Introduction: Cutting and Folding a Box Spring

Picture of Cutting and Folding a Box Spring
One of the most frustrating things when moving into a new apartment or house is trying to get those awkward pieces of furniture up the stairs. Box springs are the worst; they are bulky and inflexible, and it's just plain impossible to get them around some corners. Stores will sell you a pair of "split boxes" that are half as wide, but they will set you back a couple hundred bucks.

If you don't mind performing a little surgery, you can fold the box spring in half, making it much easier to move around. After rebuilding it, the box spring will still have all the structural integrity and support that it started out with. Here's what you'll need:

  • flathead screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Scissors
  • Wood Saw
  • Rope, cord, or twine
  • Power drill/screwdriver
  • Wood screws
  • Some lumber that's the same thickness as your box spring's wood; 1x2's are probably good. You need enough to make four boards that span the four central crosspieces.
  • Staple gun or upholstery tacks and a hammer

Step 1: Remove the Staples on the Long Sides

Picture of Remove the Staples on the Long Sides

Using the flathead screwdriver and pliers, remove all the staples from the underside of the box spring, along the long sides. Don't remove the staples on the short ends. Chances are, the fabric dustcover on the bottom is attached with a different, redundant set of staples from the top fabric. There are seriously a ton of staples here. Fortunately you can get the most tedious part of the job done first.

Once you're done, the fabric shouldn't be attached to the wood frame at all on both long sides.

Step 2: Cut the Dust Cover and Frame

Picture of Cut the Dust Cover and Frame

Find the center of the box spring, and cut the dust cover with your scissors or knife. Tuck each half of the dust cover into the springs on either end to get it out of the way.

Moving the top fabric out of the way, saw through the wood frame on each side. Your box spring is finally flexible! If all you need is to be able to bend it around a corner, you can skip the next step.

Step 3: Fold It in Half

Picture of Fold It in Half

Using a doorframe or other straight fulcrum, carefully bend the box spring in half along the exact middle of the top side. Guide the top fabric to slip off the corners of the wooden frame. Once the thick steel wire is partially bent, move it against a wall and fold it the rest of the way. This is a good job for two people, to keep it from springing back and hitting someone.

Have one person hold the box spring while the second person ties it shut with rope or twine. Now you should have a nice, compact package that is easy to transport up stairs, around corners, in the back of a vehicle, etc.

Don't leave it in this state for too long, though. It's possible that the wire would lose its springiness and be warped upon reconstruction.

Step 4: Reconstruct the Frame

Picture of Reconstruct the Frame

When you have the box spring in its desired location, lay it face down on the floor and push the middle down to flatten it out again. You'll notice in the pictures that I cut off the corners of the frame that were jutting out, to get past a sticky corner. This is okay since we're reinforcing those sections anyway. Stand along the bend in the wire to flatten it out as much as possible.

Cut four pieces of wood long enough to span between the middle four crossbeams. Fasten them to the crossbeams with the wood screws, adjacent to the cut rails. You'll notice that I split the wood pretty badly, but I put in enough screws that it felt secure. I couldn't find my drill bits in the moving chaos, but I should've spent a little more time looking. Always pre-drill your holes, kids!

Step 5: Reattach Top Fabric and Dust Cover

Picture of Reattach Top Fabric and Dust Cover

Using a staple gun or upholstery tacks, fasten the top fabric and dust cover to the frame. Pull the fabric tight before fastening. You don't need to attach them separately; one staple or tack through both fabrics will do.

In retrospect, staples are the better choice because they are easier to remove if you ever need to move the box spring again. I used tacks because they were handy at the time.

Once you're finished tacking the fabric in place, you're done! Enjoy your bed!


Alpine_Steer made it! (author)2016-07-01

thanks, I had been thinking if the best way to do this and your instructions helped convince the girlfriend it was a good idea. Also saved me a wad of cash.

EdQ3 (author)2016-03-29

Thanks so much for this. Followed the instructions, am typing this on the bed in the upstairs bedroom where it belongs. Now how long until I get over the fear the boxspring will just split at any moment?

Bcalderwood (author)2015-12-26

Great idea! Saved my son and his new bride a few hundred dollars. One suggestion from my wife: instead of cutting the fabric on the bottom remove it from one end back to just past the middle, then reattach it intact. We've found that cats love to crawl up inside the bed if there is any opening. Even if it is a small one they will make it big enough to crawl through.

