196 – The Platform Bed (Part 3 of 4) – The Rails

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The Tenons

tenon-cuttingThe massive bed rails are 82 1/2″ long, 6″ wide, and 3″ thick. But we need to start with standard 8/4 (1 3/4″) stock first. The tenons are cut at the tablesaw using a cross-cut sled and a dado stack. I actually had to sacrifice my regular cross-cut sled for this task, but it’s just as well since I needed a dedicated dado sled anyway.

tuning-tenonAfter a test fit, the tenons were finessed with a rabbeting block plane. The great thing about using hand tools to fine-tune the fit is the fact that they give you so much control. Each pass removes only a few thousandths of an inch worth of material. So even if you go one pass too far, the joint still fits reasonably well.

The Headboard Hardware

headboard-boltsThe rails are held in the headboard mortise with carriage bolts. I start by drilling through the back of the mortise and into the tenon itself. The drill bit only goes so far but makes a deep enough hole in the tenon that it’s easy enough to extend the hole to full depth after disassembly. Both bolts have some lateral movement for expansion and contraction.

nut-holesThe bolts aren’t very helpful we we don’t have a way to tighten them down. So in order to have access to the bolt, we need to drill a flat-bottomed hole with a forstner bit. This hole gives us plenty of room to install a washer and a nut.

The Footboard Hardware

threaded-rodFor the footboard side of the rails, the hardware is going to be a little different. Because the footboard is so thick, I decided to use a tap to create threaded holes. The rails will receive the same nut access holes they did on the headboard side and a piece of threaded rod will be used to make the connection. If you want more information on the wood-tapping process, check out Episode 167 – Tapping Threads in Wood.

Beefing Up – Outside Strip

add-on-stripsThe rails need to be brought up to a full 3″ thick. We’ll do that by adding a few strips of bubinga to each side. This will not only give the rails a thicker appearance, but it will also help them resist sagging. Furthermore, it creates an additional shoulder for the tenon joint which will help to further stabilize the structure. With careful attention to grain direction and materials, the rail will appear as one piece.

Beefing Up – Inside Strip

inside-stripThe inside strip is treated a little differently and receives a long rabbet. The rabbet will create a ledge that will later serve as a support for our horizontal mattress supports. The strip is attached to the inside of the rail with epoxy and screws for extra strength. The screws go in at a slight angle so we’ll need to pre-drill at that same angle. A small shim under the workpiece did the trick at the drill press.

Plug it Up!

plugsTo cover the screw heads, I cut my own plugs from scrap and drive them in with glue. Once the glue is dry, I trim them flush with a flush trim saw.

Category: Projects


  1. TennesseeYankee March 21, 2013

    I can’t wait until next time….

  2. wes March 23, 2013

    I’m loving these next time on the wood whisperer endings to the video.

  3. Bob D. March 25, 2013

    Great video Marc! Thanks for sharing!

    Bob D.

  4. What finish were you brushing on at the end?

  5. Jeff March 26, 2013

    Marc, Great video! I have loved learning from you! On another note, I see you are using the Marples chisels. I would love to know your thoughts on the set. I have an old Craftsman set that has seen better days and think I will be getting a new “general use” set soon. Marples was a set I was looking at!


  6. Chris dyer March 27, 2013

    Decent project Marc. Question about your plugs: whenever I use plugs I choose pieces with matching grain, cut everything flush then sand until they’re invisible; great! Then I finish and where I had invisible plugs I have dark circles:-(
    Do you have a technique which prevents the finish from highlighting the outline of the plug??


      I do not. The best you can do is make sure you have a tight-fitting plug. But most times, the outline is inevitable. Essentially, on two sides, you have a cross-grain joint line. And by nature, cross-grain joint lines are nearly impossible to hide completely. So unfortunately, I don’t have any cool tips or tricks for avoiding the issue.

  7. Bob March 27, 2013

    Part of the issue with outline showing after finish is applied could be the resulting glue line created around the plug. It may be thing but still there. And glue does not take finish as wood does. Just a thought would be to produce very tight plugs and only apply a small amount of glue in the hole and not on the plug so the glue holds base of plug but don’t have squeese out to give you a glue line. I might not be right but just a thought I had when Chris talked about plug showing up after finish was applied.

  8. Keith April 2, 2013

    What sort of epoxy are you using? I’ve used the West System on wood before and there is no need for screws. The epoxy is incredibly strong. Also, there is a stage in the epoxy set up where it is not fully solid, but not a liquid either. I find this is a good time to remove the excess. You can cut it with a sharp knife or chisel. It is more of a hard rubber consistency. It won’t sand in this stage, but you can remove larger quantities easier.

  9. David May 30, 2013

    First things first, beautiful work. Now, I have a question. If I was a client wanting to commission you to build some furniture for me, how much would something like this bed cost me?

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