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How To Make A Fold out Sofa/Futon/Bed Frame

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I enjoy relaxing on a sofa and in my bed, and so it may come as no surprise that I would wish to combine the two. After searching Ikea and several other shops, I found the average price for a "tri-fold" futon was in the region of 120GBP ($150). I found this pretty steep for what is basically some planks of pine and a mattress.

So I decided to make my own.

Let me make this clear before I begin: This Instructable is only how to build the frame. I have not yet worked out how I will make the mattress or if I will attempt to buy one, but in the instructables spirit if anyone has any suggestions, suggest away.

This futon folds in three sections to give a comfortably wide (4ft) and long (6ft-ish) bed that could sleep two (if proximity is not an issue!). When it is folded up it forms a sofa that is close to the ground and has an open angle (about 100 degrees) which I find very comfortable to sit on.

I am not a carpenter, crafstman or a great DIY-er, I didn't even take wood tech in school, so this instructable is very accessable. So get up off your computer and turn that empty space in your bedroom or living room into a versatile piece of furniture! If I can do it, so can you!
 
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HollyMann12 months ago
Awesome and useful instructable! If I were you I would submit this to a contest! :) Great job!!!!
VVBoredGuy (author)  HollyMann12 months ago
unfortunately because I made it so long ago it isn't eligible for any! glad you enjoyed it though
Sorry, but i am very confused on how to assemble this futon. What piece goes where? I am trying to make a detailed plan for my wood shop teacher and i can't draw the plan if i don't know how to assemble the pieces.
VVBoredGuy (author)  zacharylaporte2 years ago
I have added an extra diagram to the assembly step that should explain further which piece goes where.

With regards to your comment:

"Which support pieces are the 770x70, 700x70 &690x70? Ex.- Which one of these are the middle supports?"

See step 7. That should explain it.
Which support pieces are the 770x70, 700x70 &690x70? Ex.- Which one of these are the middle supports?
If you clamp two or three boards together, you could use an electric sander to finish the edges of them. I would still smooth the sharp edges down, because they could cut through the fabric cover of the mattress. It wouldn't take much to soften them.

As for making it higher off the ground, that could be accomplished by using wider boards for the support pieces, maybe.
VVBoredGuy (author)  whisperonthewind2 years ago
yes, i think the folding mechanism would still work properly if you increased the width of the planks, that's a good idea
oolala1703 years ago
how do you put it together
VVBoredGuy (author)  oolala1703 years ago
have a look at the bottom of step 7, that tells you which piece goes where
coldbear3 years ago
For the mattress check upholsterers. Not for the bedding itself (though you might get lucky, but they can let you know who supplies their foam. Strangely enough I've found foam suppliers across the US this way and they do not advertise. The prices from the foam distributors / manufacturers are astonishingly low, and you can get it cut the way you want.
VVBoredGuy (author)  coldbear3 years ago
I got lucky at a local recycling centre! Found a futon mattress in good condition, just the right dimensions. I gave it a quick clean and made a cover for it out of nice, red, strong material (cost about £15). It looks very stylish in my room.

Please don't stop suggesting ideas about DIY mattresses though! One, I'm interested and two, the instructables community at large won't all get as lucky as I did.
steptrig3 years ago
Awesome Instruct! For the futon, how about king size pillows sewn together then covered with heavy fabric? the divisions between pillows would make the tufting points easy to sew. You could also cover the pillows with batting or blankets for a more substantial seat. Or sleeping bags, or old comforters, or... This could be a great recycled project for all those old bedding bits and pieces.
VVBoredGuy (author)  steptrig3 years ago
good idea, I could probably pick some old pillows up at a recycling dump or charity shop. the batting would help smooth it out aswell seeing as it serves as a mattress as well. and yes heavy fabric is a must i think
johnnyfftt1 year ago
i just want to tell you that I love this instructable. I consider myself pretty resourceful and mechanically inclined, the simplicity of this design makes it also very compatible with any type of decorating whether it be modern, country, or traditional, etc.

I will be making this within the week and hopefully I will have a good image to post up here as another "idea" for the community to consider.
magnia2 years ago
Excellent job, really well explained and inspiring for anyone to have a go.

For the mattress, I think there are a number of ways you can go about this and I have some suggestions..

There's always cheap second hand futons forsale on eBay and you can pick up one usually for around £20 and just have the mattress or just the cover delivered if you can't collect the whole thing...new ones cost around £55-£80 on eBay.

One idea suggested to me by a futon manufacturer was to find a local foam supplier and get them to cut you a sheet of foam to the right dimensions...then you can buy some fabric off the roll from a local supplier and take it to a local seamstress to turn into a cover for your foam, unless your mrs is handy with a sewing machine ;-) You could cover the foam with a cheap mattress topper or wrap an old duvet over it for extra softness and comfort... perhaps you could even use the duvet cover if you can find one suitable to take the foam and duvet itself.
*Very* cool idea, I'm planning to make something similar for stealth-van conversion. I has seen a pull out version, but I think I like this better, or perhaps a combination of the two- where the back piece could double as the headboard of the bed.

As for a mattress- have you considered buying a futon cover, or heavy fabric cover, filling it with one or two breathable laundry bags filled with long-term clothes storage? That's what I'm considering, in order to double up on storage space. Lemme know what you think.
SIRJAMES092 years ago
AWESOME SIR!!!

