Introduction: Hybrid Pipe Bed

Picture of Hybrid Pipe Bed

Hi All,

First off, thank you for the creators of the Pipe Dream and Aluminum Pipe beds for my inspiration.  I decided I wanted to do something like them but make it a hybrid.  It has taken a lot of elbow grease, many wandering visits to Home Depot, numerous phone calls and tons of frustration.

Background: My original idea was to use aluminum pipes to create a frame large enough for a queen but use crossover slip-on pipe fittings so that I can easily adjust and take it apart whenever I want since I move a lot.  I wanted the head legs to be longer than the tail legs and the base to be a couple of inches longer and wider than my bed.  I really wanted to avoid Home Depot at all costs but I couldn't find a place that sold aluminum pipes.  The total cost ended up being around $400 for the Kee Lite fittings, $100 for the EMT pipes, $20 for the leg caps, $30? for the wood slats.  I have practically no proper tools and live in a teeny studio so I was as restricted in doing a lot of things I really wanted to do.  I also planned this project horribly because of my impatience among other things.

Step 1: Prep Work

Galvanized pipe was out of the question for me as it was too heavy for a wooden floor so I ended up using EMT pipe at Home Depot after hunting around everywhere for aluminum.  Unfortunately, I didn't know that EMT pipe does not have the same outer dimension (OD) as galvanized pipe before I bought the speedrailers.  I wasn't too worried about it supporting me as I am slim for my size and I am using a 12" memory foam bed from Walmart.

I used a multi-tool and allen wrench. 

I would recommend a leveler, tape measure and a helper.

Step 2: Speedrails

Picture of Speedrails

I used DenVogel's aluminum bed suggestion and bought Kee-Lite fittings (also not available locally) from Simplified Building Concepts.  I couldn't find anything cheaper.  You can also try Hollaender speedrails. 

I went with 18 L45s (I left one out of the pic) because I wanted the pipes to stick out the ends.  Yes, that means twice the price when I could've just bought some elbows but I wanted the look. 

I also bought 5 flanges (one extra for the middle), a regular 35 Kee Klamp for the middle, and I have no idea what they are called but 4 tops for the four legs at Home Depot in the electrical section.  The three socket cross was extra support for the middle where I am planning to stick a vertical pipe through so my bed won't sag.

BTW, you can't really tell but if you look at the 35 versus the L45s, the Lites do look a lot better than the regulars.

Step 3: Pipes

Picture of Pipes

This is where everything went wrong.  I couldn't find Aluminum until the day after I bought these 9 EMT 1-1/4" pipes.  I suggest just doing a search for "aluminum pipes" if you want to find a manufacturer.  I actually found a place but I totally forgot about it because I got frustrated.  I also didn't plan the measurements very well because numbers confuse me  You can also try using fencing posts which Home Depot also sells.

I ended up with these at Home Depot and I didn't even use them all.  They sell them by 10' pipes and if you find someone nice (good luck.  Tip, use yelp to find a good location), they will cut it for you.  Beware, they are a lot thinner than galvanized pipe but look so much nicer.  So I went cheap (bad idea) and shrunk my 4 length-wise pipes so I can use the leftover as my end legs.  The other 5 were just cut in half.  I fit everything into my FIT which was one good thing.

After many back and forths, questions and wandering around Home Depot I ended up using the 1-1/4" clear tubing as a spacer to make the EMT pipe actually have an OD of 1-1/4" to fit the slip-on fittings.  Lost yet?  I did find EMT couplers to make the pipes 1-1/4" but they were expensive and I would've had to cut them and glue them to the pipe.

4 - 80" (used 3 for length)
10 - 60" (used 6 for width, 2 for head legs)
4 - 40" (used 2 for the tail legs)

Step 4: Elbow Grease

Picture of Elbow Grease

After many hours of elbow grease I got this headboard and tailboard assembled.  I took the plastic tubing and cut it lengthwise to fit inside the slip-on fittings.  Then I split it open and cut about 1/4 of it off otherwise it wouldn't fit around the pipe.  I wrapped the tubing around the pipe and basically forced it through the slip-on fittings.  Every.  Single.  One.  Not a great idea in the long run but I didn't feel like going out again to a plumbing store to find something better.  There's apparently tape that can do that.  I was also hoping to find rubber tubing that would be a spacer.

The headboard is all 60" pipes.  Don't ask me what the measurements were, I just randomly put them on.  Notice the bottom pipe has a speed rail in the middle.  This is for the 80" pipe to go through and provide support for the wooden slats.

The tailboard legs are 40" and 60".  Again with a slip-on fitting in the middle for the 80" pipe.  Note that the bottom slip-on fittings are wrong.  I had to yank, disassemble, and switch the legs.  Too tired to re-photograph.

Step 5: The Frame

Picture of The Frame

This picture is to show the 80" lengths attached.  Hopefully it is a little clearer now.  I may eventually get a little pipe to go through that middle slip-on fitting to the floor to provide an additional column of support and two width-wise to connect to the other 80".  Also bad planning, that middle length should actually be a few inches longer because I didn't take into account the way the cross-over slip-on fittings add extra inches because they are on different planes.  Just look at the bottom pipe of the tail and you'll see what I mean.  That middle pipe isn't actually going all the way through the slip-on fittings.

Step 6: Almost There

Picture of Almost There

I bought 10 12" length 1x4 and they were supposed to be cut at 5-1/4" lengths.  But of course if you get paid minimum wage it's hard to understand that so some will be longer than others.  I went with this because I wanted the ability to expand or contract the gaps to let through air since I have a memory foam bed and it can get hot during the summer.  Also went with 12" because I can get two slats out of them for one. 

They actually don't lie flat because the middle pipe is millimeters higher than the two on the outside.  Again, too tired to fix it because basically it would require more sweating and a hammer.  Also the middle slip-on fitting is higher so I just placed the slats around it.  I may eventually do something to secure them in place because they are perilously looming on the edge.  But it's ok because I have the middle pipe for extra support.

BTW, that map on the wall is to document all my travels.  I have an America and Europe one on the left. 

Step 7: Yay! Finally! Finishing Touches

Picture of Yay!  Finally!  Finishing Touches

I readjusted the vertical position of the width pipes on the tailboard to make it match the height of my bed.  Also realized I had two extra slip-on fittings so I added another width pipe. 

To add protection, I took my extra plastic tubing, cut it to the length of my flange, split it down the middle, splayed it flat, cut it to fit the radius and put it under my flanges.  Also had to add another little strip to fully cover the flange.  Hopefully it'll keep the bed from moving around.

I added the tops to the legs to make it look a little nicer.  They just screwed on.  Wow, one thing that actually fit correctly!  I actually got lucky because when the pipe was cut, it created a thread on the tip of the pipe.

I tried to make everything straight and then tightened it.  It does move around a bit when I force it but it seems to be holding.

I was limited by time, money, living on the third floor with wooden floors so I couldn't make a lot of noise, lack of knowledge and lack of patience.  I also didn't have any help except this website.  A tape measure would've been nice though. 

I will probably upgrade this next year to longer aluminum pipes to make it look more like it's on a platform (it's only about an inch out) but thinking of taking this thing apart is already making me depressed.  At least now I know what I want because I can visually see it and make measurements.  Also trying to figure out what I want to do with the headboard.  I was thinking of adding two pipes to create an "X".  Will also probably add some led lights to the bottom.

So basically this instructable sucks and I wouldn't recommend you follow it.  But hopefully it'll inspire other ideas as the other two beds inspired me.  Anybody brave enough to try using scaffolding or fencing pipes ? 


Nedjamin (author)2014-11-06

I think your perspective on minor failures, re-doing the work and your overall plight is very funny...but I'm not trying to make fun of you. I think the project looks cool and you did a great job with limited materials/experience/patience/space, take your pick. Nice job! I need a queen frame too and I'm going to try this. But with a tape measure. Haha! Thanks for posting this.

Echinda21 (author)2014-01-15

do you need a box spring for this bed desing

jtwanderlust (author)Echinda212014-01-16

No, you just need the wooden slats. A box spring would make things more secure and easier though.

Echinda21 (author)jtwanderlust2014-01-17


bandidusky (author)2011-12-27

Hi, has anyone built with these pipes any pipe furniture in Australia? I mean I have gone to many hardware stores in Melbourne and couldn't find them. Next I guess is trying builders scaffolding specialist' but they seem to use steel instead !@#$%^& America seems to supply they stores so much better.

pyromonkey (author)2011-11-18

I have been wanting one of these beds ever since I saw one on display at the store Antropologie!! Now with your instructable I can make one XD Thanks

grannyideas (author)2010-03-01

 I have done a similar frame using pvc pipe--you know, the off-white plastic pipe that's light weight and easy to cut.  The only difference is that pvc pipe is more flexible, so you have to add more support on long lengths of it, or else it will bend at places that you don't want it to.  Using the plastic stuff makes it much easier to carry when I move....

fip (author)grannyideas2011-06-18

Thank you so much for this comment, grannyideas!
I have been looking at these pipe beds all over the net, and they are all aluminum. I was wondering if anyone had used PVC. Not only is it lighter, its much cheaper.

tomtom4388 (author)2010-03-14

I like the idea, you might be able to use small rope
Even with very smooth material (tubes) and fine, smooth rope, a good knot can achieve a not-slipping connection.

JesusFreke (author)tomtom43882011-05-30

Ooo, I really like that idea. *adds trick to mental toolbox*

just1rick (author)2011-04-07

Very Cool

Ashraf F Nassar (author)2011-03-22

Good Design .

bunglesmate (author)2010-10-18

Good effort. You should keep some gaps in the slats underneath the mattress to allow some air flow or else it could get a bit mouldy. Just think how much moisture your body lets go of in the night and it will sink to the bottom. As previously mentioned in other comments, slats can be stabilised using strips of fabric stapled on the bottom.

regisd (author)2010-08-27

Very nice! If you want a smaller pipe that's still strong, you could go for something with a slightly smaller outside diameter but thicker walls like IMC (a heavier-walled steel electrical conduit available at electrical supply houses).

Nostalgic Guy (author)2010-08-27

I love it, it reminds me of a loft bed a friend of mine had years ago in his first flat. I always wanted one just like it, unfortunatly I don't think my other half will let me replace her beloved iron frame with scrolls & vines with one like yours but I guess I could always ask ;-)

freaknerd (author)2010-03-05

This whole instructable is great! I was wondering however... Do the wooden slats move? Are they just laying on the pipes or are they fixed... I tend to move alot and have kids that would jump on the bed... I am curious if realigning and picking up the slats often would be a prolem?

jtwanderlust (author)freaknerd2010-03-05

Thanks!  The slats do move, they're just laying on the pipes.  Because I have the middle pipe, it helps keep the slats in place but I haven't tried jumping up and down on it either.  They are easy to adjust as long as you have someone holding up the bed or you can just take the bed off and readjust which is why I wanted them this way.  If you're worried about that, you may want to try thicker slabs or larger ones.  Or tie them together with rope or something.

shodder3 (author)jtwanderlust2010-05-21

Just use pvc clamps to secure 2x4s to the poles (or screw them in if you have time). then screw the slats into the 2x4s and tada, sex catastrophe averted.

maven (author)jtwanderlust2010-05-01

The slats of my sons' bunkbeds are tied together by stapling 2 lengths of twill tape stapled about 3 inches from each end  the full length of the bed.  It kinda looks like a rope ladder, but it really keeps them in place.

Jabroney (author)jtwanderlust2010-03-06

 A couple strips of fabric scraps and a staple gun will work wonderfully for securing the slats to each other. I used a pair of old denim jeans cut into strips and stapled to the bottom for a wooden bed I built for my son. I would imagine you could also wrap around the frame and secure with the strips too,

Dr.Bill (author)Jabroney2010-03-09

How about just run screws through the wood into the pipe? Or even roofing nails through the wood into holes in the pipe.
They don't have to hold down just hold in place.
Very good ible.

MitoKafander (author)2010-04-15

Probably makes a lot of noise. Not good when you don't want anyone to hear:D

Smaridge01 (author)2010-04-04

Kudos for persisting and getting this bed made! It IS really cool, and yes, it IS inspiring! Thanks for going through the trouble to post it for us.

foothillfrontier (author)2010-03-22

That is awesome! I have another option for securing the pipe in the slip on fittings. This would of course also include the proper tools and more work, but could definitely make things a little easier in the long run. My suggestion for anyone else doing this would be to instead of getting the plastic pipe, use some set screws and drill a hole and tap it out wherever you wanted to put it on the fitting. You could use the kind that have a point on the end and prevent it from turning, or you could simply drill through both pieces of pipe and fitting and use the screw to go all the way into the pipe and fitting and lock it into place.

sharkh2o (author)2010-03-06

Beautiful job!  That thing will last forever :)

klixtopher (author)2010-03-04

Nice work.  If you're still wondering; the four "tops" you picked up at the Depot are Rain Tight EMT connectors.  If you'd installed them 'right way round' you could use the threaded end to mount some sort of finial.  If you wanna get real crazy, you could even mount lights on the four corners, just use the EMT for it's intended purpose.  Again, nicely done.

jtwanderlust (author)klixtopher2010-03-05

Cool idea.  They are actually threaded if I take the caps off.  Hmm, now what to put on it?  Thanks.

klixtopher (author)jtwanderlust2010-03-06

Not sure if we're saying the same thing. The 'caps' are intended to clamp down the compression ring onto the pipe.  It's hard to tell from the pic but I think you probably bought connectors for smaller sized EMT.  The idea is that the EMT slides into the open end leaving the threaded male end to enter a standard electrical box (fastened by a lock ring).  Here's a link to a pic of a coupling (as opposed to a connector) to give you a better idea.

jongscx (author)2010-03-01

So the bed frame alone cost around ~$550?  wow...

MacgyverGrrl (author)jongscx2010-03-04

Yeah, on the above comment.  :-(  While I understand that sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, sometimes even to "best" the materials or the project, you could have had a whole, iron bed for less.  (Brass Bed Factory Direct, or something like that) The expense alone is making me sad, on your behalf. But I'm glad that you won and have a bed!
(Not that I'm one to talk, having attempted to glue silk to newspaper: I, too, "coulda had a dress for less".)

I guess I'm paying the extra money just to brag that I built it with my own hands.

spyderman22 (author)2010-03-04

 Hey, I was looking around and found a cheaper place to buy the slip on pipe fitting but they are iron instead of aluminum. About 225 bucks before shipping and taxes. i hope this helps.

jtwanderlust (author)spyderman222010-03-05

Thanks for the link.  I decided to pay more for the non-galvanized look but it definitely is another affordable option.  You can also go with regular Kee clamps.  Not sure how much they would cost.

Echo88 (author)2010-03-05

Hi,I'm a chinese, that's really a good job,but i think if you still want it be adjusted,cheap and portable,why not try the air-bed or water-bed?That will be more easy and comfortable.

jtwanderlust (author)Echo882010-03-05

I've tried the airbed before.  It's good for a few months but I wanted this look,  something more permanent, and not something I have to pump every few weeks.

elo_sud (author)2010-03-05

Muchas gracias por la idea.He querido hacer una de madera pero ésta es mucho mejor.En resistencia y elegancia.
Desde México.

jdege (author)2010-02-28

I find I learn a lot more by reading accounts of what went wrong, than by reading instructables that pretend that everything went together perfectly.

sysadmn (author)jdege2010-03-05

Exactly!  Your Instructable doesn't suck because you made mistakes, it's great because you documented your mistakes (and what went right!)

Good Job!

killerjackalope (author)jdege2010-03-01

Though when something does go perfectly it's great...

porcupinemamma (author)2010-03-05

Very cool indeed!

frankboase (author)2010-03-04

A heroic effort is the phase that comes to mind. Here in Malaysia we would keave a space between the boards to allow the mattress to breathe.

killerjackalope (author)2010-03-01

I actually want to make a bed out of scaffolding, mainly because it would be pretty cool and pretty invincible...

Nice job overall, looks like it's at a nice height too...

colinj (author)killerjackalope2010-03-04

 With scaffolding you'd have an instant four-poster.

killerjackalope (author)colinj2010-03-04

Aye, there might be enough in the basement, I think there's some down there... 

jtwanderlust (author)2010-03-02

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all the comments.  I didn't think this project was going to get so much attention else I would've actually made it correctly.  @jongscx, yes it is expensive but again, you can almost halve the cost if you just use elbows and tees, use plastic ends and DD for scrap wood.  @grannyideas, I really wanted the metallic look instead of PVC.  There is also hard black PVC pipe at Home Depot you can try.  @jdege, yeah hopefully people get that this is more of a "what not to do" instructable.  @killerjackalope, do it!  @ l8nite, actually so far it's working out because the middle bar is preventing the slats from moving around.  @jacko backo, they're really comfy  =)

R u kidding?  That is a sweet pipe bed!!  It really caught my eye!

Vailhem (author)2010-03-04

 a little too industrial for my taste but... I like the map of southeast asia in the background

winkman (author)2010-03-01

That is cool, great idea, and it makes perfect sense :) thanks for the ible

l8nite (author)2010-03-01

Nicely done !  I think the center support is probably over kill, especially with all the planking you used, so if it creates an uneven base... get rid of it, or attach it to the side rails. Scrap carpet or felt on the bottoms of the flanges will protect the follor and make it easier to slide the bed (when needed)

jacko backo (author)2010-02-28

Lol, I like the Homer Slippers. :1

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