MarcioWilges (author)2015-07-23

It is true that during a move, the greatest obstacle has got to be the stairs. It doesn’t matter if it is the flight of stairs inside your own house or the public stairs for apartment residents, it still poses a great challenge. That is why you should always entrust that tough feat to professional removalists who can handle the chore for you almost effortlessly due to their experience. Leave it all to them while you settle the easier tasks.

Are you actually posting on a DIY website to convince people not to do things themselves? It would be much more constructive to offer your expert advice as a professional mover so that people can do things themselves more easily.

MorrisManifesto (author)2015-12-20

Great tutorial. Super helpful. Never would have expected the wires in the box to bend to that degree. Advice if you're thinking about this: get the right tools and this is way better, easier and cheaper than buying a split box spring. Pre drill the holes! May want to buy a 6" clamp, too.

TroyS17 (author)2015-11-07

You helped us save over 100 dollars in wasted money. Instead of buying a split boxspring and paying to have it delivered, I performed surgery on the existing one. OMFG, it was perfect. Other than getting a huge scratch from a prematurely unfolding boxspring, it went nearly flawlessly. I bought a Dremel Multi-max, which allowed me to speed through the wood with little resistance and no measuring. :) Thank you for the perfect Instructable. A+++++

danielricci11 (author)2015-01-14

Has anyone tried this with a SULTAN ATLÖY boxspring from ikea??????

mick_park (author)2014-04-20

Excellent tutorial! I'd post my own photos but you nailed it. I have a very tight stairwell with a sharp 180 deg turn in my new house and there was no way my queen size box spring was even close to getting upstairs. Whole process probably took 2hrs to complete.

Panthercat (author)2014-02-24

Hi! I'm so excited to try this. I was wondering once a queen size box spring is folded if it will fit into a normal sized car. Has anyone tried this? I am also probably going to move a few more times in my life and was wondering if there was a way to put it back together again where i could easily take it apart again while maintaining all the support of the box spring. I know some people have posted about this but I'm not exactly sure what they did. Maybe if they could list parts or post a picture.


eyarbrough (author)2012-12-30

Just got done finishing up with my queen box spring. This instructable is GENIUS! Everything worked just like the instructable said it would.

sspunt (author)2012-11-04

Worked like a charm! We didn't need to completely fold, only needed to bend just enough to get up the stairs in our new house. This really did the trick. The box spring is now upstairs - haven't reassembled yet. I'm thinking of getting some metal brackets for the reassemble instead of wood, in case is needs to come back downstairs someday.

marimini (author)2012-09-25

Thanks for this. The furniture store was going to take our box spring back and for an extra hundred trade us a fold able one.

Turned out ours was easier to cut, it was only slats and some cardboard, no springs.

We are going to use the metal bars instead of the wooden 1 X 2's when we reassemble, so when we have to move it downstairs again. We can take those off and fold it again.

Patrik (author)2008-01-26

You know, I have to admit I've never understood the purpose of a box spring. I suspect they're a purely American thing - I can't remember ever seeing one when I was growing up in Europe.

What, Americans are so wimpy that one mattress isn't good enough? :-P

jrozelle (author)Patrik2011-10-24

The box spring really just gives the mattress something firm to rest on higher off the ground, and easier for old bones to get out of bed in the morning. I'm sure that it is a relatively recent invention. 100 years ago people were still sleeping on mattresses stuffed with straw.

carpespasm (author)Patrik2008-02-11

I'm not sure myself, but old ones with the wood frame removed can very as very nice dirt road graters. (dueling banjos) :P

geezmichelle (author)Patrik2008-01-26

Do you use bed slates more? I'm getting some that roll up nicely and throwing out my box spring

Patrik (author)geezmichelle2008-01-26

Yes, slats are fairly common these days. I think our old beds used to have a sort of net made from stiff metal springs - something that would give a little, but only a few inches. Some beds have a stiff metal latticework, or even just a wooden board to rest the mattress on.

SpinWard (author)Patrik2008-01-26

I completely agree. I'm an American and I don't understand it! Mattress seller: You HAVE to buy this box spring thing. One mattress just isn't enough!! You should be higher off the floor than you are now!! BUY IT!

dneufer (author)2011-10-19

Oh yeah, and mine had 8, yes, 8 support bars and 4 of them were double boards. crazy! haha

dneufer (author)2011-10-19

I live in a tiny basement apartment in Chicago and both myself and roomate have queen box springs. Thank you SOOOOOO MUCH for saving us several 100s of dollars on not having to buy a new bed or a collapsible box spring. Thanks!

gschoenebeck (author)2011-09-26

I removed the staples to find that the middle support beam is made of metal and not wood. It seems very difficult to remove it all together because it is firmly connected to each wood cross bar. Any advice?

ctwisk (author)2011-07-17

Like the others, thanks for posting this!!. I was able to get a queen bed down to my basement. Stairway is a tad scuffed up but that is to be expected :P Again, great article and thanks for posting it!!

