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Designing and making an Emperor size Sleigh Bed

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robertlaurenson

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Morning All,
Looking for some ideas and advice on a project i'm planning, to let you understand the background, i was left a small amount of money by my grandparents, been holding on to it for over a year wondering what to do with it, between my wife and I we have agreed on an Emperor size bed, we were looking at the beds sold by a company called Revival Beds, they look amazing, but instead of buying one, i am now looking at building it myself, something along the lines of this
Quality Leather Sleigh Beds - The Tuscany Sleigh Bed | Revival Beds (hope it's ok to post that for reference purposes?)

Looking at the moment for a basic plan of sorts, that tells me what thickness to make the parts, the corners of the headboard and footboard which hold the side rails etc, Also considering several different types of wood as follows,
1, Ash - stained darker to bring the lines out
2, Iroko
3, Cherry
4, Maple
5, Oak
6, Sapele

The lighter woods in the list i would most likley stain darker, and the darker woods would be oiled, or clear finished in some way.

Anyone have any reasons to avoid any of the woods for this purpose, or the best ones to use?

Looking forward to your comments, really looking forward to this project also.
 

Argus

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That looks to be an interesting project from a number of perspectives.

First, on the wood-front, there's the consideration of availability in your part of the world. Secondly, cost: wood prices have gone through the roof lately.

From the list of timbers, and on a personal note, I would take away Iroko and Sapele and concentrate on temperate timbers. Both these have a tendency to be irritant when you are involved with the dust at an intimate level and can also have silicate inclusions that your cutting tools definitely won't like.

Aesthetics aside......all of the others would be suitable from a structural point of view, I think, though I strongly urge you to select carefully and allow everything to acclimatise to your local humidity at each stage of the preparation.
As you said, Oak, Cherry and Maple will all probably darken naturally with time and exposure to light..... which means that some parts that are covered with cloth and bedding may turn out a lighter contrast with the outer parts in time...... but to me that's not a problem, all natural wood furniture does it.

Good luck and on-going photos would keep us all happy!
 
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robertlaurenson

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Get huge mattress and slats first, or at least make very sure you know their dimensions
There is a lot of wood in those beds, are you thinking you will do it cheaper? You might not.
The bed to buy is 4-5k including drawers in oak, Until i draw it and price it i cant be certain, but i'm fairly sure i will be able to do it cheaper than that. It's not only that though, it's just having something like that, that was paid for by the money i mentioned, at least in part, and also if i build it myself, it will eventually turn into a family heirloom (hopefully not too soon in my case :) )
 

robertlaurenson

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That looks to be an interesting project from a number of perspectives.

First, on the wood-front, there's the consideration of availability in your part of the world. Secondly, cost: wood prices have gone through the roof lately.

From the list of timbers, and on a personal note, I would take away Iroko and Sapele and concentrate on temperate timbers. Both these have a tendency to be irritant when you are involved with the dust at an intimate level and can also have silicate inclusions that your cutting tools definitely won't like.

Aesthetics aside......all of the others would be suitable from a structural point of view, I think, though I strongly urge you to select carefully and allow everything to acclimatise to your local humidity at each stage of the preparation.
As you said, Oak, Cherry and Maple will all probably darken naturally with time and exposure to light..... which means that some parts that are covered with cloth and bedding may turn out a lighter contrast with the outer parts in time...... but to me that's not a problem, all natural wood furniture does it.

Good luck and on-going photos would keep us all happy!
thanks for all that, much appreciated.

As far as timber goes, are there any that would be less prone to warping, our house is a modern one, underfloor heating, dry as a bone, the last thing i would want would be to go to all the effort of making this and then it warp.
 

Jones

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With the sections used on a bed any timber apart from balsa should be strong enough. With ash dieback there's a lot on the market now so it's probably the cheapest option or just go to a yard and see what they have, chesnut and wild cherry are both good options if available and are cheaper than oak etc.
 

recipio

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I would decide on a good hardwood that suits the theme of the rest of your furniture. Making heirloom furniture with a cheap softwood never works - it just depreciates after a few years. Also ,Its nice to get away from that bleached 'far eastern' look that everybody buys nowadays. Absolutely get the mattress before starting and avoid any shin bashing wide boards on the sides.
I've made a few beds and the best K/D fittings are metal dowels with a drawbolt. There is a classic 'Sleigh Bed ' design in the literature - see if you can get a set of plans before starting. ?
 

robertlaurenson

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I would decide on a good hardwood that suits the theme of the rest of your furniture. Making heirloom furniture with a cheap softwood never works - it just depreciates after a few years. Also ,Its nice to get away from that bleached 'far eastern' look that everybody buys nowadays. Absolutely get the mattress before starting and avoid any shin bashing wide boards on the sides.
I've made a few beds and the best K/D fittings are metal dowels with a drawbolt. There is a classic 'Sleigh Bed ' design in the literature - see if you can get a set of plans before starting. ?
I must say due to price and the colour and lines in it I'm leaning towards Ash.
 

robertlaurenson

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I would decide on a good hardwood that suits the theme of the rest of your furniture. Making heirloom furniture with a cheap softwood never works - it just depreciates after a few years. Also ,Its nice to get away from that bleached 'far eastern' look that everybody buys nowadays. Absolutely get the mattress before starting and avoid any shin bashing wide boards on the sides.
I've made a few beds and the best K/D fittings are metal dowels with a drawbolt. There is a classic 'Sleigh Bed ' design in the literature - see if you can get a set of plans before starting. ?
As far as the matress goes it's going to be 7ft square, I'm pretty good with Rhino so going to model it there first to get a cutting list, couple of questions.
What are K/D fittings?
And what literature are you referring to, where could I get a design like that?
 

