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Making a Trundle Bed

Learn how to make a child's trundle bed by following these steps. Be sure to check out the different designs before you lay your design out.

Materials and Tools:

poplar wood
wood planer
wood glue
nap roller
wood clamps
table saw
router (with 1/2-inch roundover bit)
miter saw
random-orbit sander
drill press
hammer (and long nail)
wood dowels
pneumatic stapler
pneumatic nailer
sixpenny finishing nails
band saw
2-1/2-inch galvanized screws
drill and 9/16-inch paddle bit
quick-drying wood putty
nap roller and paintbrushes
semi-gloss paint
brass handles
four casters (to allow the trundle to roll)


1. To prepare lumber for the bed posts, first plane all the pieces. Pass lumber through a wood planer, removing a small amount of wood each time until the surface is completely smooth (figure A).

2. Assemble the post pieces by applying wood glue to all the surfaces, then sliding the glued surfaces against each other to create a firm bond. Use clamps and scrap wood to hold the wood pieces together while they dry (figure B). Wait 24 hours while the wood settles down.

3. Remove the wood clamps and move the wood to a table saw. Rip the posts to approximately four inches wide. You may have to pass through both sides of the lumber to cut through all the wood (figure C). Run the cut wood through the planer again to ensure smooth surfaces. Use a router to smooth the edges of the posts.

4. Use a miter saw to cut the posts to length. This bed required two posts 40 inches long for the headboard and two posts 21 inches long for footboard. Sand all the posts with a random-orbit sander (figure D).

5. Once you determine the location of the grooves for the bedrails, use a table saw to cut slits into the posts about 1-1/2 inches deep. At a drill press, drill two 1/4-inch holes about four inches deep into the side of each post (figure E). Insert metal rods into the holes using a hammer. The rods are appx. two inches long and will support the bedframe. Use a long nail to completely seat the rods.

6. Insert wood glue into the holes, then wood dowels. Once the glue has started to cure, saw off the top of the dowels (figure F) and sand the wood smooth.

7. For the headboard and footboard frames, rip several 2x4s to 1-1/4-inches squared and then cut them to length on the miter saw.

8. Assemble the frame for the footboard with glue and screws at each joint. This frame will support the beadboard and remaining trim pieces for the footboard. The next step is to attach the first sheet of beadboard to the frame using glue and staples to secure it (figure G).

9. The next step is to attach the beadboard assembly to the two footboard posts about two inches up from the bottom of the posts using glue and screws. Turn the footboard over and attach a second sheet of beadboard using glue and staples. Add four pieces of 1x6 poplar as trim to give it a finished look (figure H), but this time with glue and a nailer. Repeat these steps for the headboard.

10. To create a decorative piece for the headboard, the tops and bottoms of spindles were cut away with a band saw. Marks were made along a poplar board every three inches for the spindle locations. Clamp two poplar boards together and drill pilot holes through both the boards at each of the marks and the spindles. Secure the spindles between each of the boards with glue and screws (figure I).

11. The next step is to apply glue to the top of the headboard and attach a 1x4 piece of poplar as a trim piece, securing it with finishing nails. On top of this piece, attach the spindle assembly and cap it off with a 1x6. Round off the edges with a router (figure J). Repeat the same procedure for the footboard. Cut lumber for a trim assembly (optional), attaching the assembly to the bed rails to create side rails.

12. Now that the bed is assembled, it's time for the trundle. With plywood (for the bottom) cut to size, begin cutting 2x4s that will form the frame for the trundle. Use a miter saw for the cuts. To assemble the frame, drill holes in the sides of the 2x4s with a drill and 9/16-inch paddle bit (figure K). Join the 2x4s with screws to complete the frame.

13. Once the frame is built, apply a generous bead of wood glue along the frame and attach the plywood (figure L). Secure with staples.

14. Cut more poplar to length to begin building the box that will contain the trundle mattress. Attach the lumber to the frame with more wood glue and sixpenny finishing nails. Use 1x6 lumber for three sides of the box and one 1x10 piece for the front of the trundle (the side that will face out). You have basically constructed a box at this point.

15. Apply a quick-drying putty to the nail holes and when the putty dries, give the entire piece a good sanding (figure M). Once all the surfaces are prepped, apply a primer with a nap roller, allow to dry, sand again, then cover with paint. Attach two brass handles to the front and four casters underneath.

16. Set the headboard in place first, then the footboard, rails and slats. Add the mattresses and slide the trundle in for a complete trundle bed . This will cost around 600 dollars and take several days to finish, including drying time.

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