Introduction: Aluminum Pipe Bed

Picture of Aluminum Pipe Bed

This project serves as a guide for those who wish to build their own bed frame from pipe and modular fittings. The beginning sections are informational, regarding different approaches, preparation, and the resources required. The following sections are a reference for the do-it-yourselfer (DIY), and provides step-by-step directions.

My main motivation for doing this project was to build a modern queen-size canopy bed frame that was made from aluminum pipe and galvanized metal fittings and would accomodate a standard matress and box springs. Many years ago, I had seen a similar bed frame in magazine ads by a well-known fashion designer. Unfortunately, their version cost nearly $6,000!

We have been using this bed for about 7 years now. The pipe is comfortable to hold onto and very sturdy. :) We also think it's pretty stylish.

Step 1: Foreward and Preparation

While this project is pretty easy to assemble, the components are industrial in nature. Make sure your bedroom has enough ceiling clearance for the assembled canopy frame. You will also need a truck or large van to transport the longer lengths of pipe.

The only tool you really need is a standard 5/16" (7.94mm) A.F. hex key. This assumes that you let your pipe supplier cut the pipe to length for you and that you outsource the small amount of welding. Most people don't have welding kits that work with aluminum.

Note: This project isn't what most people would call cheap. Parts alone will cost around $800. Still a far cry from the nearly $6,000 designer version.

Step 2: Parts: Pipe Fittings

Picture of Parts: Pipe Fittings

I chose to use Kee Klamp galvanized metal fittings. They were readily available from Grainger. If I were to do it over again, I'd use the aluminum fittings which you can get through Simplified Building Concepts. They weren't available when I originally built this. The galvanized ones work ok, but aluminum would be a better match aesthetically, as well as save some weight.

||Grainger #||Kee #||Description||Qty||
||5A488||61-7||Flange, Base||4||
||5A476||20-7||Elbow, Side Outlet||4||
||5A470||10-7||Tee, Single Socket||14||
||5A478||21-7||Tee, Side Outlet||4||

Clamp total: 26

Step 3: Parts: Pipe

Picture of Parts: Pipe

I used 1.25 inch schedule 40 aluminum pipe.
||Length in Inches||Qty||
Length total 228", 19 pieces.

I'm allowing for 1" of pipe inserted into the fittings for the hex screw. When assembled, this fits a queen mattress and box spring snuggly.

In addition, I used two pieces of angle aluminum. They were 1.25" wide, and cut to 57.75".

I purchased my pipe and angle aluminum from a metal supply company. They cut the pipe to length for me. Note that this pipe is industrial material. So it has some blemishes. I rather like the industrial look of it.

NOTE: Pipe and tube are not the same thing. Tube is usually thin-walled. Schedule 40 pipe exceeds OSHA and BOCA standards, and is heavy-duty enough to be used for scaffolding.

Step 4: Welding Aluminum Angle Brackets

Picture of Welding Aluminum Angle Brackets

While I could have used more cross braces, to support the box springs, I wanted to give the bed a "floating" appearance. So I had aluminum angle brackets welded to the two lower pieces. This means only one center support pipe is needed.

Aluminum requires a special welding kit. I didn't have the equipment or skill, so I took the pipe and aluminum angle brackets to a professional. Most muffler shops should be able to do this for a small fee.

NOTE: The angle aluminum is only welded to one pipe at each end to help support the box spring. It isn't attached to the side pipe or fittings. You need the flat part of the angle to be even with the top of the pipe. It would look something like this when sit on the floor to be welded. _|O

Step 5: Clear Coating

I chose to clear coat all of the aluminum components (pipe and angle pieces). I used Prep-Sol to clean the surface before using Krylon Clear Coat from a spray can, and gave three applications. Nice clean finish, and keeps the industrial look of the aluminum. I did this to protect against aluminum oxidation (which leaves a powdery residue) and any possible reactions between the disimilar metals (aluminum pipe and galvanized steel fittings).

You may be able to skip this step if you use annodized aluminum, or have the components powder coated.

Step 6: Attach Fittings

Picture of Attach Fittings
Attach the fittings. Start at one end of each pipe and work to the other. The fittings attach via recessed set screws. A standard hex key is the only tool required. Measurements to the center of each fitting follow.

Each of the two tall (87" floor to ceiling) head board posts will have:
  • 3-way fitting at top
  • T fitting 42" from top
  • T fitting 59.5" from top
  • T fitting 20" from bottom
  • 90-degree angle fitting 10" from bottom
  • Foot at bottom

Each of the two tall (87" floor to ceiling) foot posts will have:
  • 3-way fitting at top
  • T fitting 26" from bottom
  • T fitting 20" from bottom
  • 90-degree angle fitting 10" from bottom
  • Foot at bottom

You should have two fittings left over that provide the center support brace.

Be sure to match the attached fittings on each pipe, to the sister fitting on the other side. You'll want to use the picture on the following step to orient each of the angle fittings in the right direction. Tighten each fitting just enough to keep it in place. This will allow you to make adjustments, if necessary, when connecting all the sides together.

Step 7: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

With the headboard and footboard connectors attached, you can assemble each end by connecting the respective post to its mirror version sister post using the 67" pipe.

Once headboard and footboard are assembled, stand them each up and you should be able to see how the six 79" pieces of pipe connect the two ends together.

NOTE: Don't forget to put a T fitting on the two bottom pieces to form the center support.

Step 8: Finished

Picture of Finished

Once everything is assembled, and you've confirmed that your mattress and box spring fit inside the frame, it's time to tighten everything up. Use your hex key to lock the pipe firmly in place. The makers of Kee Klamp recommend that you tighten the setscrew to 29 lbs./ft. or 39 Nm of torque. This is approximately "hand-tight."

You've created a strong, rigid bed frame that should be able to support a few thousand pounds! The finished frame should measure 67"W x 82"D x 90"H.

Step 9: Closing Remarks

I realize that there are other "pipe beds" out there for sale and DIY. This one is a little more detailed than the others I've seen. I originally built this many years ago. This site didn't even exist at the time, but thought I would share it anyway. It has worked great for us, and has weathered multiple moves with ease. It's the only canopy version that I've seen.

Feel free to post your questions, comments, and critisisms (constructive or otherwise). Please drop me a note if you decide to build your own pipe bed based on these directions.

If there is enough interest, I could probably provide a version that doesn't require any welding and/or a non-canopy design. Enjoy!

Step 10: Resources

A list of resources that might be helpful:


xarlock667 (author)2015-08-16

I honestly looked at this at first because of the bed itself, but then I found the KEES site and all their wonderful clampy things. Soon, I shall rule the world! On a side note, just put 3-4 cross beams across the bottom and you have no need for welded aluminum, OR 3 and a sheet of plywood or 2 or 3 depending on the frame size.

connorv2 (author)2015-01-31

Really like the design! My girlfriend and I are sailors, and moving in together in san francisco - thinking of making something of this nature, and like the modular, easily moveable design.

I want to make a platform for a full mattress with the possibility of adding a canopy. Seeing as we are students and have the finances (or lack thereof) to prove it, we want to save money (thinking 200-300 dollar range) and we were going to construct the bed out of old sailboat masts (usually extruded aluminum, but not always circular)

To hold up the mattress, I was thinking of using webbing/rope to create a sort of net for the mattress (no box spring) to rest on. I want to be able to take it apart and put it in the back of a car easily, and welding seems like it will be out of the question - wondering if lashing some of the joints would be possible...

brian941 (author)2014-07-21

Hi DenVogel,

Thanks - very cool project and good instructions. I'm thinking about building a simpler frame, without the canopy, like this one:

(image attached)

Given your experience with key klamps, do you expect I will have any issues with sway? I know the frame would be very strong, but I'm worried about it flexing if you push on it from the side, for example.


TattooedPirate1969 (author)2013-04-01
This bed is currently available pre-cut, Queen sized in the SF bay area. Look in the community forums,
stoneground1 (author)2012-12-29

I really like the industrial look to this!! Thanks for posting!!

oogiemama (author)2011-07-31

This looks great, we recently had to get rid of all of our beds (matress and box springs due to black mold) We have been hunting for just the right diy to build a new frame when we get replacement matresses and I believe this one will be it. We are going to try and build though with out welding needs. And suggestions would be greatly appriciated!

JStrider (author)2008-01-11

very cool bed! I'd love to make it, and I like the idea of putting extra bars across the top for more places to grab on to. The only downer is the price... thats definitely more then I'd want to spend... Time to head to craigslist and see if I can find some used scaffolding pipe for cheaper.

gossumx (author)JStrider2011-06-01

Haha, that's exactly what I tried to do. Can't seem to find anything in the searches I've done.

ElvenChild (author)2010-09-01

calvin this is santa no presents unless you cream susie with a snowman

DenVogel (author)ElvenChild2010-09-01

Hobbes is on it...

ElvenChild (author)DenVogel2010-09-01

Isn't hobbes going to give you some lecture ask for a sandwich and walk away

Murphys Laws (author)2010-07-22

XL twin bunk & loft beds are expensive. This would be great & sturdy. Plus you can make it with as much head room as you need on the bottom bunk.

task41line (author)2010-07-20

Lol I tried putting up something exactelly like this 2 months ago and it didn't went well but I think this time it will be much easier.

jamesvertigo2 (author)task41line2010-07-20

yea this guide looks great I agree

Computothought (author)2010-07-19

Awesome idea for a bed.

mutantpoptart (author)2010-07-07

First off, this is awesome! Defineatly thinking outside the box! I love this and plan on making one this fall, as I am in need of a new and larger bed!

DenVogel (author)mutantpoptart2010-07-07

Cool. Send an update and let us know how it comes out.

stpierre2 (author)2010-05-31

I love this project, and will be attempting something similar. Anybody have any idea where I can get Kee Klamps in Canada????

startree (author)2010-04-28

Love it. Thanks for sharing! was just thinking how well this would work as a loft bed when i saw the other links...

Fretka (author)2010-03-04

 I am not real handy when it comes to things like this, but wouldn't it make sense to make 2 cross bars, or even 3 from long side to long side to support the box spring? then you wouldn't have to weld at the foot and head bars at all. instead of using such long lengths of pipes, use 2 more T's and add the supports?
I love this bed, and would love to try it myself, but I guess I would appreciate some feedback if my idea would be feasible or not. GREAT IBLE !

mjk1138 (author)2010-02-17


mjk1138 (author)2010-02-17

 I, too, would like to see this, and am curious how you did it without welding! Thanks!

RaptorOwl1 (author)2009-09-19

I think that I will modify this for a loft bed. Welding corner braces for a box spring will not be necessary if there are enough cross pipes. Additionally, a piece of plywood laid across the crosspipes with a memory foam mattress will do nicely. Consider using pipe insulation on the pipe where it is most likely to make contact with tender parts. There is a heavy rubberized type I found at Home Depot.

porcupinemamma (author)2009-05-31

It never fails to amaze me how many talented people there are in this community, and you certainly belong to that gang. Well done!!

keverill99 (author)2009-05-12

Hoping to make this bed within the next 3 weeks :) Not doing the canopy, it interferes with the ceiling fan, which I can't do without in Phoenix. Thinking of doing 2 supports on the bottom, then a piece of plywood to support the mattress? I'm only doing a mattress, no box spring, so I will space the side supports closer together.

DenVogel (author)keverill992009-05-12

Might consider slats instead of a solid piece of plywood. The mattress cannot breathe if solid underneath. If I understand what you're trying to do, you will not be able to bring the side supports in. Even without a canopy, you will still have four vertical posts that are the headboard/footboard. They sit at the outside corners. If you bring it in, the mattress won't fit between the posts. If you read through the instructable thread, I've already posted some additional directions for building a non-canopy version. Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.

keverill99 (author)DenVogel2009-05-12

That makes sense...Thanks!

DenVogel (author)2009-04-16

Cool. Post some photos when you're done.

jobradfield (author)2009-03-28

oooh! this is so cool! It could easily be steam-punked-up. I'm also looking for cheaper alternatives. Other than steel, is there anything cheaper?

DenVogel (author)2007-08-06

There have been some requests for a non-canopy design. Here are the modifications necessary for that model. Still queen size. Not only will this allow it to fit in bedrooms with lower ceilings, but fewer fittings and shorter lengths of pipe may help cut down on costs. 1. The four Elbow, Side Outlet (Kee 20-7) fittings that are currently the top four corners of the canopy are removed. 2. The four pieces of pipe that make up the canopy (two 62" and two 79") are removed. 3. The four longest sections (87") of pipe, formerly reaching to the canopy, get shortened to two 26" sections for the foot, and two 50" sections for the headboard. 4. The four Tee, Single Socket (Kee 10-7) that would now be the top fittings at the bed posts, get replaced with four 90-degree elbow (Kee 15-7) to connect the headboard and footboard. If this is too confusing, or there is enough interest, I can do a separate instructable for the non-canopy version of the bed.

notahandyman (author)DenVogel2009-03-13

Hello Thank you so much for your trouble I have sourced the fittings and pipe, I am intending to build a Queen, no canopy version without welding, but with a headboard. Is there any tips you think I would need to know Thanks again for the help And congrats on such a great design

DenVogel (author)notahandyman2009-03-13

I believe you will need at least two, maybe three, supports across the bottom underneath the mattress. With the welded supports removed from the ends using only two may cause the box spring to bend. This is addressed in the final design that is offered through simplified building.

trebuchet03 (author)2006-07-26

looks good :D Did you happen to forget that T in the bottom pipes? Just wondering because you mentioned it a few times :P

DenVogel (author)trebuchet032006-07-26

:) Good question! I actually didn't forget it when I built this, but I've done similar things on other projects. Doh! I know how frustrating things like that can be, so I thought I'd point it out and save folks some trouble.

edless74 (author)DenVogel2008-02-15

Found a cheaper brand to make the bed outta Interclamp about 30% cheaper than Keeklamps that Simplified sell.

foobaz utne (author)edless742008-11-30

Unfortunately they are in England and there are no US retailers, at least, that carry that line. Not online anyway. 30% is not that great a discount in any case. Kee Klamp is expensive but it's the shipping that really kills you. If you can find it locally and go get it you will save a bundle. Grainger seems like the most available local source but you need to be affiliated with a business, even if it is your spouse's employer. If the company is a large corporation, they usually offer you a significant discount. Easyfit ( is about 40% cheaper but there was no info on shipping. I suspect it is similarly high. Harbor Freight ( has a very limited selection of fittings that would be adequate for this project but the sizes are really strange. The price is dirt cheap but they look rough. Does anyone know a cheap source of these connectors from a company that is either local or has good shipping prices?

amatuerconstructicon (author)2008-09-09

just wondering how much it cost to build this bed for you aside from the box spring and mattress, just the frame. Wondering what im to expect trying this myself, as i am in love with this design.

I provide a part listing in step 3. There is also a link to Simplified Building in the resources section, where you can purchase a kit. It is about $1400, including the pipe and fittings.

mfbuchanan (author)2008-08-10

Wonderful! I'm thinking of adding a couple more bars across the headboard to make it a bit more "designish"; then covering pieces of foam or wood that are cut to fit the spaces betweeen the pipes with vinyl or leather and fitting them into the spaces. Would create a solid headboard. I also was thinking of adding a seating area or place to throw your clothes at the base of the bed extending past the foodboard. Using T's instead of L's at the base would allow this. Then just add two more legs. It can be left open for draping stuf on or you can add a top made of wood, glass, etc....

Cisneros.Evan (author)2008-05-02

it goes really well with the wooden rafters in your room. i like it a lot.

drewdoog (author)2008-03-15

excellent idea! I love the industrial look to it. This would be a great bedroom group. matching lamps, night table, tv stand, speaker stands, computer desk... its endless. ill be making something similar in upcoming days.

alistair (author)2006-07-27

I use Kee Klamps, both the galv iron and aluminium types for a variety of structures. They do work well but the untreated aluminium pipe leave black smudges. It doesn't look liek to anodised the pipe (quite expensive), did you try a coat of polyurethane?

DenVogel (author)alistair2006-07-27

Per Step 5, I decided to clear coat them to avoid potential oxidization and/or interaction between the dissimilar metals. I just used Krylon clear coat from a spray can. Has worked fine.

mrbob1000 (author)DenVogel2006-07-27

aluminum doesnt oxidize :I

markf (author)mrbob10002008-01-18

Aluminum oxidizes just fine. But it wont corrode. Apparently the effect is called "passivation".

Interesting side note -- even the tinest little drop of mercury can corrode and destroy an unlimited amount of aluminum. Apparently it's illegal to take mercury thermometers on airplanes for exactly that reason.

So if you build one of these, try not to break any mercury thermometers in bed. :p

trebuchet03 (author)mrbob10002006-07-28

Ever heard of Anodizing? Aluminum does not make rust(FeO,Fe2O3, etc.) when it oxidizes (unlike many ferrous materials). When Al oxidizes, if forms Al2O3... commonly known as Aluminum Oxide or corundum (corundum in to Al as Rust is to Fe). And Coleman! is absolutly right... Corundum is very common in abrasives for cutting tools and sandpaper (which is why some sandpaper has thar gray like color due to impurities). Its also a good insulator (unlike aluminum which is a good conductor). Amazing what adding an oxygen molecule will do to chemical properties and crystal structure :D The reason that aluminum does not break down like its ferrous counterpart is because Al Oxide protects the Al below from oxygen. So a few mm of Al oxide, and the specimin in 'safe' -- this is the principle behind anodization.

trebuchet03 (author)trebuchet032006-07-28

oh, I had meant to add in that first paragraph that you may be confusing the terms rust and oxidize with each other (which is not too uncommon). we've all done similar things in the past ;) -- for example, I was asked to define irony today... I was able to recognize 100% from this test... but I failed miserably at defining exactly what it is (I defined some other term by mistake) :P

Coleman! (author)mrbob10002006-07-28

Au Contraire, Mister Bob. ever use sandpaper?

spoonrelateddeath (author)2008-01-05

What you should do is add a chain link bed skirt. Give it an industrial look.

Truegod (author)2007-12-24

Great instructable. I'm ditching my futon and I think building this might be perfect. Although I'm probably doing the weld-free, non-canopy version (although I'm not sure yet). Thanks for the simplified design link too, I've been exploring their site and have a bunch of cool ideas for projects. I think I might use SketchupSketchup to flesh them out.

About This Instructable




More by DenVogel:Disappearing Water FountainAluminum Pipe Bed
Add instructable to: