Throw away your clumsy old steel frame bed. You deserve a bed that looks like it’s floating! And glows! And is impossible to stub your toe on! And most importantly - that you built with your own hands. You may have seen something like this online before, but I’ve made some improvements that make it easier to assemble, stronger, and easier to move.
I built this bed on one unseasonably warm day in November. It requires a minimum of tools, and can be done by only one person. It is designed to come apart into pieces small enough for a single person to carry into a house and assemble.
The bed in this Instructable is queen sized, and designed for use with a box spring. If you don't have a box spring, simply cut a piece of plywood, fibreboard, MDF or particleboard to lay across the "ladder" sections.
Step 1: Tools and Supplies
- Mitre saw
- Electric drill
- Tape measure
- Lots of clamps
- Pilot drill bit for #8 construction screws
- 1/2" drill bit
- Impact driver (optional)
- Planer (optional)
- Drill guide (optional, but recommended)
- Dowel centre kit (optional, but recommended)
- 2x4x8 pine : 12
- 2x6x8 pine : 8
- 2x10x5 pine : 2
- 1/2” dowels
- 2.5” #8 wood screws
- 3” #8 wood screws
- Wood glue (I recommend Titebond III)
- rope light (single colour, or RGB)
- cable clips
A note on "dimensional" lumber available from DIY stores like Home Depot: a 2x4 is actually about 1.5"x3.5". I recommend using the pre-planed pine rather than the construction-grade spruce. It costs a bit more, but it's easier to work with, has no surface marks, and has nice square corners.
Step 2: The Ladder Sections
The box spring rests mainly on three "ladder" sections. These are what you'll build first. Before you start, be sure to measure the dimensions of the box spring. In the case of a queen size bed, the outside dimensions are approximately 60"x80". Therefore, you will need six 2x4 pieces cut to 60" in length. In addition to this, ten more 2x4 pieces cut to about 14".
Construct two ladder sections consisting of two 60" pieces and three 14" 'rungs'. One rung on each end, and a third centred in the middle. Construct a third ladder that uses four rungs, again with one rung on each end and the other two evenly spaced (ie. at 20" and 40"). This third ladder is going to be the foot of the bed, where the extra rung helps support the overhang.
The classic "glue and screw" method works well here: simply run a thick bead of glue along the end of the 14" rung, position it, and drive in two 3" screws to pull the pieces of wood together. The ladder sections should be reasonably square.
Step 3: Head and Foot Bed Rails
The bed rail serves to keep the box spring from sliding around, and provides a nice finish free of visible fasteners. In this step we'll attach the rails to the head and foot of the bed.
Cut two 2x6 pieces of lumber to 60" in length. One of these should be glued and screwed to one of the three-rung ladders, and the other to the four-rung ladder. WATCH OUT!! Drive the screws from the INSIDE of the ladder, so that the screw heads will be hidden. Also be sure to use 2.5" long screws here, so that there's less chance of the screw point breaching the far side.
Step 4: Side Rails
This is probably the trickiest and most time-consuming part of the build. Here we're going to drill and attach the side rails of the bed. The side rails basically hold everything together, but do so in a way that can be disassembled!
This is accomplished by using dowel pins. The dowels both align the various pieces and serve as structural support. Fortunately, they're one of the easier joinery techniques. A hole is drilled in one piece of the joint, a dowel centring plug is inserted, and the second piece is pressed against the first. The dowel centre presses an impression not the second piece of wood, which can then be used as a drill guide.
On the head and foot ladder sections, drill two dowel holes into the end of each 2x6, and one dowel hole into the end of each 2x4. The holes should be about half the length of the dowel pin. I recommend using a drill guide for this, so that the resulting hole is as perpendicular to the surface of the wood as possible.
The side rails are each about 83" long 2x6 lumber (80" for the box spring plus 1.5" on each end to overlap the head and foot rails).
Very carefully align the ladder sections with the side rail, and using the dowel centres transfer the hole positions over to the side rails. My kit of centres only had two of the 1/2" size, so I had to work in pairs. With the hole positions marked, drill the dowel holes. Be sure to limit the depth of the holes made on the side rails! I like to use a piece of masking tape to mark the depth right on the drill bit. Do this for both side rails.
The dowel pins may now be inserted into the ladder sections. Squeeze some glue into the hole then press in the dowel. Be sure to clean up any glue that squeezes out of the hole. Then, line up the side rails with the dowels and fit them together. Naturally, you don't want to put any glue onto the side rail hole, or it will be impossible to disassemble the frame!
Finish the job by driving 2.5" screws from the insides of the ladder sections to the side rails.
Step 5: Build the Platform
The bed frame rests on an elevated platform. The platform is made of two stout 66" long 2x10s, and some 2x6 lumber to tie them together. The length of those 2x6 pieces will depend on the size of the bed. On a queen bed they're about 24" long. Too long and the lumber will be too visible from the side. Too short and the bed will be tippy.
As before, glue and screw the lumber to form a nice, simple rectangle.
Step 6: Attach the Frame to the Platform
The frame is attached to the platform by screwing them together at four points.
Set the frame on top of the platform, so that "head" end of the platform is flush with the outside face of the "head" rail. The majority of one beam of the "foot" ladder should align with the other end of the platform. Left-right centre the frame on the platform.
There's no way our 3" screws will be long enough to fasten through the frame rails to the platform, so we'll need to counterbore the holes. Using the 1/2" bit, drill a 2-2.5" deep hole in 4 or 6 locations. Then, drive a 3" screw into each.
Step 7: Build the Headboard
You could attach nearly any headboard to this bed. In order to maintain the aesthetic of the design, I chose a simple stack of spaced-out 2x6 boards.
Start by fastening the headboard vertical supports to the bed frame. The length of the vertical support will depend on how tall you want the headboard to be. Four 2.5" screws per vertical support is enough. As you can see in the pictures, I attached them to both the frame and the platform, right down to the ground.
The horizontal sections are made up of three 63" long 2x6 pieces, spaced 3" apart. I used some scrap wood as a spacer: simply place the spacer, set the horizontal board on top, then screw it in place with 2.5" screws. As you may have guessed, drive the screws in from behind so they won't be visible. Then stack the next horizontal piece on top and repeat!
Step 8: Finishing
Once assembled, the entire frame can be sanded with an electric sander. I also used a placer to add a chamfer to any edge that would likely be stepped on or touched frequently. You may choose to leave it as-is, or round the corner.
I left the wood of my bed "natural" and unfinished. By all means, paint or stain the wood to your liking!
Step 9: Add the Rope Light
Being so close to Christmas, it was easy to find a section of LED rope light!
Using wire clips (the type used to fasten electrical wiring to wood studs), run the rope light around the circumference of the platform, as high up as possible.
I have my rope light connected to a timer, so it turns on and off automatically each day.
Step 10: Disassembly/Assembly
As I mentioned in the intro step, this bed is designed to be easily disassembled and moved.
- If necessary, remove the mattress and box spring. Unplug the rope light.
- If not already done, mark joint locations using letters or numbers to make reassembly easier.
- Remove the headboard by loosening the eight screws that secure it to the frame and platform
- Remove the remaining screws that attach the frame to the platform.
- Remove the screws that attach the ladder sections to the side rails.
- Slide the side rails off.