TY for sharing. B0)
SIRJAMES092 years ago
Here in America, at the lumber yards, you can buy ready made legs for different projects & they(usually) Come in a wide variety of sizes...both length & thicknesses. Some even have a notch cut in them when you buy them to make it easier to attach to your project. Never been to GB so I have no idea what's available.
SIRJAMES092 years ago
I agree totally!

No project, no matter how important it may be, no project is worth getting injured/killed over.
SIRJAMES092 years ago
now, I'm no tailor by ANY stretch of the imagination, but I would think that a mattress could be made with about 3 or 4 pieces of fabric.

As I said, I am not a tailor by ANY stretch of the imagination.

The type of material needs to be something that will last many years; something that will NOT get snagged on the wood(or anything else) very easily; yet be comfortable to the touch.

Have 2 pieces about 6-8 CM wider than the frame & about 6 - 8 CM longer than the frame.

1 piece that is about 5 - 6 CM wide & long enough to go all the way around the first 2 pieces(picture a mattress in your head).

The extra 6 CM or so of fabric is what you will need to sew all the material together....

Make certain you leave an opening so that you can fill the mattress with whatever kind of stuffing you decide(be it polyester, down or some other feather, etc)
Make sure you over stuff it otherwise you will have a flat & very uncomfortable mattress in a very short time.

This is but 1 way to make a mattress, & it will be a whole lot cheaper making one than buying one.
Another thought: you could make storage boxes - maybe out of 1/2" plywood - and use them as supports as a base. Add a couple to use as a coffee table with a removable top, and you could put those under the back of the futon to raise up the whole "bed" when in use. I'm not sure if this would support rowdy activity, but it would continue the whole mobile, portable idea, and the storage boxes could be used to pack stuff in when you move. If you move. What am I saying, of course you're going to move! Otherwise, you wouldn't need a mobile, portable sofa/bed thing.

If I didn't have so many projects going on, I'd be building one of these myself. I have a metal futon which is very comfortable, but I'd like to have one that could double as a chair, so that I could choose which one to sleep on. Also, the futon could go to the bedroom, but the chair could stay in the livingroom. Maybe I'll build two...
I haven't had the time to read all the comments so i don't know if this was already posted, but maybe a big rectangular bean bag would work as a mattress. they are many instructables on making big bean bags
vijaynaru2 years ago
Is there any possiblity if you can provide the photo or video of assembled frame in showing working before putting 12 Longest Planks on it. This part is missing from your tutorial.
bkuchars3 years ago
Have you thought of adding feet to this to raise it off the ground a little bit. That seems to be the only thing different on store bought frames. Just wondering how the height off the floor is.
VVBoredGuy (author)  bkuchars3 years ago
also, check out celticcrush97's comments, they're along a similar line
VVBoredGuy (author)  bkuchars3 years ago
well it is slightly raised because of the thickness of the planks, it's about 9cm without a mattress but with my mattress on it, it ends up at about almost a foot off the ground. i'm not sure how you would go about adding feet because it would affect the folding mechanism, but there is probably a way around it, i'll have a think.
oolala1703 years ago
thanks
kraggle3 years ago
I've checked out some easy ways to make the futon cushion but the best way seems to be too close to a price of what a pre-made cushion would cost, might just as well buy one.... and I also have a question and comment.... Comment: I love this instructable, this is what I've been trying to find for over a year.... Question: Can you put this into the standard measuring system and not metric, I'm American and we haven't converted over to metric like the rest of the world....that wasn't supposed to be read as insulting.... sorry if it did...
VVBoredGuy (author)  kraggle3 years ago
as soon as i have time i will, but i have a lot of work going on at the moment, sorry. also, where would you buy a pre made cushion? are there places that sell just cushions?
If it is too much work to switch the measurements, which I believe it will be off by a bit because of all the decimals, don't worry about it, I don't mind using the metric system. As for the cushions, you can either just google futon mattress, use amazon.com, walmart, or several other online shopping sites. If you live in a country other then the USA, which I am guessing you do (not trying to be rude here) then I am not sure if these sites will work, they should though so give it a shot. All you have to do is just type what you want into the search bar and just wander around the interwebs to figure it out... I will post another comment if I found a futon mattress/cushion but if you find one just make sure you look at the details on the page and make sure it is the write size, I'm pretty sure you already knew that...
kraggle kraggle3 years ago
http://www.walmart.com/ip/8-Full-Size-Futon-Mattress-Navy/10247114 or http://www.walmart.com/ip/Quilted-Top-Bunk-Mattress-Twin/10247115?findingMethod=rr are two good options, you'd be looking for a "full size" mattress, that might go a little over the width of the frame but it doesn't seem too bad for the dimensions, you could always cut them down if you wished...
I'll do some extensive searching to find the best price for both you and me, it does take a while because a lot of the prices are a bit high since they use some expensive materials.
Also in couch form as well
VVBoredGuy (author)  celticrush973 years ago
the same distance, about 9cm. although with my mattress it is about half a foot
Thats pretty low to the ground. Any ideas to make it taller?
VVBoredGuy (author)  celticrush973 years ago
short of redesigning the folding mechanism, no, although it may be possible to create some sort of extendable platform for the futon to rest on, perhaops with rails or rollers
About how high is the bed from the ground when in bed form?
Andrey56783 years ago
capricorn3 years ago
This is an awesome project, oustandingly documented as well.

Thanks for sharing mate :)
Chrislee3 years ago
Excellent !, for the futon and the pillow idea. Don't forget to steam the used
bedding to evict all bed buggers and the like. Thank you Thank you !!
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