I managed to finish my son’s bed a couple of months ago. There are many woodworkers who advocate making a model or a preliminary piece out of inferior material prior to actually making a piece of furniture. Most of the time I don’t have the finances or time to do a mockup, but in this case I wish I would have. Overall the bed is fine and fully functional for a three-year-old (and hopefully a teenager one day) but there were certainly things I would do differently if I ever make another one.
First of all I would change the design of the stairs. I made them as a separate piece that could be removed completely in the future when Wyatt gets big enough to not want or need them anymore. The problem is that you can see the bottom of the stair case under the footboard. I hate it. And it wastes some useful space. In addition to the eyesore at the bottom of the footboard, when I reassembled the angled side of the stair case something shifted and the front post appears out of parallel with the post on the footboard. I’ve checked it and it is actually in the same plane but it looks wrong to my eye. That kind of thing drives me crazy.
The second thing I would change would be how close the rails are to the springs. When I bought the springs all the model beds had the rails attached to the springs. In a design that doesn’t have rails above the level of the mattress this is fine. But for full sides it makes fitting sheets and blankets a real pain in the neck.
Another thing I would do differently is purchase the mattress before starting the assembly. I took measurements off of my oldest son’s bed (which I also built) and assumed that the mattress would be about the same size. It turns out that new mattresses are considerably thicker. I had to make several trips and shell out another $70 (restocking/cleaning fee) to get a mattress that would work.
The last thing I would do differently is spray the paint on. I have the means to do so but my current shop (aka the garage) houses the furnace and water heater—both sources of open flame. I’m not happy with the brushed latex and think the bed would look much better with a smoother finish.
The good news is that it is finished. Wyatt loves it. My wife is happy with it. And I saved us about $2000 by making it myself. All of that adds up to a pretty good life.