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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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partrician4 years ago
i loved this project. i had to go to the home depot to get the lumber though but i got home and had this done within 2 hour. now i want to do the headboard mod with the nigth stand extension. i have already mapped it out and plan to install a drawer under the night stand exstension. thank you so much for such a cool project!!! i have saved a ton of money!!
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.
bravewave16 days ago

I've built every bed in our home over the last 15 years, resizing as the kids got older. I even built "the amazing fold up bunkbeds" which played to rave reviews from friends. But nothing I built has been so well received as your bed plan. It's simply, elegant, efficient and nice to look at with cabinet grade pine even left untreated. Thought I'd thank you and share that as I build another one on request from a tenant in one of our rental properties. I reviewed your bookshelves (which I will certainly build) and your trestle table (looks great and simple.) I most appreciate the lack of waste as your plans are so efficient. Keep 'em coming!

Rileykj7516 days ago

Hi there- I know this is an older instuctable, but I just wanted to say thanks! Never built a thing before, and your directions were amazing. I knew nothing of screws before I read your post, and I cannot believe what a difference it makes! It was like drilling into butter. So, thanks much. I now have some skills (very small amount) but more confindence!

jpolfer made it!17 days ago

Thank you for this plan! I adapted it - its built for xl-twin, I used 2x6s for the box, 2 inch gap for cross members, and no legs. Your joinery explanation was very helpful for me. This was my first woodworking project ever, and it worked out well. The platform has great stability and contributes to a great night's sleep. I also made a small nightstand using left over wood and the same joinery technique to go along with it.

bed_platform.jpgnightstand.jpg
clint32001 month ago

I made another twin today and changed it slightly from last one. I put the smaller 2x4's inside the longer 2x4's on the frame. It made the frame a little wider for stability.

Edited twin sizes:

(3) 14' 1x4s

(1) 18' 2x4

From the 14' 1 x 4's , cut 5 33.5" slats (on 4 of the slats, cut them in half for legs)

from the 18' 2x4 cut 2 x 5'11" long frame pieces and 2 x 2'3" short frames pieces

Put the smaller 2x4's inside the longer sections when making frame.

Side marks for the slats:

2 1/4

9 1/4

16 1/4

23 1/4

30 1/4

37 1/4

44 1/4

51 1/4

58 1/4

65 1/4

2 1/4 from other end for last one.

Total for lumber was $29

aeray (author)  clint320029 days ago
Thanks for the dimensions.
Spax_29 days ago

Gonna give this a go next days off I have.

The closest timber sizes I can find in the UK are 19x100mm and 38x100mm. Will that timber still work or will that 10mm difference build up and I'll end up with something out of whack? I guess there's only one way to find out.

aeray (author)  Spax_29 days ago
The thicknesses are within hundredths, so no problem there. Lumber isn't even milled that accurately. It is about half an inch wider, which shouldn't make a difference, except that you will need a few less slats.
aramina made it!1 month ago

I built a twin size bed! Somehow. LOL. I'd never used a saw before, and only used a drill a couple times. But...

Hardware store's saw was broken and all we have is a handsaw. I sat down two Sundays ago and spent a couple hours cutting everything to size. Wood sat out in my garage until today, when I finally had time for it. The first time I put the frame together, one corner popped up several inches. Not sure why. Pulled it apart, tried again, and you can see the result in the picture.

Local stores don't carry 10x2 screws in anything but Phillips head, and the 9x2 Torx were out of stock when I last checked. A few days ago, I gave up on my search for something approximating the right size and bought Phillips head. Started trying to put the legs together and the slats on, and it was a nightmare. Even predrilling didn't help. Ended up screwing some of them in by hand (my hands did not appreciate this).

Fed up, I headed back to the store for anything but Phillips head. Found the #9 2-inch screws, counted my blessings, came home, and it took all of ten minutes to screw the legs and remaining slats in place.

The bed feels solid as a rock. My only issue is the height. I like all the storage space beneath, but with an elderly cat who likes to hang out on my bed, it's not ideal. But maybe with my new sawing and drilling skills I'll make some stairs for her to replace my current solution of a chair and a cardboard box.

IMG_20140603_213144.jpgIMG_20140615_113134.jpgIMG_20140616_002129.jpg
clint32001 month ago

Awesome plans. I made the queen size first per the listed specs.

