I need to build a queen-size waterbed pedestal with 6 drawers, and
maybe a cubby. The drawers will hold sheets, pillow cases, blankets,
etc. Anyone have some basic plans that uses minimal wood, yet strong
I don't have the plans for it (except in my head) but I built a
California King size bed like that about 20 years ago for my wife. We
still sleep on it every night. Basically...
I wanted to be able to disassemble the bed into reasonably sized
components so the base is two sections, each as long as the bed and half
The drawer frame sides in the bases - which are also the supports for
the mattress boards - are 3/4 particle board. The PB pieces are joined
longitudinally by 3 - 1x2 fir strips which are glued and screwed to
shaped cutouts at the inside top/bottom and outside top of each piece of
PB; the outside bottom cutout is larger for a toekick and the sections
are joined there with pieces of walnut ply incorporated into the bed
sides. The fir strips are set slightly into the PB so the PB, not the
strips, carry most of the weight.
The two base sections have mating, rabbeted pieces of 1 1/2" oak
fastened vertically on the inside at the center of the foot and head
ends; those oak pieces each have two matching through holes so that they
can be bolted together.
They are each one piece of 3/4 walnut ply with cutouts for inset drawer
fronts. They are permanently attached to each base by gluing to the top
outside piece of fir on the bases and into the base cutouts for the toe
There is a piece of 3/4" oak attached vertically at the inside of the
foot ends so that the sides can be fastened to the foot. The oak strip
is only long enough to reach from floor to below the fir strips; i.e.,
it does not show when the bed is assembled.
Two pieces of 3/4 walnut ply glued into stopped 3/4 x 3/4 dados in 1 1/2
x 4" solid walnut pieces at each end and the center. The solid walnut
pieces are maybe 1 1/2" longer than the ply is wide so that the ends
could be shaped and stand proud.
The dados alone aren't sufficient to join the ply panels (when the
footboard in't attached to the bed) so there is a piece of ply about 2
1/2 - 3" wide attached on edge across the two ply panels...it also
serves as a rest for the mattress support panels.
The outboard solid wood pieces have dados to accept the ends of the bed
sides. They also have two threaded brass inserts so that the sides can
be bolted to the footboard after they are inserteed into the dados. The
sides have a piece of hardwood attached perpendicular to the ends and
are bolted through that strip into the threaded inserts.
This is made of four pieces of 3/4 walnut ply. Two of the ply pieces
are the width of the bases; the other two are narrower.
The headboard is sectional, each section being one wide piece and one
narrow piece of ply. Those pieces are glued and screwed to vertical
solid 3/4 x 4" walnut pieces that have a rabbet along the back edges to
receive the ply. Wide rabbet...maybe 1" wide, 1/4 deep. They are
similarly joined at the top. I wanted a top that could be a small shelf
so it too is 4" wide. The sides of the ends are finished with another
3/4 x 4" piece of walnut.
The two headboard sections are joined in the same manner as the
bases...1 1/2" oak pieces vertically on the back sides, oak pieces
rabbeted so they mate, through bolted.
The finished headboard is 10 feet long...the total width of the two
middle sections are the width of the bed; the outboard ends accomodate
nightstands which are hung from French cleats on the headboard. The
headboard itself is hung from French cleats on the wall. The base
sections are just cozied up close to the headboard, not attached.
Just four pieces of 1/2" fir ply. Could have used two (each full bed
length and half ther width but four are easier to handle. They rest on
the fir strips that join the PB pieces. Those fir strips, BTW, are
beveled on the top inboard edges...the fir ply panels are beveled so
Three on each side, equal width, each partioned, each close to 36" deep,
full extension slides. Wife wanted aromatic cedar but it would have
been ridiculously expensive to obtain where we lived at the time
(Honolulu). Instead, I got some of the 3/8" T&G stuff that is used to
line closets. Laid it up and glued to 1/4" walnut ply for the drawer
sides, backs and bottoms. Used 3/4 walnut ply for the fronts. Had to
special order slides from Knape Voght.
Any exposed edges of ply or PB are capped with walnut strips.
Bedrooms often just have one electrical outlet in the wall where the bed
is so I put duplex outlets into the outboard ends on the bottom of the
headboard, wired #14 extension cords into them. When setting up the bed
I can plug the cords into the wall; once the bed is set up, lamps and
the like can have their wires go down between headboard and night stands
and be plugged into the headboard outlets. Ditto for phone. Meets
code? Dunno, don't care.
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Have you checked a water bed store? It is shockingly surprising how little
wood is used and how flimsy all of them are until you add hundreds of pounds
of water on top to stabilize the whole structure. Additionally I am shocked
that each time that I set my sister in-laws water bed up that it continues
to hold up. I know that the bed has been moved 6+ times in 20 years. Hers
is a king size with 12 drawers.
Ditto that. I had a king waterbed, a Sealy Hydropedic (best night's
sleep I ever got, BTW) that I had to give away, and it was amazing to
me how chintzy the frame was. On the other hand, I've seen a load test
of a red oak 2x2 and it supported just over 9,000 pounds before it
failed. Even if your waterbed is 10x10 and a full foot thick, that's
6,300 pounds or so. Obviously, there are lateral loading
considerations for motion in the ocean, so to speak, but 2x lumber
frame finished out with 1/2" ply would be more than sufficient.
