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  • Writer's pictureBrian McKinnon

DIY Storage Bed

Updated: Feb 4, 2022

We have a three year old, and like every other toddler, he's crazy, and also really hard on things. So when it was time to pass his crib down to his baby brother, we knew his replacement would need to be durable and able to store all of his little odds and ends that just seem to keep multiplying. Since we couldn’t find anything we liked, we’re just going to make one! Let’s get building.


Material Selection and Cutting

The main frame consists of a headboard, footboard, and two side panels, with space for three drawers. For the head and footboards I used pre made project panels from my local big box store. For the pieces I needed, it was cheaper to grab two of those as compared to a sheet of plywood. I did have just enough 3/4 inch plywood left over from a previous build, so I opted to use that for the long sides. You could also use MDF here, but the stuff is super heavy and just doesn't hold up as well as solid wood. Also, you don't need a table saw or track saw to cut these down. A circular saw combined with any long straight edge can make cuts precise enough for this.


Frame Assembly

The assembly of the frame was done with wood glue and pocket screws which is the bread and butter of furniture making. Pocket hole jigs are relatively inexpensive for the amount of value they can add to a piece of furniture. They create a very strong joint and also hide unsightly screw heads.

I'm sure there there was a way to use math to figure out exactly where these dividers should have gone, but I just moved them around until the gaps were all even and then marked them so that they ended up back in the right spot after applying glue.

This is the completed drawer side frame. We will measure and cut our drawer boxes and faces once the main frame is complete.

These corner clamps made putting the rest of the frame together a cinch. its great to have a spare set of hands when you're trying to hold bulky things together. Also, if you know anyone who likes DIY projects or woodworking, clamps are a great birthday or Christmas present as you usually can't have too many.

Since we are adding drawers to this bed, we need somewhere to attach the glides. Im adding these cross braces to do just that. It’s important here that the braces are as perpendicular to the openings as they can be to prevent any binding as the drawers slide in and out. I’m using a speed square to help check the alignment before securing them in.

Also, by placing two scrap pieces that are identical in height under each end, I ensure that each brace is placed at exactly the same height. This will give me an even frame of reference across the whole bed when it comes time to install the glides.

After completing the main part of the bed, I put together a simple frame that would support the mattress. I'm going to be laying a solid piece of plywood over this, so the slats don’t need to be too close together. You can get by without having to put a board on top by using a bunch of slats usually no more than 3 inches apart, but I'm trying to plan for the eventual toy that makes it out of a drawer and ends up trapped under the bed. Simply lifting up a board and being able to access the space seems like an easier prospect than trying to fish something out between narrow slats.

By recessing the support frame down into the main frame, we are left with a nice little lip all the way around the edges that will keep the mattress from sliding off in the event of any Spontaneous High Intensity Toddler situations. I'm first using a brad nailer to temporarily hold the frame in place before anchoring it in with screws.

I did have a bit of scrap left over, so I decided to throw in some blocking support for the slats to keep them from bowing or twisting. This actually came in handy later on for something else.


Drawer Cutting and Assembly

After cutting the bottom and sides for the drawers I assembled them using nothing but glue and brad nails. I don’t feel the need to use some fancy dovetail or complex joint, this way will be plenty strong for what it it will be used for. You can easily customize the height and depth of the drawers depending on what you want them for, but the width needs to be exactly one inch smaller than its corresponding opening in the bed frame to account for the thickness of the glides, which are a half inch each.

I'm going for an inset drawer here which means the face of the drawer will sit flush with the side of the bed. For this type of drawer you'll need to align the front edge of the glide with the rear edge of the opening. This will leave just enough room to attach the face panel to the front of the drawer box.

Using a scrap piece of wood placed on the bottom edge of the opening provides some clearance which prevents the box from rubbing against the frame as it opens and closes. Just make sure to remove it after installing the box.

Using a level on all sides before securing the box to the glides will help ensure the drawer faces are flush when they get attached.

After the boxes went in, I used a scrap piece of 3/4 to make sure the faces will sit flush when they’re installed. The glides may be adjusted slightly in the event that the face sits a little proud or recessed.

Each face was cut to fit its opening, with the goal of leaving a sixteenth of an inch gap all the way around. This is done by measuring the opening, then subtracting an eighth of an inch from the total width and height.

When you're fitting the face, you can stuff playing cards around the drawer to keep the gaps even, then come in from the back to secure it with screws. I love this trick and it just goes to show that making things work with what you have is always an option.

Once the face is even, you can attach it from the back side of the box using screws.

Since the top edges of the bed are going to be exposed, and my toddler loves finding corners with his head, I wanted to dull them down just a bit. Instead of sanding or routing, I added some rounded trim in the same thickness as the sides.

Once that was on I gave the whole thing a good sand to take care of any potential splinters.

I had a bit of a dilemma with the staining process. Plywood is not a great candidate for dark stain as it tends to take it in unevenly.

Sure enough it came out pretty blotchy, and some wood conditioner may have helped here, but in the end I decided to hit it with some sandpaper to intentionally give it a weathered look. Kind of one of those “Yeah, I meant to do that!” things. Of course you can choose to paint it or stain it to match any space.

Once that was done, I finished it off with some Polycrylic.

I used some black spray paint to coat some basic wooden pulls and attached them by drilling a hole through the center of the face.

I took some cheap adjustable feet and attached them to some leftover scrap to create a few support legs to go down the middle. This is probably overkill for a toddler, but I’d like for it to be able to handle anyone who might use it down the road.

After throwing in a piece of quarter inch ply and giving it a little integrity test, It was time to move it into the Kid’s room.

We’ve had some time to live with it and am really happy with how it turned out. My toddler loves filling and emptying the drawers, and I enjoy how nothing can get under there and get lost among the dust bunnies. Thanks for checking out this build!

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1 comentario

02 may 2023

Hello I just checked your project and this is something I would like to build, I have Con Heart fence boards 1"x 8"x 8' but not sure it that kind of wood is safe to use in interior or for a bed?

Thank you in advance

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