy-to-build projects. In fact, this is the bed that inspired my whole journey. The design is beautiful, and a huge upgrade for us since we just have a standard wire foundation for our king size memory foam mattress.
Now, I haven’t built that bed, and I guess as such I can’t really say that it’s a bad way to build furniture. What I can say, though, is there are many facets to that particular plan that definitely lend themselves to a sub-par furniture design in the long run. I didn’t know any of this when I started looking for plans, but I began doing research, asking questions, and looking for a way to do it better.
First and foremost, the use of construction grade lumber is not ideal. While the allure of 2×4, 1×4, etc. is that they are easy to find and come in uniform widths, the reality is they are called construction grade, and not furniture grade, for a reason. This wood is not dried to the same degree we’d expect for furniture. No big deal, right? Well, not at first. What will happen is as the wood dries, it will shrink. Then, in the summer when it’s more humid it will expand. All wood does this, even the best quality lumber. But since construction grade lumber isn’t fully dried, it will warp significantly more and considerably quicker as it acclimates to your home than a high quality lumber from a yard (more to come in future posts about going to the lumber yard!).
This issue will be compounded by the second problem with these plans: pocket-hole screws. Pocket-hole screws are great for a lot of things. They’re used in cabinets, toy boxes, etc. They are awful, in my opinion, for furniture joinery though. When you screw two pieces of wood together, you create a very inflexible joint. As the wood tries to expand and contract naturally through the seasons, the screws won’t let it and can cause disastrous results. I also worry substantially about the strength of a pocket-hole screw for a piece of furniture that will be used frequently. You’re talking about hundreds of pounds of weight between the mattress and the people on it. My experience with pocket-hole screws in our house has been less than stellar. The picture below is a pocket-hole screw on the arm of a rocking chair in my daughter’s room. This is the second arm where the screw simply snapped in half. Not my idea of strength.
Finally, as beautiful as that bed is, god forbid you ever have to move it! You’d have to undo at least 20 pocket-hole screws to get the rails off (which are only 3/4 inch plywood, also something I consider a strength issue).
We are going to solve all these issues by using high quality, lumber yard wood. We are going to use traditional joinery techniques including mortise and tenon joints and dovetails. And, we’re going to use some bed rail equipment that will allow the rails (which will be over an inch thick of solid lumber) to be removed easily.
Will this be a more detailed build? Certainly. Will it be more expensive? Unfortunately, yes. But, I’d rather build something more expensive that’s going to last for decades. I’m really excited to start this project and share it with you all.