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DIY log bed!

Posted by: Tammy

Ever since we bought our little cabin up north, I have dreamed of having a log bed in our loft.   What my heart wanted, our budget couldn’t afford.  That said, if there is a will, there is a way and with a bit of ingenuity, labor and love, I got my dream:  a log bed for our loft! IMG_1101

The most “traditional” way to make log furniture probably involves felling trees, a draw knife, large bits and tenon cutters (I’m interested in making more log furniture for our cabin but having a good night sleep begets creativity and sleeping on the air mattress was doing nothing for my efforts to learn how to make traditional log furniture).  Therefore, my husband had the idea to start with wood that would save us considerable time and effort:  round cedar fence rails!


Round, cedar fence posts are log furniture in the raw!


We used corner fence posts for the corner posts of the bed (you’ll see a picture of those later)  Those corner fence posts have the holes (mortise) for the tenons (the dowel ends of the cedar poles that go into the mortise) pre-drilled at a 90 degree angles to each other (if you look carefully at the top of the corner posts in the first picture, you can see the top of the headboard rail going into one tenon and the front tenon is left unused ).  The corner fences posts are used for just that;  creating a 90 degree corner in the fence.  The rails already had the tenons but seeing as we didn’t need, nor have room for, 10 foot side rails, we’d have to cut then redesign the tenons.  Now I will tell you that there is actually a dowel planer or simply put, a tenon maker you can attach to a drill and it will neatly, easily and QUICKLY create your tenons.  We shopped at three local hardware stores for the tenon maker and came up empty handed so my middle son went back on what we DID have:  chisels, saws and a draw knife.  Ben is training to be a machinist but his skill with metals came in handy when working with the wood and he kept the chisel and draw knife wickedly sharp so he created beautiful new tenon ends.


Ben used a chisel and drawl knife to create the tenons.



We dry fit all the pieces in the workshop.  We had to bring down the tenons a bit more here and there to make things fit properly but soon our bed was coming together.  We were also fitting the bed with 3/4″ plywood for the platform.

Notice the corner fence post in this picture.

Notice the corner fence post in this picture.

We pre-drilled all the joints with a countersink and inserted wood screws straight into the end of the  tenons to hold everything in place (as the wood continues to dry, the   screw will be drawn deeper into the wood) This is traditionally done with pegs and perhaps someday I’ll get there, but for this job, I went for easier and used screws. Our situation is unique in that the loft has a narrow set of stairs which means the final assembly had to be done in the loft.  We fully assembled and secured the head board and foot board and pre-drilled the sides rails but didn’t secure them.  We would have to make final assemble up in the loft (yep, if we ever sell the cabin, the log bed will go with the purchase because I don’t plan on trying to disassemble the bed for the buyer 😉 ).

I removed our NOT-so-beloved air mattress, the moving pad that doubled as our rug (hey, it was free with any purchase from Harbor Freight and served fine as a rug) and the small shelf hubby had on his side of the loft.  I installed two area rugs I get at this new store in town:  Runnings-think a glorious mix of Tractor Supply, Cabelas and Home Depot.  The loft is 7’X9′ and they had 5’X7′ bound carpet fragments for only $20 each!  I bought two carpets, laid them across the 7′ wide loft with just a bit of overlap that occurs under the bed so I didn’t even cut it (oh my goodness, 7’X9′ area rugs were going for upwards of $120 so this was a deal!).  Then my mom and I finished most of the assembly (making sure to check the bed was square several times).  When hubby and the boys got back home, they lifted the heavy 3/4″ ply into the loft and we screwed the platform to the side rails for stability.  I aired out my Mémé-far-away’s Dresden Plate quilt (my mémé far-away was my great grandmother who lived in the Pindarville section of Manchester, NH which still has such a population of French-Canadians that the butcher still sells their homemade gorton which a French-Canadian meat spread) and we finished making the log bed look good!

My great-grandmother's Dresden Plate quilt.  You know how much I love quilts on a rail, airing out on a sunny day!

My great-grandmother’s Dresden Plate quilt. You know how much I love quilts on a rail, airing out on a sunny day!

Now, I will tell you that my loft is small and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get the entire bed into the picture at one time so I’ll give you a few pictures of our homemade log bed. IMG_1092


A view coming up the loft stairs.

A view coming up the loft stairs.

The headboard of the log bed with a puzzle picture mom made and saved for just that s[ace!

The headboard of the log bed with a puzzle picture mom made and saved for just that space!








Sleeping in your own bed is wonderful.  Sleeping in your bed knowing that you made it and that it fulfills a dream you had means even more.  The fact that we were able to make this bed for about $120 in supplies and our time is like frosting on the cake.  I will tell you that this isn’t a complex design for a log bed.  I truly appreciate the time and effort a skilled craftsman puts into some log creations so I would in no way, shape, or form say they don’t deserve the price tag.  Even the simple design of this log bed would have cost us between $400 and $800 (I just found one log bed with four short corner logs and only one log across for the headboard and one log acres for the footboard and it cost $1550!!!).

So I will let you go now.  I am tired.  It’s a good tired that comes from working the soil, being outside in lots of fresh air and making and building with my hands.



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