The next Guild project will begin approximately mid-November, and it will be something very different than we’re used to. If you recall, one of the most substantial changes to the Guild structure recently opened the door to various types of video series, including traditional Guild Builds, Limited Tools Projects, and Advanced Projects. The Dogon Platform Bed falls firmly into the Advanced category. You can see a very basic SketchUp representation of what this project will look like. It will feature bubinga as the primary wood with a frame and panel headboard made of African Blackwood, assuming we can find enough of it.

Why Advanced?

You might be surprised to know that “Advanced” doesn’t necessarily mean “more difficult.” I will be presenting this project with the expectation that you already know some woodworking basics. We won’t spend nearly as much time on basic joinery, milling procedures, and tooling alternatives. Instead, we’ll focus strongly on things like design, board selection, grain matching, advanced joinery options, efficiency, and client management (when appropriate). For instance, this bed project will be presented to you BEFORE the final design is decided upon. I’ll provide you with my initial sketches and notes with the intention of taking you on the journey from concept to final piece. So unlike a Guild Build where you are given the final plan on day 1, the Advanced series will start with a concept and eventually build up to a final plan. This will be an incredible learning experience for beginners and experienced woodworkers alike.


This bed is being made for a special client of mine. We discussed his inspiration for the piece and it all comes from his appreciation for the Dogon people of Africa. I honestly don’t know the full story just yet but I will get back to you with any relevant details on how this particular ethnic group relates to the bed, and the rest of the bedroom furniture I plan on building for this client.

I am really looking forward to this project and I hope you enjoy it too!

Comments 33

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adambaum November 9, 2012 3:23 pm

Marc….I think you need to rethink your base assumption on weight. 380lb (mattress plus 2 people) is probably short by at least 50lbs. I weigh 220 (on a good day). My wife has to be at least 135lbs. A queen mattress can weigh in at over 50lbs depending on configuration..Kings are more. Yes, I am overweight, but I hear the avg American male is about 180lbs, female about 130lbs – both of which are getting bigger. Add in a dog or two on the bed and you are over 380 (with mattress).

    Marc November 9, 2012 3:51 pm

    Don’t forget. I actually know the people who are going to sleep in this bed. So those numbers are a fair approximation for the people who will actually sleep in it. Even still, the point I was trying to make was that according to the online calculator, we are nowhere near the point where we’d have serious sag issues, even if this bed were to hold a couple of “average” Americans. 🙂

avillalo November 8, 2012 11:20 am

Hi Marc,

I’m thinking about the “stretchers”… They would be “tenoned” into the rails (sorry for my lack of vocabulary, i hope it’s understandable).

If those are made of hardwood (heavy wood), how do you plan to avoid flexion? Could they support a person standing up just in the middle?

Perhaps adding a board (like a beam) all over the stretcher’s bottom making an “L” shape stretcher could add some resistance, by creating two extra sets of tenons and also fully supporting the top piece.


    Marc November 8, 2012 11:29 am

    I did some initial calculations using the sagulator tool and I really think the wood is going to be strong enough for this task. Just pluggin in some ballpark numbers, a 380 lb (mattress plus 2 people) load distributed along an 80″ x 6″ x 2″ rail would cause a sag of about 1/8″. And that calculation assumes all the weight is going to be on one single rail. In reality, that weight will be distributed along three rails. So as it stands, I’m pretty confident in the bed’s ability to be self-supporting with little to no sag.

wm_crash November 6, 2012 11:13 am

I basically joined the guild because I want to see how you surface bubinga. I’ve been having some challenges with it. One trick I saw at the lumber yard today was to spray some water on the problematic areas before passing a board through a planer. At least in theory, that should prevent chipping and lessen tearout in problematic stock.

wm_crash, the friendly hooligan

    spokeshave November 20, 2012 1:50 pm

    wouldn’t that rust those blades.

Beginner Blue November 5, 2012 3:02 am

I am excited about the new project. The idea fits in perfectly with the platform bed my lovely wife has been demanding for 11 months, once again you have provided an excuse for me to make something that’s gonna cross something off of my mile long Honey Do list. Thank you

scott_n October 28, 2012 7:41 pm

Wow from the link you posted of the Dogon people, it looks like they cant afford to use any wood to build their homes let alone a bed of exotic wood that might be endangered.

    Marc October 31, 2012 7:18 am

    Debbie Downer, lol.

mikejpt October 28, 2012 6:15 am

Can’t wait. My daughter has been after me to build a bed. We probably won’t go for the Dogon style but the beauty of the Guild is I can take your techniques and go from there. I did this with the chest of drawer build and continue those techniques with other case builds. Thanks

EoinC October 25, 2012 6:09 am

This MUST be providence. My sister has just asked me to make a bed for her. My nephew is moving from the cot to “A Big Boy’s Bed”

Here’s hoping I can work with your design & modify to suit my/her budget.
She told me she’d like to have it by christmas time, so I’ll have to put the pedal to the metal.

