Building Your Own Custom Waterbed Frame
by: Michael O'Brien
I can remember buying my first hard sided waterbed in the early nineteen seventies. The bed was a simple affair with a wood frame, mattress, safety liner and a piece of foam. There was no riser or pedestal, no headboard, no padded rails and the pinewood frame rails were not finished. Since the bed did not come with a heating system, the foam was placed atop the mattress, and served as an insulator from the mattress. Without a heater, the temperature of water in mattresses would never rise above the ambient temperature of the room, so the foam was must.
Having slept on a waterbed for over twenty years, I have noticed that the basic frame design has not changed very much. Even with the introduction of pedestal type risers, the bed still consists of the same basic components. Designs that are more elaborate can be found, including some very nicely finished four poster models.
I recently saw one model with what I can only describe as a roof. The roof was complete with mirrors and special light effects. There was a built in surround sound system and my favorite feature, a flat screen television mounted above the foot of the bed. The rails were topped with genuine leather padding and included cup holders and a storage slot for the remote control.
In the early days of waterbeds, folks who had some basic woodworking skills could build a very functional waterbed frame from scratch. Even today, there are inexpensive plans available that can make building your own frame much easier. The cost of a factory frame may well be less than building a frame from scratch. However, there is something about making things with own hands that always had a unique appeal to many of us.
Like many other consumer products, many waterbed components, including waterbed frames, are made outside of the United States. Depending on were the frame is made, the quality of the wood used may not up to par. Many areas of the U.S. have very strict air quality standards that make it more expensive to apply wood finishes such as stain, varnishes and paints. Offshore producers often do not have such restrictions. The cost of lumber has been rising steadily over the last few years and frame quality can suffer as some manufacturers attempt to cut costs.
The environmental movement has help to drive the recycling of building materials including wood. There is a definite trend toward recycling everything from antique hardware to hardwoods. Imagine being able to build your own waterbed frame from recycled oak other hardwood for less than the cost of a factory made pinewood frame.
If we examine the average waterbed frame rail, it is typically made from two by ten inch lumber. The length depends on the size of the bed. Factory made frames will have a notch along the bottom length of the rail. This square notch allows the rail to fit properly over the decking and is critical to the structural integrity of the bed. The manufacturer will use a router to make the notch.
In building a frame from scratch, the notching process can be replaced by fastening a strip of wood, one inch by two inch on the inside length of the frame rail. No routing required. The frame rails can be fastened together at the corners using common door hinges. This assembly technique requires only a simple hand saw, screws, wood glue and a screwdriver. The pedestal or riser and headboard can also be built from recycled wood, following a set of basic frame plans.
As for finishing your frame, there are a wide variety of water based stains and paints that require far less in the way of special handling that more volatile oil or solvent based materials.
If you can use a screwdriver, hand or power saw and a paint brush, you can build your own waterbed frame.
About the Author
Michael O'Brien is a writer for many popular websites.