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Cheap, easy, low-waste platform bed plans

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Build a queen size platform bed on the cheap, with storage space underneath, for less than $30, in about an hour, and learn some basic carpentry skills in the process. Please read the "design objective" below.

For similarly easy shelving plans, see: http://www.instructables.com/id/Cheap-easy-low-waste-bookshelves/
For similarly easy dining table plans, see:http://www.instructables.com/id/Cheap-easy-low-waste-trestle-table/

As a professional carpenter, furniture maker, and designer/builder, I see a lot of home carpentry projects that are grossly overbuilt and over-engineered. One of the goals of this Instructable is to avoid the unnecessary overbuilding that I frequently see on this site, and that I see every day working in the residential construction industry. Many of the building methods we (in the US) use today are horribly wasteful despite the advances that have been made in materials science and structural engineering, because most people in the residential building industry, from architects and engineers to carpenters, are mired in tradition, doing things a certain way "because that is how it has always been done", rather than consulting the best available science, or even questioning their own assumptions about "the right way to do it". I don't intend to knock tradition, either. Many of the tricks, techniques, and tools that I use daily are definitely "old-school", but seem to have been forgotten.

This bed is designed to be cheap, lightweight, sturdy, and produce a minimum of waste, using a minimum number of tools. It is intended for use with a futon or mattress without a boxspring and provides storage space underneath sized to fit common cheap plastic storage bins. It also provides good ventilation for the futon or mattress, something that I learned was necessary after my expensive futon grew a large mold/mildew patch on the underside. For those who might think that this bed is flimsy, my wife and I use it nightly, and I am 6'-5" and weigh 240lbs. I wouldn't jump up and down in the middle of it, but it will easily take any other abuse you commit upon it. When I calc it out, this bed uses 23.16 board feet of lumber (1 bd.ft.= 144 cu.in.), or 1.93 cubic ft., and produces only 42 cubic inches of waste, about 1.25%.

Instructables member frazeeg has posted a SketchUp model here.
 
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tealeaf934 years ago
Well looks like im not the only one that has built one of your beds and liked it. Thanks a lot for posting this instuctable. I've saved a ton of money.
aeray (author)  tealeaf934 years ago
You're welcome, and thanks for the comment. I enjoyed (and still enjoy) making it and posting it. Enjoy your bed.

Awesome bed frame. I plan on building one in a twin size. Can I get the material list and instructions for that?

aeray (author)  laurie simone7 days ago
Everything is the same, just make the slats 4" shorter
mquinton20 days ago

This looks awesome! I was going to come up with my own plan and you saved me some trouble! :) One question, though. I have a teenage son that is 6'6"+ and at least 340 lbs. He has a habit of tackling me and throwing me on the bad. Also, I will be kneeling on the bed when I put on the sheets since it will be in a corner. I worry that the 1"x4"s might crack under the abuse. But then again, 1" is pretty thick, so I'm torn. What do you think? I wonder if I should just use a sheet of plywood? I welcome advice.

aeray (author)  mquinton20 days ago
I am a big guy too, but not that big. Substitute 2x6s for the frame, and use 2x4s for the slats. I wouldn't use plywood because you need to have some air circulation.
mquinton aeray20 days ago
Thanks! That sounds sturdy enough. :) I'll be sure and put up some pics when I'm done.
califazen1 month ago

I t hink I may narrow the space between slats just a bit for the next one. I laid up a pair of 1x4s on the centerline beneath since the not-so-great-quality warehouse wood was making annoying noises; I may do a king-size version next; that will need a center support--do you think a center leg—maybe just a 1x4— for a bigger model?

aeray (author)  califazen1 month ago
Others have used a 2x4 lengthwise down the center, basically a third rail, attached about 1/4" lower than the slats so there is still a bit of room for them to flex, and another leg made of two pieces of 1x4 just like the other ones.
alejandroerickson made it!1 month ago

Fun! I made one too. Do I get points for using reclaimed wood?

Here is a timelapse video of it http://youtu.be/DeeaGircsJI

20140308_143807.jpg
aeray (author)  alejandroerickson1 month ago
Sure, have some points for the improvisation too. You may want to back up the slat nails with some screws though. Thanks for the video!
alejandroerickson made it!1 month ago

Fun! Do I get the extra points for using reclaimed wood? Timber is expensive in the UK :p

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeeaGircsJI

20140308_143807.jpg
Chrisakus2 months ago

I would like to make this for a king mattress. Do you have a supplies list and instructions for that too? I'm wondering if you would recommend additional mid-bed supports to accommodate the larger mattress?

shocksystems3 months ago
My bed collapsed on Sunday morning. After looking for bed frames I realized they were all expensive, would take a while to get and all had questionable strength. Then I searched and found this instructable. I went to Home Depot (the only thing open) got the stock (only had grade 2 pine and not in the dimensions suggested to minimize waste), the total cost was close to $100. Construction went well and we slept on it that night. Feels solid, my wife was very impressed. Thanks for a great instructable.
IMG_20131222_223605779.jpg
aeray (author)  shocksystems2 months ago
Looks good, thanks for the photo.
bananafrog2 months ago

Thanks much for the plans. I previously had an issue b/c I had used cheap screws that crumpled in the wood. But after replacing them w/ solid screws, I put the bed together no problem.

However, I'd really like it to be very sturdy. Zero rocking. And at this point, it still seems to have some give, and makes noise when the bed is being, uh, actively used.

What's the best way to make this bed rock solid?

Thanks!!!!

aeray (author)  bananafrog2 months ago
The lumber is still acclimating to the temperature and humidity in your home, which is probably greatly different than that at the lumberyard. Firmly retighten the frame and leg screws with a handheld screwdriver. Don't bother with the slat screws. You may have to do this more than once as everything " settles in". If your activity level is ​particularly high, diagonal braces of 1x4 on the legs (at a 45deg angle) forming a right triangle between the leg and 2x4 frame may be necessary. I'd try snugging up the screws a time or two first, though.
AlexandreZ8 months ago
You don't mention sanding at all, but your boards don't appear particularly rough. Is there an implicit sanding step in here?
aeray (author)  AlexandreZ8 months ago
Nope. No sanding. Nothing really shows. Make sure you get "S4S" lumber ("surfaced four sides") and it should be smooth enough. Almost all lumber from yards in the US is sold this way. Non-S4S is usually special order. If you want to dress it up a bit, sand the visible surfaces with 120 grit paper, stain them, and clearcoat, but mine is plain unfinished, unsanded wood. If you do decide to dress yours up, please post pics.
numb3r5ev3n aeray3 months ago

This was pretty much what I did when I stained mine with Varathane Ebony. I had great results - you can't even tell it's just framing lumber anymore. This is also a great project for learning how to stain and finish wood.

numb3r5ev3n3 months ago

Just popped in to say that I helped my friend put one of these together in her guest room last night. She has one of those crazy 16-inch thick pillowtop mattresses, so we just omitted the legs. Doing this sort of gives it the effect of a floating platform bed. Thanks again!

bananafrog3 months ago

Hi there! I picked up all the parts. Including #10 screws. They are Philips head, couldn't find Torx.

I drilled in holes with the countersink into the 2x4. But the 3" screws only went about .5" before getting warped, stripped and then stuck in the wood. Tried it w/ several screws. Any idea what's going on?

aeray (author)  bananafrog3 months ago
Any number of things. One, cheapo screws. Two, Phillips head. Three, a knot in the lumber.

My first suspicion is cheapo screws, though. You could try ceramic-coated exterior-grade screws, which are a bit more expensive but generally of better quality.

Let me know how it goes.
hobotraveler4 months ago
Thanks, I am in Kara, Togo West Africa, and need to buy a bed. The locals sell ready to go frames that have the mattress at 14 inches high. This makes getting in and out of a bed more difficult, especially for large people. I believe the design of the legs of your bed is as strong as possible, for the least amount of wood. I have lived in over 1000 hotels, and storage under a bed is extremely valuable in a small hotel room. Plus this type of bed makes flipping a mattress, and cleaning underneath better. On a strange note, mosquitoes hide under bed, along with cockroaches, etc. Therefore this is another great reason for platform beds. Thanks, what I love about instructables is that they use appropriate ideas, not make work ideas. Andy Graham in Kara, Togo
aeray (author)  hobotraveler4 months ago
Glad you like it. My extensive travels in Australia and Central America did inform the design, I must admit.

Have you built one? Are you going to?
I am going to have three made, two doubles and one single bed size. I think I want the top of the platform at 20 inches high.

What I needed was the photos, I will have them printed today at the cyber cafe. Then show them to a carpenter, get a price, then have them make one as the model, and then do the other two after I am sure he is with the program. Herein is the problem, I can give exact measurement, drawings, etc. and, they will ignore. Truly the photo work 50 times better than a drawing.

I may just have them make some legs, then tell them to connect to a platform, I feel they can get the platform adequate, it is the legs strength that I worry about. I do not want the bed wiggling or falling. Your L design of legs, makes a gusset in the end, diagonal supports to solve the problem of rectangles.

I am also working on a malaria project, and will incorporate into the bed the ability to hang a mosquito net. More or less this platform type of bed will minimize rips in bed nets. Their present design is horrible.

What Africa needs to stop malaria is crews of good carpenters who understand building. For example, many houses are hot because they do not ventilate the dead air space of the roof. Simple, simple problems to solve, but not solved.

People do not use bed nets because they are hot, but I do not blame them, the house designs here are some of the worst on the planet.

I will put up a photo when done.
aeray (author)  hobotraveler4 months ago
Hey, I run up against all types of construction ignorance here in the US too. "No, I'm not going to do it any other way than the way my dad and his daddy before him did it". It is pervasive here, and cripples the building trades. Another example: I was recently in Suzhou, China, where it snows and is regularly below freezing. Buildings are almost always uninsulated masonry construction, and have no central heating. Why are they uninsulated? "If it worked here, we already would have thought of it, hundreds of years ago. Obviously, if it worked here, we would already be doing it. Insulation will not work in Suzhou." End of discussion. This kind of thinking pisses me off to no end. Best wishes, and best of luck.
lothbrok4 months ago
Hi. May sound like a dumb question, but can the measures be altered to fit a king-sized futon mattress? (I have an oversized futon mattress that's 81'' x 81'', near as I can tell). Would this design still be structurally sound at that size, or do I need to brace it with a rail down the middle? I love the look, but having 2' of mattress hanging off the sides won't do me much good if I build it to the current specs. Thanks! :)
lunicycle5 months ago
Thanks - This was the first piece of furniture I have ever made.

My son’s room is very small and was looking for a frame that would take up no more space than the mattress. No one seems to make one so ended up here. Decided initially that I would do it without laths overhanging but fortunately, see below, changed my mind in order to accommodate a wall socket without making the bed ridiculously high. I used slight variations on timber sizes based on what my local DIY shop had in planed timber and got them to cut the lengths. The other variation I made was to use 70 mm solid square legs but this did mean I had to check out how the screws worked on the corners, screws don’t screw into screws! To check this out I used a bit of free software called FreeCAD which I managed to put the design on to very quickly, see picture.

When we, my son helped me, finished the bed it was solid as a rock but with one problem. I had sized it to the nominal size of the mattress without realising that mattresses don’t have square corners, well at least his doesn't, so off with the bottom lath and out with a jig saw and sander to put a ¼ ellipse on the offending corner, see picture.

This bed is so solid and comfortable; it was the cheapest but the best in the house and I am now thinking about building a double for my wife and me. – Thanks again.
aeray (author)  lunicycle4 months ago
Looks good, and thanks for the photos.
Pictures are here. For some reason Chrome wouldn't let me add them so swapped to IE.
bed design.jpgIMG_6989.JPG
kenwolf4 months ago
I am a Home Improvement Contractor and my 22 year old Daughter asked me to build a platform bed for her. My first design ideas were much more complicated and expensive than yours. She sent me a link to your site, and the simplicity and function of your design will save me a lot of work. I'll let you know how it come out.
aeray (author)  kenwolf4 months ago
Yep, I had a few other designs worked out, but I needed a bed, quick. Let me know how yours turns out.
edel5 months ago
So we made bed two today, The first one I made (about a year ago) I had shortened the legs, this one was made as per the plans above, and it is mad high!..,,my mattress is fairly thick and I am tall, but a small family could camp out underneath. I am also a little disappointed that this one squeaks and the first one didn't but the first one is in a space that is boundaried on three sides, so perhaps that prevents some movement and squeaks.

I could only get decking screws that had a torc head, which were great (until I hit knots in the wood and they camed out..) the rest were the usual crappy phillips..

Tomorrow I am going to cut about 6 inches off the legs and add a few more screws to tighten everything up.

I added a 4x1 rail all along one side, to finish off the sides, to stop me adding to my collection of bruises, The bed is against a wall and so I pulled the first and last slat out by about 3mm, and screwed the rail to these.. (to avoid squeaks!)..


however it is still a brilliant project, easy (especially if you have someone else to cut the wood) ...thanks again aeray
aeray (author)  edel5 months ago
Sounds good. Sometimes it helps to retighten all of the screws after using the bed for a few days, especially if the lumber was stored outdoors (even covered) and particularly if you have forced air or electric radiator heat.
edel aeray5 months ago
Will do, thanks for that. I still haven't chopped it down..so it is currently known as 'the bed in the clouds'..

it very comfortable and probably leads to lofty thoughts.

Thanks for the tip re tightening the screws. I actually ended up using unfinished 4x2 as my local hardware store didn't stock it (and they were so much cheaper than the chain stores) their 'rough' 4x2 was plenty good enough for this project and has been stored outside, and then in my house for a couple of weeks, but not in an area of much heat, so I will remember to tighten everything up over the next while.

also just to let you know the extra 4x1 'rail' I put on the side, works perfectly for this klutz...no bruises!
jill205 months ago
Thanks for this wonderful instructable! After checking 3 independent hardware stores and 2 big box stores, the only non-Phillips head screws I can find are 8's rather than 10's. Would that be a major problem?
aeray (author)  jill205 months ago
For the 2" screws, #8 should be fine. For the 3" screws though, I'd size them up to #12, instead of down to #8.
rush2ady5 months ago
Hi, I love this design (the minimalism appeals to me). However, my husband seems quite taken by the nomad furniture I've made (bookshelves, large desk) and now wants everything to be collapsible for easy moving. I'm thinking of ways to modify this to come apart more easily. Maybe a couple large bolts instead of screws to attach the side and foot rails together, and maybe heavy duty velcro to attach the slats instead of screwing them on? And I want shorter legs, which I would screw half the leg piece to the side rail, the other half to foot rail.
What's your opinion--will this work? Or do you have a suggestion of a different design altogether? I've looked around online, but really wanted to use the 12' 2x4s now that I have them, rather than 1xwhatevers to make a mortar/tenon or interlocking design.
aeray (author)  rush2ady5 months ago
Taking out the screws only takes 2-3 minutes using a drill, so it is already fairly nomadic. I've moved ours three times now, and disassembled and reassembled it more times than that.

The Velcro is an interesting idea, and would probably work, but you would lose most of the shear strength along the horizontal plane; the bed could "go rhombus". Similarly, the two pieces that form each leg need to be attached to each other for strength.

I'm interested to hear (and see) what you come up with; keep me informed.
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