I picked up an antique 1940's (according to the lady) bed frame. I saw it on-line advertised in an estate sale. What I liked is that it was cheap, I think I paid about $75 for it and great lines. The height was also an eye grabber for me. After seeing it in person I immediately thought about making it into a bench as I had never done a bed frame to bench conversion. The only issue with this is that the buyer may need a larger entryway, as this thing is pretty tall.
So, first things first, I'll strip this thing down and then sand it down. Since, I am probably painting it so I won't strip it all the way down to bare wood, although that'd be the best thing to do if re-staining it. After that, I'll cut the footboard in half and turn them 90°. That gives me the depth of the seat and the headboard gives me the width. I've got some old #2 red oak hardwood flooring left over from a job about a million years ago and I'll use that on the seat top. I won't paint that, but more than likely stain it, maybe ebony.
Part II is the removing the finish and sanding it down. As you noticed I've removed the inserts. I will sand them down separately but I will re-install them afterward.
What I've liked so far about this thing is that it had the original screws holding them inserts in. I like that and I always (if possible) try to use and keep the original hardware on things. It has character and I think that everytime a piece is lost, the piece loses it's character a little bit.
The first thing to do here is to remove the finish. Even though I won't be using the rails on the final product, I did those too, just so they were done. I've gotta say, while this thing isn't all real wood, the wood that is real is super nice. I'd say that roughly 75% is real wood. The inserts are real I think but they aren't anything I've ever seen.
It took me a few hours to sand everything down and get it ready for the next step and as of now I'm tired and I'm quitting for the day.
Prep For Build
Now is the fun part, although it's all fun. It's time for the build, Now that everything is stripped and sanded, I can cut the headboard in half and turn the pieces 90° to create our bench.
Since the legs are curved I have to pay attention to where half way is. With square legs it's easy, but since these are curved it's a little different. So, using a couple of squares I'll be able to find the center. After setting up the squares with some clamps to hold them, I'll measure between them to find the center. On each side of my center line, I'll mark 1/8" because my blade is 1/8" wide. If you make a line and cut on either side, you'll find your foot board half is a 1/8" too short. So, to counteract this, Mark a 1/16" on each side of your center line and cut down the center.
After that I mounted the footboard halves with two bolts on top and one on the bottom. The bolts will go through the back of the headboard and into the edge of the foot board. Since my foot board is not the same width from the top from bottom, I have to pay attention to where I bolt them. The pictures below show how I did this.
The next step is creating the seating area.
Next, I'll build the framework for the seat. I'm using 1"x4" pine (It's what I had laying around), although this is what I'd use anyway. Since the front of the bench legs are pointing out slightly, I'll get my width measurement from the back where the legs are attached to the headboard.
I can't remember off hand what my measurement was but I'll cut two boards at this length. After stapling the first one one and into position, I'll set the other aside for right now and measure for my deep. Given these legs are a little curved on the ends I'll find a good place for my depth to end. If the legs were square or I was working with flat surfaces, placing this would be easier. For me, it's easy to imagine where this end and how it will look when done. For others, it may not be, so be afraid to hold up some pieces just to see how things will play.
Once I have decided on my depth, I'll take a measurement remembering to subtract 3/4" (width of my front board). After cutting those, I'll attach those making sure they are square to my back board and level to my legs. Next is installing the front board, thus creating a box. I'm still not done, I plan on putting a thin piece of plywood over this but I need something to support that or things may sag over time. So, I'll create some slats that I'll mount at 1/3 and 2/3 my width.
When completed you should end up 3 boxes, everything level and true.
Time to add the finish layer to the bench seat. Normally, I would do this after painting but since this bench has ornate curves, that is difficult to do. Each board has been cut to fit. Otherwise, I would paint then stain the seat are and attach it after the fact.
I had some #2 red oak left over from a job from years ago. I always thought oak flooring on a bench or chair would be nice. Well, here was my chance.
First, I needed to do the outside edge and since I didn't have any bullnose, so I had to use the router to make a nice edge. I did an overhang of 2" because I wanted a nice piece underneath that outside piece. After getting those on, from there it's as simple as adding board after until covered. If you give this a try, Make sure the tongue is well in the groove. You'll notice that before installing the last piece, I took some clamps and squeeze the boards together to close any remaining gaps.
While clamped I nailed it into place. I didn't use any glue on the bottom or in the groove but you can if you like. Just make sure you still nail/staple everything into place before removing the clamps. After that, I ripped my last piece and cut it to length. I also ripped the tongue off just to make placement a little easier. If you can leave the tongue on, do that. The final stage here was to add a border around the back. I used the same #2 red oak. This is optional but in my case, it gave the seat area a nice finished look.