Making the Bed

Can’t sleep, clown’ll eat me…can’t sleep, clown’ll eat me…

– Bart Simpson (in a clown bed)

Things are starting to get done in the bedroom. Back at the dawn of time in March, we researched and then ordered a storage bed. It was an unfinished piece that we ordered from a company out east.

12-Drawer Queen Storage Bed by Delroc Furniture

12-Drawer Queen Storage Bed by Delroc Furniture

Since its arrival in early April, I’ve finished the wood and added cup pulls. It was looking pretty done by that point, but we needed to wait until we could get it into the bedroom to do the last few things.

delta glideOne of these things was to make the drawers more functional. It was my original intention to add metal drawer glides to the piece. There was an option to have the bed delivered with or without them; the price increase for glides wasn’t bad, but it sent the shipping through the roof (must put it over some weight limit). But we still wanted to avoid wood-on-wood induced sawdust and to have the drawers move smoothly, so we decided to order without glides and retrofit. I picked up some single-rail, undermount glides from Rockler.

Before getting freaky with glide installation, we mocked up one drawer to see how it would work. The Kev built a center support for the rail to attach to and we tacked it all together.

glide in place

I attached the glide itself to the underside of the drawer. With duct tape, natch.

glide on drawer

We inserted a drawer and it worked! But it made the inset drawer fronts sit a little high in their openings. It was within tolerances, but it didn’t look great. It is nice that the glide locks the drawer in so you can’t yank it all the way out, but these days we’re not rock-n-roll enough to be strewing furniture parts hither and yon. The glides are good for retrofitting — I do recommend them for that — but they just weren’t going to work for us.

Feels slimy, but isn't.

Feels slimy, but isn’t.

The alternative was drawer tape. Drawer tape attaches to the rails a drawer sits on and reduces friction (and dust creation). Initially, we could only find thick (10 mil, which is 3/8″) nylon tape. That was thick enough to put the inset drawer out of good alignment, just as the metal glide had. But then we found Slick Strips (ewww, I know), which are only 1/32″ thick — less than one mil! According to Woodcraft, “This special UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) adhesive-backed flexible plastic film has a low coefficient of friction and a high abrasion resistance that surpasses even Teflon.” Even Teflon! It takes one’s breath away.

The Kev cleaned the drawer rails and swiped rubbing alcohol on them to remove any oils. After cutting the strips to length, it was just a matter of pulling off the backing and sticking them down. I don’t know WHAT this adhesive is, but it sticks like grim death, which is great in the long run but a little tricky in the installation. We persevered.

small drawer

Moment of truth — the drawer slides wonderfully, and the skinny tape doesn’t mess up alignment. It’s a winner!

So that was one thing. The other thing was that this bed is basically two separate dressers, and we wanted to bolt them together for long-term stability. First step was to align the two halves and then clamp them together so we could drill bolt holes that would line up correctly.

clamped bed

This is where we began to think the bed was gonna win on the home stretch. In the picture, you’ll notice the openings for the drawers are not super tall and the sides of the bed are comparatively deep. But did you notice what these dimensions meant for the Kev when trying to drill through the structure from one side to the other?

clamped bed with kev

Quite a bit of stretching, cramping and generalized moaning ensued from both of us, since a bolt inserted on one side must be immobilized from the other. The face-smooshing exceeded even cinematic levels.

We managed to add six bolts — three along the upper structural rail and three along the bottom. I need a massage to put all my various shoulder muscles back into place, but you can stick a fork in this bed because it is DONE. (Update: Here’s our review of the bed after using it for a few months.)

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4 Responses to Making the Bed

  1. Lee says:

    Excellent write-up on the storage bed. Thanks especially for the insight on the UHMW tape. I would’ve never thought to use that, and now I’ve already thought of 3 or 4 places that I could! I have a suggestion on joining the two bed halves together using bolts and T-nuts. I’d like to know if this suggestion would’ve worked since we’re likely to build a couple of storage beds in the future, and also for others who might tackle this. I have to make a few assumptions, so I hope I’m correct in those. One of those assumptions is that the two center boards that run the length of the bed in the middle are at least 1/2″ thick. I’m assuming they are or they wouldn’t have the rigidity necessary to hold the two halves together. So, prior to assembly, place those two boards together and pre-drill the holes that will be used to bolt the two halves together. (If you’re borderline obsessive, use a drill bit that matches the bolt diameter, then enlarge the hole in the other board to accommodate the larger diameter of the T-nut. Otherwise, just drill them both the size for the T-nut. Trust me – either way, you can tighten these down plenty to make for a secure hold.) If for some reason that’s not an option, using a drill bit made for lamp-making would help you easily reach the center. Next, use 3, 4, or 6 prong T-nuts on one side instead of regular nuts. These can be tapped in as soon as you’ve drilled the holes. You’d still want a flat washer and lock washer on the other side, but this would allow for one person to do the connecting. Use a couple of extensions on your socket driver and no more face-smooshing (well, at least the face-smooshing is optional now). For those who haven’t used T-nuts before, you can find them at your hardware store or various online retailers. I buy them by the bag on amazon. They’re great for many different applications, but especially for anything that you might want to disassemble for whatever reason. In this case, it seems like they would greatly simplify the task and provide a very secure hold.

  2. Stacey says:

    Hey, Lee — that’s a great suggestion, thanks! I’m all for face-smooshing avoidance. Kev and I spent some time trying to remember what the thickness of the backing board was, but we could only agree that it was “thin”. I’m guessing it was about a quarter-inch of that luan board stuff, (Also, because of the hidden structural pieces, the backing pieces didn’t butt up to each other. We had to use a bunch of washers to take up the interim space. Not sure if that would be an issue.)

    Anyway, long story longer, I’m not sure that the T-nuts would work on this specific bed. Having said that, I WANT TO GO BACK IN TIME AND TRY THEM because what we did was not fun! I hadn’t thought of them, and now I’m jazzed about using them on a different project.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write at such length. I love the idea-swap aspect of blogging — please keep bringing the great suggestions! Also, let us know what you use the tape on. I love that stuff, and it has held up like a champ on these frequently used drawers.

  3. Anita says:

    Does the bed have to be bolted together? This is sounding too big a project for some 60 year olds who already have aching backs and shoulders!!

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