Introduction: 2 X 8 Bed

Picture of 2 X 8 Bed

The intent of this bed project was to make a bed frame with basic tools as quickly and cheaply as possible.  Secondarily, I wanted to be able to break it down so it would be easy to move.  I have moved a lot over the last couple of years, and have always dealt with a mattress on the floor or on a boxspring on the floor.  It was time for a proper resting place that got me off the dirty floor without costing me a fortune.

This bed cost me about $22.  The only thing I bought new was the 2" x 8"s.  I got all the slats (the crosspieces that support the mattress), the bolts, the pegs that hold the headboard together, and the mattress for free.  Scrounge on!  

If you add fasteners to the mix, expect to spend another fifteen bucks or so.

You will need these tools:

Impact driver (or make do with your drill)
Ratchet and socket set
Circular saw
Drill bits
Speed square
Tape measure

You will need these materials:

5 2" x 8" x 8' yellow pine boards, straight as possible
5 2" x 6" x 8' yellow pine boards, salvage preferable
8 1/2" x 4" galvanized lag bolts
32 1/4" x 4" galvanized lag bolts
Wood glue
1 1/2" x 3' dowel


Step 1: Framin'

Picture of Framin'

The first step is the easiest:  cut two of the 2" x 8"s to 75" and two of them to 57".  These directions are for a regular double bed.  I made the frame to be bigger than the mattress by one inch all the way around.  For a full rundown of common mattress sizes, see the Wikipedia page here:

So, the long sides are one inch longer than the mattress, and the short sides are four inches longer than the mattress, to accommodate both one inch of play on the mattress and one and a half inches on either side to overlap and create the joint with the long sides.

To reinforce the corners and create a spot for the legs to attach, I put a brace in each corner that was made from one of the leftover scraps of 2" x 8".  Just cut the biggest right triangle you can out of the material.  Make four of those.

Lay out the box on a level surface.

Step 2: Runners and Slats

Picture of Runners and Slats

Using the T-bar guide on the circular saw, cut some 1-1/2" wide strips out of a piece leftover from making the frame.  The T-bar fits through a slot near the front of the side and allows you to set it to a certain width.  Run the saw while keeping the flat face of the T-bar against the factory edge of the wood and you end up with a nice straight rip cut.

Screw and glue these to the bottom inside of the long sides of the frame to create the runners that the slats will rest on.  Use drywall screws that won't poke through to the outside -- 2-1/2" long ones are perfect.  Make sure these are secure -- they take most of the weight of the mattress and its occupants.

Cut your slats to fit nice and tight inside.  I used salvaged rafter tails from an old shed.  Doesn't matter if that wood looks crummy or is a little warped or whatever, as long as it is strong.  You could use thinner pieces, like 2" x 4"s, but I'd be cautious.  They will probably sag over time, spanning four feet unsupported.  Put a lot more in, and make sure they bow upwards.

Step 3: Legs!

Picture of Legs!

The legs on this bed are really simple.  They may not be the most elegant, but they look nice enough and get the job done.  

Cut eight right triangles out of your scrap wood -- mine were the width of a 2" x 8" on their two equal sides.  On four of them, measure 3/4" in from one side and space two holes how you want.  Flush two triangles up to one another.  Drill 1/8" pilot holes, then a 1/2" countersink for the lag bolt.  Glue and screw the feet together.

Once the foot is made, hang it off a right-angled surface, like a milk crate, and cut off the point so it sits nice and flat on the ground.

Screw and glue the feet to the corner braces with 3" drywall screws.

Step 4: All Together Now

Picture of All Together Now

Lay the pieces out in a rectangle with their feet.  Mark each end of each board and each foot with a letter or number so you know which three belong together in each corner.  Mark out and drill three 1/8" pilot holes and 1/2" countersinks in each end of each frame board, 3/4" up from the bottom edge, to go into the corner braces.

Attach two corner braces/feet to each long side with three 1/4" lag bolts.  I popped  a little drywall screw in each brace just to hold it while I got the other three into place.  Stand up the short ends of the bed and get them attached to one side.  Roll the frame down so the feet are sticking up in the air and attach the last side.

Pilot hole and countersink two 1/2" lag bolts through the ends of the two short sides and into the end grain of the long sides.  Remember, the countersink hole needs to be bigger than the diameter of the socket that turns the bolt head, not the bolt head.  Ratchet in the lags.  As you can see in the one picture, you can screw a temporary block into the backside of the frame to have something to clamp against to pull this sides into line.