I then made a twin and wanted to post my specs in acse it helps someone else:

My lumber store did all the cuts for free, so this was handy for hauling in small truck.

Boards for twin - (3) 14' 1 x 4 ; (1) 18' 2 x 4

From each 1x4 cut (5) 33 1/2" slats (on for of those cut in half for legs)

From the 18ft 2x4 cut (2) 5' 11" and (2) 2' 3" frame pieces.

Side marks fro the slats: 3 1/4", 10 3/8, 17 1/2, 24 5/8, 31 7/8, 39, 46 1/8, 53 1/4, 60 3/8, 67 1/2, 71 ......yes I missed one gap by an 1/8 but it works.

Total for lumber was $29. Already had hardware, so this was cheap and easy. Thanks again.

peets2 months ago

l love woud and the bed

ncilley2 months ago

I just made this tonight. I bought materials, star screws, and a set of countersink bits with pilot in sizes #12, #10, #8 and #6 from Home Depot and spent $51.38. I wish they sold the bits individually, the set was over $10. Downfall on lumber, the 14' 1x4 was #2, and the 10' 1x4 was prime, so I spent more on the 10' than the 14' boards. I don't mind the rustic look of the lumber, it is not visible once the mattress is in place, but trying to avoid knots when driving in screws gets tough on the lesser quality boards.
I enlisted the help of the 18 year old help at the cutting center. Today was Mother's Day so no one was in the store. He had no problem making the 20 or so cuts on the radial arm saw. Much faster than doing it by hacksaw at home, and the new lengths of lumber could now fit in my suv.
My son and husband sanded the edges of all the boards while I measured all points for pilot holes. I did not want to risk splitting any wood, because there were no leftovers for repair or replacement. The new drill bits worked smoothly. My 10 year old son got to try his hand at measuring points for the pilot holes and actually drilled some out. I wanted to sleep on this bed tonight, so I finished up quickly.
Once the frame was together I also showed him the distance from corner to corner trick to square up the frame. He was impressed. The boys then set out the slats and held them in place while I screwed away.
My husband was concerned the legs wouldn't hold when I showed him how they were attached. I told him about all the positive comments in your instructible, and bargened that if it was not solid, I would go back and pick up some extra supports and eat crow quietly.
Guess who's not sleeping on the floor tonight?! :) Thank you so much for your help.

temp_-2075252919.jpg
aeray (author)  ncilley2 months ago
Looks good. Thanks for the photo.
andrewdue2 months ago

I am very seriously considering building this. I love the simple design and the storage space underneath. My only concern is how the mattress overhangs the edges. I don't want to buy a nice mattress and then the bed frame ends up digging into it and possibly causing damage. Can anyone tell me if they have had a problem with this, or is this something that isn't worth worrying about?

ncilley andrewdue2 months ago

Totally worth it! It won't hang off that much. Just enough that you don't skin your knee getting into bed.Sand the edges of the slats, and you can put a dust ruffle over the entire bed before putting your mattress on top, just to be sure. if you have a really tall mattress you may want to shorten the legs. My mattress is 10". Any taller I would need a stepstool.
The poor picture below shows 2 of the slats under my mattress, with about 4" of overhang, the other side only has 2" of overhang (need to adjust mattress it's not center ugh).
Good luck hope you like it!

temp_221986266.jpg
aeray (author)  andrewdue2 months ago
​I haven't had any issues with ours. We use a high-end futon with it. The problem with making the slats longer is that they beat up your shins if you bump into or lean over the bed, or poke your calves if you are sitting on the edge of the bed. Others have made them longer and "capped" the ends with another 1x4 run continuously horizontally around the outside edge of the slats, and attached to the ends of the slats themselves.
laurie simone3 months ago

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 simone3 months ago
Everything is the same, just make the slats 4" shorter
mquinton3 months 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)  mquinton3 months 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 aeray3 months ago
Thanks! That sounds sturdy enough. :) I'll be sure and put up some pics when I'm done.
califazen5 months 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)  califazen4 months 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!4 months 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)  alejandroerickson4 months 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!4 months 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
Chrisakus5 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?

shocksystems7 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)  shocksystems6 months ago
Looks good, thanks for the photo.
bananafrog6 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)  bananafrog6 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.
AlexandreZ11 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)  AlexandreZ11 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 aeray6 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.

numb3r5ev3n6 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!

bananafrog6 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)  bananafrog6 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.
hobotraveler7 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
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