Salvaged King Size Bed

Rummaging through a local antique store, my wife came across two identical king size four poster headboards.  No footboard, and no bed rails.  In this post, I’ll go over how we converted this find into a functional bed.  The first step was to modify one of the headboards to turn it into a footboard.  In this photo, you can see one of the original headboards along with the modified one in the foreground.  To do this, I took one headboard apart completely, and lowered the “top section” by removing the bottom rail.  This also required remortising the posts to accept the top section tenons.

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Here, you can see the details of the new mortise.  The old one was filled with epoxy wood filler and sanded smooth.

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Once the new footboard was constructed, I moved on to designing and building the bed rails.  I decided to go with some bed hardware from Lee Valley for connecting the rails to the head/foot boards and connecting support beams between the rails.  I used their mortise free bed locks and knockdown hardware as shown here:,40842&p=41269

I made the rails from 1×8 Poplar, mostly because I couldn’t get a good price on oak over the weekend.  First, I cut them to length to match the mattress plus an inch of wiggle room.  On each end, I glued and screwed a backing block and attached the hooks for the bed lock.  The extra height at the top is where the box spring will set into the frame.  I was initially confused by this bracket and I attached it so that the hooks protruded from the end of the rail.  In reality, it should be flush with the end and it will make sense in the next couple of photos.

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Next, I attached the other end of the bed locks to the headboard and footboard.  Make sure to pick a place that both looks nice but also accounts for the width of the mattress and box springs.  

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Here you can see how the rail interfaces and locks with the headboard.

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I did a dry fit of the frame to figure out where my support beams would go and how to attach the hardware.

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I made the support beams out of select pine 2×6’s for cost since they won’t be visible at all once the mattress is in place.  I evenly spaced them in the frame and cut them to length.  Then I marked the rails where the beams would attach and installed the knock down hardware.  Here you can see the backing block and receiver bracket installed.

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These are the completed rails.

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I installed the knockdown hardware on the 2×6 and test fit.  Be sure to make a hole in the 2×6 where the giant screw from the receiving bracket can pass into it.

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Next, I began the process of priming and painting.  I don’t have a sprayer (yet!) so I was relegated to spray paint.  This was fairly difficult to cover up the brown laminate, but several coats did the trick….. to be exact: sand, prime, sand, paint x2, buff, paint x2.  You can see in this photo how splotchy the spraying is.

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After all the painting was done, I moved everything into the bedroom and assembled.  This revealed two problems:  First, I made the bed a few inches too long and it looked horrible.  This required cutting the rails and reinstalling the bed locks.  Second, with the box spring in place, the bed was WAY too tall.  It looked ridiculous.  We considered not using the box spring and instead putting down a piece of plywood, but this meant going to get some sheets and cut them which would have taken a few hours and cost another $50.  Instead, we opted to hack apart the box springs!

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He we are in the kitchen with our two box springs.  The one on the let has already been shortened.  I just took them apart and cut all of the vertical standoffs.  Then we reattached the upholstery and good to go!  This only took about 30 minutes per box spring, and it was free.

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Here are a few shots of the finished product!

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