Introduction: A Soft Industrial Pipe Bed Frame

Pipe bed frames are economical, modular designer DIY bed frames. Here I describe a mechanically robust yet elegant design which uses 3/4" black pipe nipple, plus wood slats. The design here fits a queen size 6'6" mattress and a 6'1/2" gent who can easily mount the bed without descending or climbing during the approach, but the dimensions of the components can easily be tweaked to your specifications.

Step 1: Components

Pipes (all 3/4" black pipe nipple):

2 of 6'8" custom cut and threaded 3/4" pipes for the length of the bed
4 floor flanges for legs
4 of 12" pipes for legs
2 of 4" pipes for footer
2 elbows for footer
1 of 60" pipe for footer
2 of 7" pipes for header
2 reverse thread joiner   unions
2 three-way joints for the header
2 of 8" pipes for header
2 straight unions (to provide a small ledge for the header board)
2 of 18" pipes for header
1 of 60" pipe for header

Wood:
1 5' 6" header board of your choice
11 of 11" wide (nominally 12" ) 5' 6" wooden slats
half-circle pipe fittings (pictured) for fixing the pipe to the header board/bed slats, with #8 x1/2" phillips flathead screw 

Step 2: Headboard

Pipe bed frames can easily be assembled from the component list and pictures shown, but take caution to screw each pipe in as tightly as possible using a pipe wrench. Insufficiently tight pipes will break under load since the pipe tappers at the threads.

A key component in the assembly are the pipe joiner components you can use to bring two pipes together using reverse threads (pictured), which avoids unscrewing one pipe while attempting to screw in the other side. Even so, screwing the header on does not constrain the geometry too much. Therefore, I pushed the header side up against a wall before fixing the slats in place, which makes the geometry rigid.

Step 3: Wooden Slats, Weight Distribution and Treatment

An important consideration in the design of the bed frame is the weight distribution. High-end mattresses distribute the weight well. But if you don't want to take chances, I recommend putting a 2 x 4 up the middle underneath the slats, held using wood screws, to distribute the weight among its neighbors.

Mold can grow on untreated wood left near an open window in San Francisco. To prevent this, I stained all the slats and the 2x4. Stain doesn't prevent mold per se, but it helps, as does wiping it down with bleach once a year, or treating with polypropylene (although I don't like the glossy finish of polypropylene as much).

That's it! With the exception of the 6"8" custom pipes that can be cut and purchased at a plumbing store, the remaining components are standard ware at local hardware stores. As you can see from the description of the assembly, it can be assembled in a couple hours (minus staining of wood), easily disassembled for a move, or modified to suit your changing needs. Ciao!

Comments

author
LandreaL (author)2016-03-16

I have a couple question:
1st : What would happen if i used black iron versus galvanized steel? Like would I have to clean the black iron and seal it to prevent rust?
2nd: what would happen if I used 1/2 inch diameter pipes versue 3/4 inch? Would it be weaker?

author
SarahJ114 (author)LandreaL2016-08-19

Did you ever try the 1/2 in diameter pipes? If so, did it work out?

author
lowdive (author)2016-03-15

Would anyone be able to give guidelines for how to convert these measurements for a full size bed?

author
taysan (author)2014-03-28

Just as an FYI to anyone planning on working with this sort of pipe - it has a black coating on it which comes off on your hands and anything else it touches. I built a media bench and small coffee table with this piping and bowling lane and washed each piece of pipe and fitting with soap and water before working with it. Just so you know what you're getting into. You can get this pipe (its usually used for natural gas) in galvanized steel finish as well which I believe is 'dry', but it's silver in color. Anyhow - go to your hardware store with a paper towel and wipe a piece of the pipe to see what I mean before diving in head-first.

author
lbaron (author)taysan2016-02-02

I got mine at HD. It's coated in the black stuff, like you said. The guy at the store suggested using vinegar and/or Dawn to remove it. I got frustrated with the amount of work his solution required, and discovered that Goof Off takes that stuff off like magic.

Also, it'll rust like whoa, so I covered it with a clear coat of spray paint. I did let it rust a little first, though, because it looks cool.

author
Kreegs (author)2014-03-23

For Queen and King beds, I would put a T coupling about half way down
each of the long sides with another leg, even if it is the 3/4" cast
iron pipes. I'd also recommend a pipe down the middle-ish (near the
extra feet) that runs crosswise with a foot in the middle of that. That
will give you all the support you need to for the big matteress,
especially if your a bigger person or are really active in bed...

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author
PrestonT4 made it! (author)Kreegs2015-10-08

Hey Kreegs! I think I made pretty much what you described. I'm on wood slats, what would you guys do for it? It seems super solid and I'm excited to finish the wood!

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author
AaronL3 (author)PrestonT42015-10-15

Hi, Preston. How did this work out for you after adding the slats? I'm about to try this and I like that you added extra pipe for extra bracing. Do you have a higher quality version of your drawing that you could share? It's difficult to read the measurements. Thanks.

author
PrestonT4 (author)AaronL32015-11-03

Here's a full write-up of my build! Check out the wooden slats part. Sadly I lost the drawing since then.

http://imgur.com/a/9uUoH

author
AaronL3 (author)PrestonT42015-11-03

Nice write-up and pics, PrestonT4.

author
willparks (author)Kreegs2014-03-23

Thanks, Kreegs, for the good idea. You're absolutely right - the current design put a lot of stress on the pipe fittings since the center can experience relatively large displacements, on the order of half an inch, and then act like a 3 foot long lever-arm torquing the threads at each end, which is where it will likely break.

An alternative that's slightly more aesthetically pleasing would be to put a frame of two-by-fours underneath the slats to distribute the weight and any displacements in the z-axis horizontally throughout the slats and minimize the displacements in the center. The frame should be made with the two-by-fours oriented such that the nominally 2 inch side is making contact with the slats.

author
PrestonT4 made it! (author)2015-11-03

Finished my build!

http://imgur.com/a/9uUoH

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author
servandopena made it! (author)2015-08-20

Thanks for posting this! The great pictures and buy list really helped me decide to do this. I ran into some headaches with the wood slats. I could not figure how to get 11' x 5'6" wood slats without excessive cutting and Home Depot was not much help either (although they were quite awesome with helping me with the pipe). I was also more than a little concerned about weight and recreational activities, so I played it safe and replaced the wood slats with a metal platform mattress foundation i picked up online. The foundation fit perfectly within the pipe frame structure, and I think matches the industrial look quite nicely. I'm still considering whether I want to add the 5'6" header board, or do do something different in that space. I'm also considering weaving something in that space, maybe with paracord, or hanging something from the top rail. What do y'all think?

bed.jpg
author
rws150 (author)2015-02-18

Legitimate question: How squeaky and creaky is this frame when you're doing a bit more than just sleeping on it? I love the asthetics but I'm not looking to wake the house.

author
T sexy (author)2014-06-14

I want to try this with a king. I'm adding the extra bar for the middle. This is the first one I came across that doesn't have those expensive Kee Klamps. I have one question. What is a reverse thread joiner union ? I have looked everywhere and I can't find it. Other than that this is fantasic !!

author
sconner1 (author)2014-03-31

One could use teak oil or wax finishes to prevent mold.

author
thiruchendur77 (author)2014-03-29

In Center they need one more set legs because it's possible to bend the piepe.

But very niece idea cong.

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author
RichardBronosky (author)2014-03-28

The whole thing just seems like it would be rickety. Especially having only a single cross member along the top of the headboard. All the concern has been about the Z-axis. Does this thing flex in the X & Y from lateral motions?

author
Dr_Stupid (author)2014-03-28

Looks like a good start, however I would have a couple of cross pieces (by thirds), and then a down-T with an additional floor contact for added stability.

author
Jsm60 (author)2014-03-28

Cool idea. I want to make a similar but smaller version but make it as a 'hammock' instead for my dogs to use outdoors. Thanks for sharing!

author
Cabbages and Kings (author)2014-03-28

Anyone know which shops sell this stuff in the UK?

author
chuckyd (author)2014-03-27

I'm not too sure about this. You need more than the friction from the pipe hangers to hold the slats in place. Also, you need something to prevent the box springs from sliding sideways off the frame. Finally, I doubt the pipe will last long before it fails. I think you could steam punk it up some and make it more stable at the same time. Aren't shakes common in SF?

author
vcsekhar (author)2014-03-23

What's the over all cost of this project and where can the pipes and fittings used in this project be purchased ?

Thanks in advance

author
slvrrbt (author)vcsekhar2014-03-25

Curious also what the over all cost was when you finished for your bed.

author
paolochiarlone (author)slvrrbt2014-03-27

Me too... Any idea on cost?
Thanks!

author
mjrsting (author)vcsekhar2014-03-27

vcsekhar:

The black pipe can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowe's, Menards, or any home improvement store. Costs for a 3/4" x 3' piece at Home Depot is $10.78 (online), 5' is $14.99, 6' is $15.97, 10' is $13.27 (different mfg.). The store will cut them to length and pipe thread them for free.

author
Quester55 (author)2014-03-27

What a wonderful Idea, Thank-you for sharing.

I've wanted to do this myself, just couldn't see where to start, your plans will help greatly.

Thanks again.

author
alanemartin (author)2014-03-27

Neat idea. Darker choices on the stain help against mold.

Btw, the wood finish is polyurethane. Ploypropylene is a plastic used for chairs, etc.

author
Pat_Maroney (author)2014-03-26

This is awesome! However, I'm curious how well it stands up to the "earthquake test".

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