Pinkitude (author)2011-06-28

HA! that worked Awesome!! Thanks !!

C.D33 (author)2011-01-10

I did it! Thanks for the idea.

I used a screwdriver and pliers to remove the cover underneath. Then used a jigsaw to cut the 3 wood supports. I used Thule load straps to bend the mattress over backwards and it held just fine as we brought it upstairs. I used your idea of the metal plates, but I drilled holes and used bolts/nuts/washers instead of screws for added strength.

We recently moved into a really old house, and the queen size boxspring would not go up the stairs. We have been sleeping on the mattress on the floor for 2 weeks trying to figure out what to do.

katebrawn (author)2010-12-04

Thank you thank you thank you, this worked like a dream. While converting our house into a Granny flat for ourselves ( parents are moving in we moved to the basement) We were having a tough day of getting our things down to the basement and the last thing we had to move was the bed, and it just would not go. Found this link on the web followed the instructions it worked and save $250 for a split box thanks again, Hugs 2 u K8

Eric_Columbus (author)2010-06-20

Illustrations show very light-weight bed box spring. I just did a Queen size heavy-duty for my daughter. Suggest remove all staples from top & both sides of dust cover & fold back. Remove all staples from both long sides of frame cover & use jig saw to cut inwards (to prevent fabric damage) from the edge. Then MEASURE THE TOP EDGE ROD, and go to the hardware store for some 3-1/2" pipe nipples with ID similar to the OD of rod. Cut the rod with an open-ended hacksaw, THEN bend the remaining wires against a corner, and use load binders to snugly compress the frame in half. (Gives you something to grab onto while moving the folded box spring. Once in the final room, slide the tight-fitting pipe nipples over the upper rod, and bend back (open) to slide & center the nipples over the cut rod as a splice. Then tape in place with electricians tape. Lay it out flat on the floor top down, step on the smaller "spring" wires to straighten them out, and use mending plates on all cut frame members, with heavy 1" x 4" x 1/16" thick plates on the outside edges, bottoms & sides, and thinner sheet-metal plates on the two inner supports on the bootom only. Reattach the fabric with large staples, then unroll & reattach the dust cover. Doesn't require any fabric cutting, makes the whole assembly as strong or stronger than the original, and you'll never know it had been cut in half! No squeeks, no rattles, no flex once done & secure. DON'T try to just bend the top rod members, which will deform & be difficult to re-straighten. Cutting the box spring is EASY, done properly with adequate tools, and VERY sturdy & secure. Best yet, you can always move it again by simple pulling staples, undoing the tape on the nipple splices, refold & restrap it, and do it all over again at the next location. It DOES work, with no ill effects, even to a top-of-the-line heavy-duty box spring. Take your time, buy appropriately at the hardware store (we took three trips to get everything right, but it was well worth it!) and my daughter LOVES it. Good luck & Cheers!

rhansen (author)2009-08-22

This is great..we ended up buying a new bed and box spring for ourselves, but used this for our guest room. It worked out perfectly! Thanks for the clear instructions and pictures...

NolanFinn (author)2009-08-20

I did this. Saved a bunch of money. A few notes, a split box spring around the corner was $140. I purchased everything but the drill (saw, screws, wood, staple gun, staples, etc) and it was $60 at home depot. My box spring had a big metal bar running down the center and I just ended up cutting through that too. Now I have a box spring and a bunch of tools. THANKS!

catuli02 (author)2009-08-02

Awesome. I thought we were just going to have to bend it, but would up folding it completely in half. Then it still looked like we wouldn't get it down without completely severing it, but managed to get it thru. Thnx for reminding me to pre-drill the wood screws!

SilverLinings (author)2009-06-24

My first DIY project in my new home and it was a SUCCESS! Time-consuming but very do-able ... even for a novice do-it-yourselfer like me. Thanks for the clear instructions and photos. The actual bending part was the most challenging because I did this solo. Plan on getting some help. I actually had a brief moment of panic halfway up the stairs when I pictured my boxsping springing open and trapping me there ... where someone would ultimately find my dead body and wonder what the heck I was doing. All's well that ends well, though and I sleep peacefully every night without a single creek beneath my queen-sized bed.

