Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bed Building Tips

Okay ladies and gents....who wants a step by step guide to building a bed?

...what's that? crickets? yeah...that's what I thought. I don't feel like re-hasing it either. [note to self:  blog WHILE doing my next project...not all at the end]

So how bout this - I'll just give you guys a little insight on the knowledge I gained while Mark and I attempted our first furniture building project. Yep, I said first. Our very first furniture project was something that we'd use every single day -- at least 8 hours each day (on good nights)......about 56 hours a week....almost 3000 hours a year...yeah, well, you get my drift....we're brave. unknowingly optimistic. or just down right dummies. But here we are, 2 and a half months later and our bed is STILL standing. hells to the yeah.

Tip 1 - Buy Straight Boards. Even if you have to look through every single board at Home Depot/Lowe's/your neighborhood hardware store - trust me, it's worth it.

Tip 2 - Do Your Research. Going into the project, figure out how you are going to make everything work. Measure your mattress. Measure your room and the space where the furniture will go. Double check your measurements for your wood cuts. Make any design changes in the beginning. Plan out how you'll connect it all. And possibly most importantly, measure your stairwell and make sure you're going to be able to transport it into your room of choice ;)

Tip 3 - Have Lowes/Home Depot/Hardware store of choice make your large cuts for you. Don't have a table saw? No problem...neither do we. Lowe's (and Home Depot) will cut your wood purchases for you.....for FREE. Just select your wood, find a lumber department employee and ask them to cut your wood (before you purchase it). {why does that sound like a dirty joke?!} Make sure to give them exact measurements (even down to the 16th) and feel free to check their work before you leave the store with it. ....oh, and save your receipts in case of any errors.

Tip 4 - Visit a Woodworking Shop to Buy your Stain and Ask the Old Men Working in the Shop for Their Advice. Sounds odd, right? Well this is probably one of the best things we did, by sheer dumb luck. I did my research on stains and found that the one that was most likely to give me the look I was going for (both in ease of use and color) was General Stains. Well, my local Lowe's (or Home Depot...I keep saying Lowe's b/c it's literally less than 5 miles from my house) doesn't sell General Stains so that sent me on a mission to find a place that did. That mission took me to a woodworking shop about 25 minutes away, but boy was it worth it. The guys that work at these shops are a wealth of knowledge. Feel free to ask them a million questions....they love helping a younger generation that actually wants to BUILD things.

Tip 5: Building is the Easy Part. Finishing is the Part that Never Ends. The old man in the woodworking shop gave us detailed instructions on how to finish wood. He literally referred to finishing as "The Dark Arts of Woodworking"....yeah, I'd say he takes this stuff pretty seriously. Finishing - unfortunately - calls for a step by step guide (see any foreshadowing here?!?)......

  1. Sand. Sand, a LOT. Start with 150 grit and work your way up to 220 grit. (we did 150, 180, 220) If you skip a grit you will not get a smooth finish and it will be noticeable. We got a little lazy on one of the boards at the end (long story, but it was the 2nd board we had bought of it's kind...the first one ended up being too crooked. we were ready for this project to be over by this point)
  2. Spray shellac on everything to seal the wood if you're using a soft wood like pine. This will help the stain to soak in evenly. We used Zinsser Clear Spray Shellac. 
  3. Wipe everything down thoroughly. I used water and a car washing sponge with almost all of the water squeezed out. Rinse often. 
  4. Mix your stain 50-50 with Mineral Spirits (you might not need to do this with all stains, but i used General Stains - Java and the woodworking guru suggested it....glad I did. It gave me a beautiful finish)
  5. Test your stain on a scrap piece of wood (sooooooo glad I did this) to make sure you like the color. If not, adjust your mineral spirit/stain mixture. 
  6. Wipe the stain on with a lint free rag (we used a ripped up t-shirt). Go heavy handed when wiping on and then gently wipe off with a clean rag. Use long strokes when applying and when wiping off use one long continuous stroke. 
  7. Allow to dry and evaluate color. If you'd like for it to be darker then apply another coat of stain. 
  8. Poly. (oh how I hate thee) We used Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane in a Semi-Gloss. Apply with a NATURAL BRISTLE BRUSH (like China White). Use long strokes. 
  9. Allow the 1st coat of Poly to dry for 48 hours. Notice I said first coat. ....there will be more. 
  10. LIGHTLY sand the 1st coat of Poly. It was suggested that we use 400 grit black wet sandpaper, but we found that this removed too much poly and even some stain. **Note - even if you have a sander, DO THIS SANDING BY HAND!!! we learned the hard way. So instead, we used Steel Wool #0000, again, very gently. 
  11. Apply 2nd coat of Poly same as first. **Note - make sure you thoroughly clean your [expensive] brushes between each use. We washed them with mineral spirits and then soap and THEN brushed them with a comb. 
  12. Allow to Dry for 48 hours
  13. Lightly sand, again with Steel Wool #0000
  14. 3rd Coat of Poly - a little different than before. Mix this one with Mineral Spirits (about 30% spirits) and WIPE on with a lent free rag (again, we used an old t-shirt). Make sure to use one long, continuous stroke.
  15. Allow to Dry for 48 hours......and you're done!!! **Note - you can apply more than 3 coats of will just make your finish more durable. Our woodworking guru recommended at least 3. We were soooooooo over this project by 3 coats though that we couldn't stand to do any more. Just repeat steps 8-13 and save step 14 for the last coat. 
Tip 6 - Make Sure Your Furniture Will Break Down for Moving. We used brackets (Simpson ties) along with bolts and washers so that we could take the siderails apart from the headboard and footboard. The horizontal canopy pieces come off of the headboard and footboard as well.

Tip 7 - Be Patient and Plan that This Project Will Take a LOT More Time than You Anticipated - Especially if It's Your First. This project took us 3 months - 'nuff said. 

Tip 8 - GOOD LUCK!!!!! ;) ...with a lot of patience and a *lot* of elbow grease, you'll end up with a piece of furniture that you can treasure for a lifetime!

No comments: