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mission bed
making a Mission Bed
Overview At UNIQUEPROJECTS we focus on providing our users with unique project plans. To keep our endeavor afloat, however, we occasionally work on side projects. Those who are interested, can follow along the process of constructing a mission style bed for a client.
Pages Since this section is image intensive, we have broken it up into the following pages:

After completing the slats, I returned to the rails and stretcher. Here is a view of a completed tenon that will be mated in a mortise in one of the bedposts. The purpose of the tenon is to create a large gluing surface between the rail and the post -- this will create an extremely strong joint that will last many lifetimes. tenon in rail
The top two rails of the headboard and footboard have slight arcs cut into them. slight arcs in top rails
Here are the completed tapers on the bed posts along with the mortises that will receive the rails to create the headboard and footboard. tapers and mortises on the posts
Next, I focused my attention to the slats. Since the top rail is curved, I sized the slats to fit completely within their respective mortises. I rounded all the edges of the slats to fit within the rounded mortises; I numbered the slats to get a custom and snug fit on each. 34 slats, now with rounded edges
The bottom of each slat received a tenon that will be inserted into smaller mortises in the bottom rails. I began some sanding, but there will be plenty more to do. I have strayed from the plan so that I will be able to sand all the components before assembly; this will allow me to sand in areas that would be difficult to access after the pieces are assembled. the bottom end of each slat received a tenon
Today I completed all of the details required on the posts. Almost all of the edges received a roundover and I created stop chamfers on the two outside edges of each post. The bed rails (the boards that will span between the headboard and footboard) will be attached with heavy duty bed rail fasteners. This hardware will allow the bed to be disassembled and transported easily but maintain tremendous strength. The image on the right shows one of the special mortises and one of the bed rail fasteners. close up of chamfer on bed posts and bed rail fasteners
Sanding, sanding, sanding. A beneficial feature the construction method that I am using is that all parts can be sanded thoroughly before assembly. I spent most of the day sanding using a random orbital sander and then using 1/4 sheets of sandpaper along with a simple sanding block for those areas that require hand sanding. sanding with the following grits: 100, 120, 150, 180, 240, 320, 400
The short open time of wood glue would normally make the assembly of the footboard and headboard very difficult considering the number of slats to deal with. While I considered dealing with the problem by enlisting several helpers, I devised a unique solution to the problem. First, I drilled through holes from the bottom of the mortises to the edge of the rails. Then I dry-assembled all of the slats between the rails and then glued the rails to the posts. I used heavy duty ratcheting strap clamps to ensure that the rail tenons were fully engaged in their respective post mortises. When that dried, I drilled through the holes that I drilled earlier and penetrated about 1/2" (13mm) into the top of each slat. Finally I tapped in and glued in some dowels to lock each slat in its proper place. As you will see in later steps, additional wood will be mounted above the top rail which will hide the holes used for the dowels. This method made the assembly process worry-free, yet yields very strong assemblies. Through holes drilled through the bottom of the mortises allow me to glue in dowels after assembly to secure the unglued slats into place
A nice thing about beds is that one side of the headboard and footboard will always be hidden. Although all of the wood I used is beautiful, I was able to select a a very homogenous combination of wood to enhance the sides that will be visible. the assembled footboard
This strange message was written on one of the rough boards that I am using for the bed details. strange message on one of the boards
The plan calls for this edge cap under the bottom rail used to hold the slats in place; the construction method I am using does not require it but I am including it for aesthetic reasons. Since this edge cap will be hidden by the mattress on the headboard, I am omitting it there. edge cap under bottom rail of footboard.
The final detail on the head and footboards are a pair of boards that serve as caps. The lower board has a cove routed around the periphery and the slightly larger top board includes a bullnose. They are attached with glue and a pair of dowels. detail of head and footboard caps
Here is a close up of one of the two side rails that will support the mattress and box spring. You can see the other half of the bed rail fasteners that will engage with the head and footboards. Creating the mortises in the end grain was challenging, but they came out well. Notice the dowel that is glued in place so that the screws for the bed rail fastener will have some strong wood to grasp onto (screwing into end grain would be much weaker). detail of sice rail
After the first coat of oil finish dried, I thoroughly rubbed all surfaces with 0000 (4 aught) steel wool. I am very pleased with the finish: all of the sanding paid off. While you can only fully appreciate a fine wood finish in person, here is an enlarged view. finished footboard, click for an enlarged view

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