Step 5: Headboard

Picture of Headboard

The head board is the last step.  Mark out and drill five or six holes in the head end of the bed frame (typically the end that looks the worst, as it will usually be against the wall) and drill about three or four inches down into edge with a 1/2" bit.  Hammer and glue in some pegs made from the dowel, 6-8" long.  

Hold your headboard up to the pegs and scribe lines across so they align, drill, and hammer and glue it down.  Obviously, I miscalculated the thickness of the mattress a little bit and the headboard doesn't stick up much.  Doesn't matter if you have your bed against a wall.  If you want a bigger headboard, just lengthen your pegs and slap a 2" x 10" or 12" on there, or two 2" x 8"s.

Pop the mattress in and enjoy!


ajb746 made it! (author)2015-01-31

I built this bed in about three weeks(I spent only a little bit of time per day). It turned out very nice. Here in the pacific northwest all you can find is douglas fir, so I built my bed from that. It worked fine, but there was some splitting when the 1/2" lag bolts were screwed directly into the end grain of the long frame pieces. I also made these improvements:

- 4"x4"x1' posts for legs(attached to corner braces with bolts and brackets)

- Sanded all over with an orbital sander

- 1 coat of lacquer(I let the bed dry and air out on my back porch, the smell is completely gone)

- No headboard(my drill couldn't hold a large enough drill bit for the dowels)

My friends at school were very impressed (:

RickyR12 made it! (author)ajb7462015-10-21

i think your drill could handle these

wholman (author)ajb7462015-02-01

Turned out great! I think the Douglas Fir is very handsome. I used that design for three years until upgrading to this storage option:

One tip I found, over time, is that the more slats the better. I kind of skimped because I was trying to save money, but another board or three helps with the back support.

RickyR12 made it! (author)2015-10-21

Its important to mention that you NEED several 2 -1/2 inch drywall screws. a chalk box, and It would have been great if the size of the drill bits required, and what size sockets you need for this build were listed in the very beginning. Theres no mention. of it.

fathertime (author)2014-11-09

Very nice build. I built pretty much the same frame years back without the legs. Very well done and see a lot of nice improvements over the design I had. Well done.

markofinsanity (author)2013-09-22

My son and I just completed his California King based on this Instructable -- thanks! We made some modifications, of course. And it took longer and cost a bit more ($150 all-in) than I estimated, but it turned out fantastic. I've attached some images showing various stages

The main differences are:
a) the size
b) use of 8 2x6 slats (and we might add 2-4 more)
c) 4x6x20 posts for legs (it's *really* high off the ground, we may cut them down a few inches)
d) 2 L brackets on each leg to augment the 4 lag screws
e) a single coat of stain to make the pine look slightly different
f) no headboard

Having a 3/4" socket wrench for the large lag bolts, and a 1/2" socket bit for the small lag bolts, was really helpful. I used a 5/8" spade bit to make the recesses for the small lag bots, and a 1" spade bit for the recesses for the large lag bolts.

We had to carry the frame upstairs and do the leg and slat installation in the bedroom. It would be *really* unwieldy to have had the legs mounted while maneuvering it through the house, esp. up the stairs.

BTW, I don't think a center leg is required given all the slats.

Hope people find this useful, and thanks again to wholman for starting it off!

oddg241 (author)2012-12-24

The lag bolts are 1/4in x 4in. that would convert to 6.35 mm x 101.60mm

Pistantrophobia (author)2012-12-17

Hi, I'm from Spain, and I have got a problem with the lag bolts, in concrete is the measure, I guess that the measure in your materials are in inches, my question is this: Can you or someone else tell me what measurements have in milimetres the lag bolts?
I've looked in internet with a conversor of longitude, as I gave the converter was 25mm, so here it is 2.5cm

ProRock (author)2012-06-05

How tall is it from the bottom of the frame to the floor? Do the legs pick it up that far off the ground?

I was thinking about using 4x4"s instead for legs or maybe 2x10"s to provide a few more inches under the bed.

grannydee (author)ProRock2012-07-26

you could easily make the legs longer if wanted or ad the 4 X 4's i see different ways to go with this bed.

SweetMissEmmaLee (author)2011-12-08

Mine ROCKS! Only thing I did differently is not use the 1/2" x 4" bolts, those things are huge! So I just used the 1/4"s. I love the natural bolt and wood look was really cool, but it wasn't in my design scheme. So, I ended up really globbing on a black walnut color stain, over the bolts and all.