Gordon October 24, 2012 10:09 pm

Any thoughts yet on what the A La Carte pricing will be for this project, Marc?

    Marc October 25, 2012 6:30 am

    Excellent question! And I have no idea, lol. I will have more info on pricing within a week or two.

GaryO October 24, 2012 7:24 pm

One of the great things about the Guild is having the projects first off, but beyond that each individual can take it and put their own tweaks and changes to it along the way and input their own personality in the final product.

jjcaseyx October 24, 2012 6:13 pm

Great response Marc!!

jjcaseyx October 24, 2012 5:26 pm

This looks like a very exciting project… And beautiful wood selection .. Any idea in material costs Marc or is to early to say

    Marc October 24, 2012 5:46 pm

    I will most likely pick up some material early next week. A little early to say where we are going to end up. My guess is somewhere north of ridiculous. 🙂

Lone_Wolf October 24, 2012 12:52 pm

I am really looking forward to the design process and the grain matching. I hope to build my skill in taking an ordinary project to the next level. This will be a great test run for the new shop.

woodjoee October 24, 2012 9:23 am

Will there be different sketch up plans for different bed sizes? The size of our mattress is about 1.8m x 2.0m (approx 5.9 feet x 6.6 feet). I’m not sure but there might be different sizes in the us?
Anyways I’m looking forward to this project!
Johannes from Germany

    Marc October 24, 2012 9:43 am

    The primary SketchUp plan will show the exact bed I’m building. But the great thing about SketchUp is it’s very easy to modify. So we can certainly play with alternative sizing options.

dansguild79 October 24, 2012 8:38 am

I’m looking forward to the lumber selection, and grain matching topics. A lot of publications completely skip over these topics, or only pay them lip service. I’ve come to think of it as an art unto itself.

juzzza1 October 24, 2012 7:58 am

This will be the first project I will get to see live… Can’t wait

GaryO October 23, 2012 7:42 pm

This one is going to come at a perfect time for me. I was already looking at different designs to do for our master so I’m ready.

    Marc October 23, 2012 9:22 pm

    This design is going to be very specific for the client. But I think we should discuss, as a group, various other options in terms of similar bed structures. If you have any idea or suggestions, just email me and we can bring them up in our live meetings.

    alacran November 14, 2012 5:49 am

    For those like myself who like to read in bed, the large hole in the headboard may make that a challenge. I like the idea of a group discussion on options to the design elements that we might add on our own, and use this as a starting point for individuals to add their own elements that they find useful or aesthetically more appropriate.

vich October 23, 2012 5:59 pm

I ‘m looking forward to the design process. I got into woodworking, not for the love of woodworking, but design. I’m very excited to watch your process.

jojavis October 23, 2012 5:20 pm

Looking forward to it

bowis October 23, 2012 4:51 pm

I think the design side is way too often neglected in many woodworking pubs and web sites, so I’m really looking forward to this process. It’s one thing to just follow someone else’s plan step by step, but when building for a customer that really won’t work. This is also going to be a really BIG piece – perfect for taking the new shop on its maiden voyage!

    Marc October 23, 2012 5:56 pm

    So true. One thing I already noticed from a few comments on Facebook is that folks might get a little frustrated at times. People have really good suggestions, but ultimately the client is King. So regardless of how good a suggestion is, if it doesn’t fit within the client’s specs, it can’t even be considered. Usually when I do a project here, I try to incorporate suggestions from the community. Definitely going to be a change of pace.

    kozeltof October 25, 2012 5:30 pm

    It sucks when the customer is King and you are trying to build a portfolio. When I was doing web design, I had projects that I would try to steer the customer in a more aesthetically pleasing direction. I ended up with some sites that I did not want to claim as my own…Gotta keep the customer happy though.

jmossoney October 23, 2012 4:45 pm

If you are traditional guild member are we going to be a part of the build. Or because it is a advanced project do you have to be a super member?

    Marc October 23, 2012 5:57 pm

    Active yearly members, whether Standard or Superfan, will have access to this project. A La Carte members have the option to buy in if they want to. I just looked at your account and you are good to go. Any projects that begin while your yearly membership is active, will automatically be accessible to you.

Chip October 23, 2012 12:41 pm

I’ve always enjoyed the projects where you shared the design process. Too often things are presented as fixed conclusions. It’s good to show that there are choices, alternatives, and mistakes leading up to those final Sketchup models. I’m looking forward to this one!