This turned out to be one of the most unique projects I’ve ever done. A customer wanted me to turn her husband’s forty year old childhood bed into a bench. I had no idea what she was talking about, but a little poking around on the web showed me that this is a fairly common thing. The approach will be idiosyncratic bed by bed, but you’ll find tips in this video that can help if you want to take on a similar project.
Assembly starts with disassembly
The first step was getting the bed apart. My goal was to make the bench with no new wood; completely recycle the old pieces. That meant being very careful as I took things apart. Tapping here, pulling there, paying careful attention to stress on the pieces so nothing bad would happen. Lots of patience, and it worked out ok.
A common approach to the bed to bench idea is keeping the headboard intact, and turning the footboard into the two bench ends. I took that same approach. I was able to reuse a lot of the original mortise and tenon joinery, and used dominoes where I needed to create new joints.
The customer wanted the finish refreshed, but not completely redone. Not knowing what the original finish was, dewaxed shellac was the key to this. It sticks to any finish, and any top coat will stick to dewaxed shellac. It’s the perfect between coats finish.
Projects, Projects and More Projects
What direction do you want to go next? WWGOA has lots of ideas available; more DIY projects than you can shake a stick at. I’d put bed to bench in the furniture making category. If you want to do more of that, be sure to check out the furniture making videos.
I made a bench from a headboard a friend had and then gave it back to her as a gift. She loved it and still uses it.
George you did a great job. (as always) I watch your vids a LOT for “how to dos” and have learned so much from them. I have been in woodworking as an after retirement ( registered nurse) hobby for about 12 years. I also do upholstery for my self and as an occasional job for friends. You did a nice job on the cushion.
Strong work, George. Bench looks great. Gonna be an awesome gift.
You are right in that this is an intimidating process. I built my youngest nephew a toddler bed from solid walnut, and when he outgrew it, my sister wanted it turned into a bench/toybox. This bed had come out beautifully so imagine being faced with turning one of your own creations into something else! I did basically the same that you did with the various parts, but did need to add new wood for the lid/seat. My sister is ridiculously happy with the end result, so, success!
Just how do you “PREDRILL” a hole? I understand holes which have been predrilled, meaning that they have been drilled earlier in the process and are existing.
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Measure the size of the screw shank, not including the protruding threads, and select a drill bit that is that size. Drill a hole to the depth of the screw in the location that you want to install the screw. That will allow the screw to be fastened securely without snapping off the screw or splitting the wood. After selecting my drill bit, I always do a test run on scrap first, installing a screw and making sure that it is the right fit.
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Having gone through this exact same process myself, and feeling the entire time that I had NO IDEA what I was doing (only diff was that the bed was metal and I only used the headboard), I can really appreciate this one! Great job! I’m only sorry you didn’t put the “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law” tag back under the seat cushion! Thanks, George, for all you do!
I liked your video. I would be reluctant to do that work for a customer, but for myself I would not hesitate to do something like this.
Ticket 21518 How much does converting a bed into a bench costs?
Thank you for your patience. In regards to your question-
There are lots of variables….pricing would depend on the condition of the original bed, what the customer wants as a final design, making the seat cushion, finishing requirements….
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Thanks for the video. I was wondering why you sprayed shellac first before you sprayed a top coat.
Great work. I think it turned out better than ‘Okay’. What do you think about the idea of canting the back (previously the head board) back at a small angle by making the bottom rails on the sides slightly shorter than the top rails on the sides and cutting the back edge of the side panels at the matching angle? Naturally the cut angles on the rails would also have to match. But the bench might be just a little more comfortable.
An angled back isn’t a bad idea, but normal construction for that would be straight legs and only the back that you’re leaning against at an angle. In order to get an angled back on this project I would have had to angle the entire back piece. I think that would look weird from the side. In all honesty, now that I’ve set on the completed bench, it’s pretty comfortable as is.
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Your experience and a good, solid-wood bed made for a beautiful end product. Really nice!
Thanks. It was fun, once I got over being nervous about messing with their childhood bed.
Great job, came out ok is a understatement.
Thanks. I was kinda nervous…messing with someone’s heirloom. I was happy with the result, and so were they (thankfully)
That is cool, George. But, I am just into restores of old anything.
Thanks. It was fun to do. Mostly. 🙂
That is so cool, George. I’m tempted to look for a cast out on Craigslist to convert for our own use. Thanks.
Thanks. I was skeptical about taking it on, but ended up enjoying the project a lot.
Please am okyere Agyiri from Ghana, how can i be part please