Argus

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What are K/D fittings?
K/D = "knock-Down" - fittings in a design that comes apart so that the bed can be moved in sections.

They come in two sorts:
Cheap and 'orrible, and the more expensive type that should last a bit longer...... they mostly fail in time, but it's the degree and duration of horizontal jogging that eventually seals thier fate.
 

recipio

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I must say due to price and the colour and lines in it I'm leaning towards Ash.
Ash is absolutely fine and easy to work. It has a pronounced grain after finishing but is less expensive than maple.
You need K/D fittings as the bed may be moved at some point in the future. I make my own brass dowels out of 25 mm round stock - its easy to drill and tap an M8 hole for the bolts. Avoid 'clip on ' and Ikea type fixings - they will creak and groan and rock to and fro. The dowel joints are rock solid and I have never had a failure with them.
I can suggest ' Beds and Bedroom furniture ' -the best of Fine Woodworking which I see is available on Amazon. It has a design for a sleigh bed but is a bit elaborate. Beds are not difficult to make - as long as you get the correct K/D fittings .
 

robertlaurenson

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Ash is absolutely fine and easy to work. It has a pronounced grain after finishing but is less expensive than maple.
You need K/D fittings as the bed may be moved at some point in the future. I make my own brass dowels out of 25 mm round stock - its easy to drill and tap an M8 hole for the bolts. Avoid 'clip on ' and Ikea type fixings - they will creak and groan and rock to and fro. The dowel joints are rock solid and I have never had a failure with them.
I can suggest ' Beds and Bedroom furniture ' -the best of Fine Woodworking which I see is available on Amazon. It has a design for a sleigh bed but is a bit elaborate. Beds are not difficult to make - as long as you get the correct K/D fittings .
Thanks again, good information,

I have had a look at the sleigh bed in that book, it's not really the style i want, I am more looking for something similar to the one i copied the link to in my original post, a more grand looking thing, my wife has a sewing business and she is planning to make the leather panels for it to soften it a bit, so it's going to be a bit of a joint effort.

The only bits i am struggling with are the thicknesses of the corner pieces and side rails, as they will be taking the bulk of the weight, what i was thinking was 30mm rails, and 40mm corners (the bits where the sides and ends fix to in place of corner posts) hope that makes sense.

Thanks
Robert
 

TheTiddles

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Many beds don’t put all the load on four corners and have a frame inside the wooden frame that carries the slats and has additional supports to the floor, which seems sensible to me. The thickness of the timbers is less critical than the depth
 

Droogs

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the slats on mine are 2"x1" the centre rail us 3"x11/2" set on edge into mortices in the head and foot rests with 2 small 1 1/2" small leg posts a 1/3 of the way in. The sides of the bed are 4" deep and 2" thick. The head and footer have varying thickness as it is ornately carved. Will put up a couple of picks later (laying new floors in the study at the moment.
 

Cabinetman

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Fixing the side rail to post is always the problem, this is the way I always make beds and I have never had any come back and my own two are still fine after many years. There is a stub tenon about 14 inches long mortised and glued into the leg and then screws go through that into the side rail of the bed, big chunky number 14's. These legs are 2 1/4” square with mahogany inlay.
The last sleigh bed I made the client wanted the legs chunky chunky and I used 5” square oak which was a bit of a problem as the only 5 inch I could get was air dried— wet! Photo to follow. Ian
BBE2D96F-DE0A-4C6F-B511-208B2B03B3DB.jpeg
 

Cabinetman

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Sleigh bed, the curved headboard is really comfortable (Says client), I built a thin ply jig that could be altered both for curvature and angle for the client to test out during the Design stage.
The oak slats are loose tongue and grooved together and mortised into the sides of the legs, getting the top rails on the foot and the head of the bed to flow into the same curve on the ends of the legs was interesting as it was all very chunky heavy stuff, and of course they were made from air dried oak as well which then shrank as I knew they would, had to go back after 18 months to plane down the tops of the legs so that they were flush again. Ian

6ED0C08B-31FC-49C2-835D-2DD77F58FF6A.jpeg
3FAA71D3-CA32-44B5-A67F-5AE192A66AB6.jpeg
 

Jameshow

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Fixing the side rail to post is always the problem, this is the way I always make beds and I have never had any come back and my own two are still fine after many years. There is a stub tenon about 14 inches long mortised and glued into the leg and then screws go through that into the side rail of the bed, big chunky number 14's. These legs are 2 1/4” square with mahogany inlay.
The last sleigh bed I made the client wanted the legs chunky chunky and I used 5” square oak which was a bit of a problem as the only 5 inch I could get was air dried— wet! Photo to follow. Ian
View attachment 125755
Nice beds!

What's the rational of using a sub tenon rather than a tension on the rail itself?

Cheers James
 

Cabinetman

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Typo for tenon? Well if it was a tenon it would be glued the same as the foot and head rails, and then you could never take the bed apart to move it, particularly at 7 ft square. Ian
Edit, fairly obviously if you didn’t glue the tenon it would be – well let’s say squeaky lol.
 

clive griffiths

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At one time I used to help out with a friend of mine when things were busy with him, as well as the usual kitchens etc he used to build about a dozen sleigh beds every week with all the timbers mentioned except Sapele and Iroko,
We also used Idigbo easy to machine and stain I dont know the prices these days but should not break the bank.

Clive.
 
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