I know that you were looking for plans, but have you considered buying one?
Waterbeds are considerably less popular now than they once were. When I
got married, we got rid of my wife's queen for $50. Pedestal, frame,
headboard, and mattress.
I know of people who have just given them away as well. Depending on where
you live, they can be easily had for free.
I don't know that I have ever seen anything other than 2x pine stock for
construction, though. So if you were looking for something other than
that, you would likely have to build.
Thanks for all the comments/feedback, and I would appreciate more! I
just got back from my local library, yet I found nothing(!) about
waterbed pedestal construction. Don't understand the unpopular
reasons for a waterbed, as I've slept on one for over 30 years. I'm
not necessarily asking for free plans, I'm willing to purchase if I
can find them.
I agree with the "buy used" sentiment. I have a super-single that our
son has not had room to take. A dealer told me that it was worth $50
tops. He chopped his up to get rid of the thing. The conventional beds
with water-tubes in a soft-side mattress are popular.
The construction is very chintzy - drawers without slides, soft pine
1x2 and masonite drawer bottoms. All covered with a dark stain to make
it look attractive. Joints are only stapled together lightly. Little
glue, no screws.
I have a king size with captain's pedestal: 4 drawers and two doors on
each side, one door at the foot into a tunnel up the middle. Simple
3/8" plywood deck boards.
The super single, queen and king can all use the same pedestal and side
rails. The only difference is the width of the footboard, dummyboard
under the head and whatever headboard sits on top of the rails. So, you
can actually use ANY size and stretch it to fit.
Try this for a slide show of the assembly
Plans are available http://www.woodcraft.com/family.aspx?familyidg50
My frame is 2 drawers high, factory made. Imagine a Tic Tac Toe layout
for the base. The 4 corners are the 2 drawer units with one finished
side, the drawer frame side and 2 raw interior sides. The headboard end
had a panel that slides into groves of the top units and the foot end
has a single door frame that slides in, possibly screwed to the sides,
to close it off. The sides have double door frames that are screwed in
to hold the sides together. Inner bracing consists of 1x3 'L' cross
section frames holding the side units together with cross bars from side
to side at the top. Opening the bottom single door you have a 7' long
storage area with nothing on the floor. Opening the side doors you have
a 2' storage hole with a cross brace on the floor separating it from the
middle long section. 3 pieces of decking go on top of this and the 2x
frame rests on it. Add a headboard and you're done.
I built a very big version of what you are looking for my oldest son. Each
drawer case holds 6 drawers that are roughly 24" wide x 30" front to back
and about 7" deep. Total height from floor to top of the 3/4" plywood deck
is about 22". Instead of a water bed they purchased a select comfort air
mattress. However, I built it very stout and it would have supported a
water bed if that's what they had ended up with. From floor to sleeping
surface its 36". Daughter-in-law needs a step stool to climb into bed. We
put the drawers on 30" Blum Tandem fully concealed slides. Very nice but
expensive. Doubt you would be interested in anything that big, however, it
would be easy to make a similar unit in a smaller size. I have some
pictures showing parts for the drawer cases I could send you. Drop me a
note if interested.
One caveat you might want to keep in mind. A queen-sized waterbed
frame may or may not be the same size as a queen-sized regular
mattress frame. We bought a regular mattress to replace our waterbed
mattress, and it was a special size made to fit a waterbed frame.
Heating a waterbed can be the largest cost associated with it, and a
bit of insulation in the design could save a LOT of money over the life
of the frame. I also really don't like the typical smaller pedestal
design, our bed has the drawer units the same dimensions as the frame
around the mattress).
Despite arguments about bumping toes ( I never have), my guess is that
the real reason for the pedestal design is that its cheaper, or used
some existing standard sized drawer units. Making the base drawer
portion the same size as the mattress frame, looks MUCH more like
furniture to me, and provides a bit more storage etc. Think about it,
maybe draw a picture, and see if it isn't more appealling to you as
Water has a HUGE heat capacity, the lower the amount of insulation
between you and the mattress, the smaller the comfortable temperature
range of the water. Neutral to the skin is around 91 F in the water,
and maybe 72 F for air in the room. One degree of change in the water
is like maybe 5 degrees change in the air depending on air motions and
The builder can't do anything about heat loss off the top, thats pad
and sheets and blankets. I like some heat warming the stuff in the
drawers, so I am suggesting insulation for the sides of the mattress
frame, and reducing the airflow if not insulating the outside of the
drawer base instead of just insulations directly below the mattress
support, except maybe something directly below the heater pad to kind
of reflect up.
I know just enough to be dangerous, so wiser heads correct me. Instead
of the typical 1" solid wood frame with a padded cap, how about making
a sandwich of 1/2" PB or PW, 1" insulation, 1/2" PB or PW, with a solid
wood top and/or bottom plate? Maybe make the drawer faces larger than
the openings so that they close flush to the surface, and generally
avoiding gaps etc. for air to flow through the bottom.
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