I know that "to make a bed" means "to prepare, arrange the bed sheets for sleeping in the bed". But what about "constructing" and "assembling" a bed, say, by a carpenter? Is it alright to say "I work as a carpenter. I make beds and tables" or should I use another phrase/verb?

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    If you say I make beds and tables it should be fairly clear. But were you to say I make beds for a living you could just as easily be taken for a chambermaid as a carpenter. – WS2 Nov 20 '15 at 21:29
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    Simply switching tables and beds would remove some of the ambiguity..."I make tables and beds and other furniture." You can also change the verb to "build", "construct", etc. – Kristina Lopez Nov 20 '15 at 22:14
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    @Kristina Lopez -- Right, although I'd think it would be more graceful to use the serial comma in that case -- "tables, beds, and other furniture..." – Languagemaven Nov 20 '15 at 22:33
  • Absent any contextual clues to the contrary, any US English speaker would interpret "make a bed" to mean fix up the sheets, pillows, and blankets neatly on the bed. Any other use of "make" (for tables, automobiles, chewing gum, etc) would imply participating in the manufacture of said item. And "construct" does not carry the same special-case connotation for beds as does "make". "Assemble" would be a hair more ambiguous in the case of beds -- it could be taken either way. – Hot Licks Nov 21 '15 at 1:14

Make a bed is indeed ambiguous. But arranging the linen is a so much more common activity, within nearly everybody's daily concerns even if they don't do it themselves, that unless there is some specific context pushing it, the other meaning hardly occurs to us.

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