CATscratchfever (author)2009-03-12

I am working up to this project! The boyfriend seems pretty intimidated by it - but I do not want to have my bed live in the living room -- and I don't want to give the boxsprings away....and use plywood on my bed! I paid 350.00 for this sucker! I looked at the photos again - and I know this is DO- able! I am psyching myself up for this! I want to try it! I may have to get someone else to help me....I know bending it back may be tricky

casey.grant (author)2009-02-27

We completed this project last night and it took us about 5 hours total. The problem(s) we ran into was that in the middle of the bed frame was a vertical wood piece that I didn't want to spit down the middle, so I thought it would be best to make the 3 cuts to the right of it. Boy was I wrong. When we folded the bed - using two sets of heavy duty moving straps - one side was six inches longer than the other and the 3 boards that were cut stuck out and we ended up having to cut those off also. Unfortunately our staircase is a VERY narrow, sharp 90 degree and odd shaped. We ended up replacing both long side of the bed with new wood pieces from the home supply store. I suggest using the moving straps and rotating them out to make the bend nice and tight. Good luck! My next house will be Ranch Style.

bigrick523 (author)2009-01-20

Very good option instead of having to buy a split box spring. Very easy and quick to do. Spent only $20 on tacks, saw and wood. Feels very strong. Great post!!

Jrfall (author)2009-01-09

Very nice instructable. My dad is a handy guy and so I asked him about doing this when I moved into my new apartment 3 years ago. He said it wouldn't be something he wanted to mess with. With this I think I'd be more than willing to tackle it!

naturalsis (author)2008-11-07

You are so awesome for posting this! Now I don't have to throw out my box spring.

AceHogg (author)2008-11-05

Thank you so much for posting this. For 3 long years I have tried to figure off and on how to get my Nice, New Box Spring upstairs to our bedroom. The house was built early 50's and has extremely small doorways. I was just about to break down and by a split spring when I stumbled onto this. For anyone with the same problem let me assure you, THIS WORKS!!! It is as simple as Entropomorphic makes it out to be. The only thing that I may add is always use Personal Protective Equipment (safety glasses when cutting wood, gloves when prying staples and applying new staples, safety first!) Seriously I can't thank you enough, you saved me and my back a lot of trouble in the future!

fondyin (author)2008-09-28

This is an awesome instructable. I was wondering this could be modified and made into a base for a futon style couch. Use a wood futon frame with the box springs attached to it. You could then put the mattress on top and not only raise it up but give more padding as well.

entropomorphic (author)fondyin2008-10-06

It's possible, but probably difficult. I would be worried about the wire undergoing metal fatigue and breaking after too many conversion cycles; it's really not meant for being bent at all, let alone repeatedly, or for a long time.

boognishmofo (author)2008-08-31

DOHHH!!!! I wish I had fu(∈ seen this last, before I took the door frame apart, cut two steps down and cut a hole in my bathroom wall to try to take the steps apart first. After unsuccessfully trying all of the above I decided to cut the frame apart but was unable to and didnt think of folding it in half. Once again should have checked instructables first. DOHHHH!!!!

Gwenefar (author)2008-07-14

Thanks so much for sharing this. I thought hubby was just going to have to leave our mattress on the floor without the frame and boxsprings. This was very very helpful.

oozzzii (author)2008-05-19

thanks for sharing this - I found the instructions very useful.. I wish I had read this article before leaving some marks in the hallway while attempting to move the spring box to the basement. But a little touch paint and it will back to normal..and I can now use that extra room in the basement as a guest bed room - thanks!

totoro70 (author)2008-05-03

This worked great! Thanks!

weedfish (author)2008-04-30

Thanks! I tried this and it really works. I wouldn't have thought of this solution on my own.

whatgives (author)2008-01-26

Great instructable! Unique problem; well-documented solution. Thanks for sharing.

azog (author)2008-01-26

Gah I needed this a year ago. I threw out a perfectly good box spring cause we couldn't get it up the stairs and around the corner.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-26

Cool, I want to make a thing like this kind of, but I'll be in the box thing. Then, at night when somebody comes to sleep, I'll make noises and start to push the mattress up and stuff.... hahahaha! Nice job.

timheppner (author)2008-01-26

I really like this idea! Too bad I hadn't heard of it before I moved, but I will certainly use this trick for next time, thanks for the great instructable. :-)

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