I am not done with my own headboard, but when I do - I'll get a picture up.

Thank you soooo much for this, super fun and my introduction to using lag bolts has opened up a whole new world!

ericchastain (author)2011-01-05

I liked this so much I made a slightly modified version. I used 2x12s instead of 2x8s and left off the headboard. I also made the legs a little longer to accomodate more dust bunnies. Thanks for the inspiration.

wholman (author)ericchastain2011-01-05

hey man, looks awesome! thanks for letting me know . . . so rare to find someone who actually did one of my instructables . . . hope its nice and comfortable.

nocode54 (author)wholman2011-03-05

Very nicely done. I really like the design's ability to be adapted. Really inspiring for me. I was going to design my own but this one is already laid out so well. Good clear photos too!

pheenix42 (author)2010-11-26

Wish I could make this out of some cedar'd be gorgeous to look at!

aadball504 (author)2010-11-11

To cover those lag bolt heads copper pipe caps work nice and give a finished look but can be tough to get out if want to break the bed or other piece of furniture down.

symonspa (author)2010-11-02

That wood you used for the slats looks pressure treated, you know you cant use pt inside it off-gasses some nasty chemicals.

heem2002 (author)2010-10-13

Excellent project, thank you!<<<<

rangeside (author)2010-09-03

I've been experimenting building upholstered headboards for the last year or so. This project seems like a really good build to compliment that hobby. Really nice Instructable!

vivian2112 (author)rangeside2010-10-11

If you finish that project, I for one would love to see the results and the steps posted here :)

funbob (author)2010-09-09

Like the instructable some good guidance. not done much woodwork before am i reading this right, 2" thick timber? I'm in the uk and it doesnt seem to be standard thickness here can any make any suggestions/correction to my thoughts!. thanks :)

Phil B (author)funbob2010-10-06

In the USA we call it a 2 x 4, etc.; but a 2 x 4 is actually 1 5/8 x 3 1/2. The 2 x 4 refers to dimensions when it was rough cut and before finish planing. I was in Germany at a home center. They had lumber dimensioned in metric. I do not remember the exact size, but there was something close to what I would call a 2 x 4.

scraptopower (author)funbob2010-09-22

Jewsons will sell it, I bought some from there a while back.

MsJaxFla (author)2010-09-07

I was hoping you would design a queen size with maybe no legs, but with two or one storage drawers on each side? I love the small headboard feature, that is exactly what I want, but if I am going to make a headboard, why not the frame as well..... also, I am a girl, not that smart and no money, but I am determinded to build what I want to have. Please do some more designing? You seem to be so great at it.

velcro2 (author)2010-09-04

Wholman: I like your project; very creative and very well illustrated. However, I have a few comments: The header and the head frame member should have been pre-assembled so that they might be sanded and smoothed evenly. The outside corners should be rounded to avoid a blunt edge when making the bed. Judging from the rough cuts in the photos, looks like you could use a sharper saw blade. The side rails need to have radius-ed edges and smoothed to make it easier and "friendlier" to make the bed. Sheets will snag on any rough edge as you already know. In step 3 you mentioned a 3 inch sheet rock screw. They don't come in those lengths but I would recommend a 3 inch Deck Screw and pre-drill all screw holes. The lag screws have hex heads so you want to "counter bore" and not counter sink the holes. I also would opt to make the legs taller since the bed is too close to the floor. When you sit on a mattress, your feet should just barely touch the floor. Bongodrummer has a very good point. Most modern mattresses have those coil springs in them so you would want to lay 1/4 inch "perf board" over the slats to distribute the weight evenly. All screws should be round head and smooth with no burrs to snag the material. The counter bored lag screw holes should be covered with those plastic button caps that are available at the local hardware store. I give your project an A- for creativity, planning, assembly and documenting. The only drawback is that its a little "rough" and needs to be more "user friendly". Thanks for a great project.

wholman (author)velcro22010-09-06

Thanks for the comments -- feel like I need to address a few points, though. For one thing, a couple people have mentioned rounding over the edges of the wood on the bed frame. I guess the photos don't really show it that well, but all dimensional lumber you buy at the store has a roundover already. The side rail are smooth and snag-free with a 1/4" radius, no extra work required.

As to the height of the bed, that's all on purpose. I don't like those tall beds that always make me feel like I'm about to roll off. Guess that comes from so many years of sleeping on the floor.

They do make three inch, coarse-thread, phillips-head, standard black ssheetrock screws, got them from the Ace down the street. Maybe I forgot to mention, but I pre-drilled everything of course.

I don't want to cover the nice galvanized hex bolts with some ugly plastic button -- let the material be, it's beautiful as is.

Thanks for the comments, helps make everyone's projects better.

Mr. Rig It (author)2010-09-05

Nice build!

dewexdewex (author)2010-09-04

Cool frame. Looks like one I made. Personally, I'd say it needed more mattress supports. I used rolled up wooden slat ones from Ikea; they're cheap and springy.

porcupinemamma (author)2010-09-04

looks cool. would the bed sheets have to be custom made?

doctoral (author)2010-09-03

This is my favorite type project.I was thinking of a frame built around short 4x4's as legs that way caster wheels can be attach. A larger headboard with cubbie holes is also possible. Thanks

geogaby (author)2010-09-02

Excellent project, i will try it.

barneytomb (author)2010-09-02

Good project. I was looking for big boy bed for my Nephew. This looks like the ticket.

blckbuster (author)2010-09-02

nice, the feet don't seem like they would stand up to hard use though, why not use 12' lengths of post for the legs?

jasoncattnz (author)2010-09-02

I paid $350 for a similar base from my local bed shop last year. Its cheap fittings have resulted in loose and creaky bed. I'm inspired, wish I'd had this instructible then!

woodyardboy (author)2010-09-02

you should have a lie down after that :)

bazillite (author)2010-09-02

also you disign for the bes stacks nicly

Critifur (author)2010-09-02

Needs a picture of the drywall screws that secure the rail. Screw in from the inside of the rail toward the outer frame? Did you secure the triangular foot supports the same way?

wholman (author)Critifur2010-09-02

The triangular braces are held with 1/4" lag bolts, three to a side, that you can see on the pictures of the finished project. The drywall screw was just to pin the brace to the side of the bed frame temporarily to hold it so I could drill pilot holes and put in the lags. So, pop a little short drywall screw through one of the corners of the triangular corner brace into the backside of the bed frame to hold it in place while you do the lags.

Critifur (author)2010-09-02

Needs a picture of the drywall screws that secure the rail. Screw in from the inside of the rail toward the outer frame?

wholman (author)Critifur2010-09-02

Yeah, screw from the inside towards the outer frame so the screws don't show; use a 2-1/2" screw, which should give you plenty of grab but won't poke through.

Critifur (author)2010-09-02

Excellent project, thank you!

raul2210 (author)2010-09-02

very good written,awesome pictures and outstanding project thanks for sharing

Critifur (author)2010-09-02

I am going to make this, I had just been looking for a bed frame. I need to add a center support rail with some feet. I think I will replace the feet with metal ones from Ikea. I also wanted a platform bed, so if I had a sheet of peg board over the slats that should support just the mattress. I may also upholster the frame.

Grouchy1 (author)2010-09-02

If you have a router you can take this project to a whole 'nother level and reduce the risk of splinters by rounding the board edges with a 1/4" radius bit. After assembly, light sanding and a coat of flat or semigloss polyurethane will make it look very professional as well as further reducing the risk of splinters.

jrubio1973 (author)2010-09-02

i like it

Dilbertcrash (author)2010-09-02

I like proyect.

ShippingGuy (author)2010-09-02

I Like it.

bongodrummer (author)2010-08-31

Very nice looking bed! One thing that occurs to me, is that for the princesses amongst us more slats might be nice (I didn't see any peas, thank goodness). Seriously though, I was looking at our mattress guarantee the other day, because we had to have it returned because some of the springs had gone, and it stipulated that the warranty was only valid if the bed slats were spaced no more than about three inches apart. Looks like it would be easy to add more and it might be worth it in the long run... Great pictures, and lovely instructable.

seamster (author)2010-08-31

Very nice. That's a good, sturdy bed frame.

Nostalgic Guy (author)2010-08-31

Nice one, it's simple & does the job. Also you could adapt the design to your own needs very easily, making it higher to include underbed storage for example or even adding side tables or a foot locker without too much alteration.

About This Instructable




Bio: Furniture hacker. Author of Guerilla Furniture Design, out now. Find me on Twitter and Instagram @objectguerilla.
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