I am not a carpenter. I own enough tools to get through basic projects, and have just enough know-how on how to do it. I did make some mistakes during this process that I will point out for you so that you may avoid them.
What I set out to create was a queen sized bed frame that was durable and looked nice.
I made this frame at the request of my brother, as gift for him, so there were a couple of things to keep in mind.
The bed had to look nice, but more importantly it had to be very durable.
With these simple instructions I set out to make a bed capable of handling anything a 6'5" , 220lb single man could throw at it.
This is how it all went down.
Step 1: Materials
You could make this frame at a much lower cost if you recycle materials, or simply chose different ones.
All the materials can be purchased in your local Home Depot. If there is a lumberyard near you you may be able to get a better price.
This is what I used and what I paid at Home Depot.
4' x 8' Sheet of 3/4" Oak plywood (veneer core) -- Two sheets' -- $75/sheet
One sheet will make the two sides and foot board. The second sheet will be used for the headboard.
You will have a decent amount of material left over for use in another project. Alternately, you could buy slightly smaller sheets. I could not find smaller ones in my area.
Particle boards are a bit cheaper, as are other wood types. You could also look for boards that are only veneered on one side rather than both. They tend to be cheaper. Unfortunately I couldn't find any.
2" x 4" x 8' construction lumber -- 6 pieces -- $2/piece
Your plain 2x4 used to make the structural frame of the bed.
1" L bracket (outside corner) oak molding -- approximately 35 feet -- $1.60/foot
I opted for molding to cover the unfinished edges over a glue-on veneer. Oak was chosen to match the look of the rest of the oak. I also felt that a nice border would improve the overall appearance of the bed.
You could use glue on veneer for a fraction of the price. You could also use composite molding rather than oak to lower the cost.
6 hex bolts 1/4" x 4" + 6 matching nuts + 12 matching washers -- $7
The bolts will be used to hold the frame together and allow it to be taken apart again.
Box of 1 3/4" wood screws - 100 pack -- $6
You will not need nearly as many screws as that, and may already have them laying around. I did not have the size I needed so I had to buy them.
A can of wood stain of your choice and a can of polyurethane
You can buy a 2in1 product as well. I was making this bed a two tone color so I opted to buy 2 stains and a separate polyurethane. If you have enough stain laying around from another project you'll save a few bucks.
Ok....I admit to cheating a bit here. I went to IKEA and purchased the slats for $60 dollars. I decided that buying the pre-cut, pre-bound slats would be simpler than cutting a ton of slats myself. This also allowed them to be easily pulled out when moving the bed. One could easily cut these out and affix them to the frame permanently, or bind them together.
1/2 inch dowel - 3' long -- $2
Will help hold things together
That's it for the materials
Step 2: Tools
When using tools always practice safety. Use proper techniques, or allow someone to help you. Most importantly, wear safety goggles and mind your fingers.
You will need:
- 1/4" drill bit
- 1/2" drill bit
- 1" drill bit
- countersink bit
Step 3: The Cuts
See if you can get the wood cut at the store.
I own a table saw but figured it would be easier to get as many cuts as possible made at the store. This also made fitting everything into a Corolla much easier.
My local store makes the first 2 cuts for free, then charges $1 per cut after that. Because I was buying 7 different pieces of wood I was set for 14 free cuts. I was going to make use of them.
Keep in mind that the employees are not necessarily too concerned with the accuracy, but will take the time to do it right if you ask them to. You will still want to be close by to make sure.
Have them cut one of the panels into 15" strips. This will give you 3 pieces of 15" x 8'.
Trim 2 of those pieces to a length of 81 inches. These are your 2 sides.
Trim the third to 62 1/2 inches. This is your foot board.
Hold on to the left-over scraps.
Cut the second board length wise at 3'. This will give you a piece that is 3' x 8' and a left over piece of 1' x8'.
Put aside the left-over and trim the other piece to a width of 62 1/2 inches. This is your head board.
Again, keep the left-over piece.
Now have them trim the 2X4 's for you as well. You will want to trim two of them to the length of 61 inches, and three of them to the length of 81 inches.
Keep your scraps. The sixth beam does not need to be cut by them.
You should now be able to fit all of this into any sedan and head home to get to work.
Step 4: Prep and Cut 2x4s
I used a 3 1'4" planer for this.
I have found this planer to be a great and inexpensive tool to own. The Canadians on here can pick one up for $50 on sale at Canadian Tire. I'm sure our neighbors down south can find these at any local tool store as well.
Either way, you will want to plane, or sand these down to a smoother finish.
This will ensure that your slats will sit evenly on the edge of the 2X4, and that the 2X4 will sit more flush against the plywood sheet.
Once you've flattened out your 2X4's you can mark and cut them.
Take the 3 pieces that are 81 inches long and cut some "L" shapes into the end of them.
You will want to make the cut 1 1/2 inches in from the edge, and half the width of the board.
In other words make a cut that is 1 1/2 X 1 3/4 inches on each end of the board.
Look at pic2. Cut out the shaded area.
The 2X4 is not exactly 2 inches by 4 inches. It's true dimensions are more like 1 1/2 X 3 1/2. This is why you are cutting out the 1/ 1/2 inch to accommodate the width of another board and 1 3/4 to accommodate half the height of another board.
Drill a 1/4" hole in the middle of the "L" you just cut out. (pic 3)
Do this to both ends of all 3 of the longer 2X4's. Remember to make the "L" face the same direction on both ends of the board.
Step 5: Prep the Shorter Boards
Make an identical "L" shaped cut on each end of the 2X4.
Additionally, make a "U" shaped cut in the very middle of the board.
Make sure that the U faces the same direction your L's did.
Find the exact middle of the board and measure 3/4" to either side of the middle. This will give you a U shape cut out that is centered exactly and wide enough to accommodate the width of the other 2X4.
Your cut out board should look like the one in the pic.
Don't forget to drill the very center of the U channel as well as the ends.
Step 6: Fit It All
Simply lay your shorter pieces of 2X4 on the ground with the U facing up, and lay the longer pieces to connect them in a frame. The longer pieces should rest on top of the shorter ones
If you measured everything correctly your holes should line up perfectly. Slip one of the bolts through to test the fit.
At his point you should make sure that your frame is perfectly level across the top. Especially where the pieces of 2X4 are connecting. If you have a small step at the joint, simply take your planer and take some material off the board that sticks out more. The frame should have a nice smooth level surface across the top and bottom.
Once you plane all your boards to a perfect fit, you can also take your 1" drill bit and put a little recess into the long boards to allow the bolt head to sink in. This will keep the top of your frame flat and level.
At this point you may be ready for a break. Take a quick breather.
Step 7: Prepare the Sides
Note that the headboard is slightly different. Most people place the headboard against a wall, so the visible side of the headboard is the inner side.
If you buy panels that are only veneered on one side there is nothing to look for here. Just make sure to turn them the right way.
Decide how deep you want your mattress to sit inside the bed. If you have your mattress handy, measure the thickness and try to decide how much of it you wish to have visible.
I decided to only sink the mattress by 3 inches. This is enough to hold it securely in place, and I was not sure how thick a mattress would be used, so I erred on the side of caution.
Once you make your decision, add 3/4 of an inch to that number to account for the thickness of the slats and mark the foot board, and the sides, measuring from the top. Draw a line along the board on the marks.
The headboard you will have to mark slightly differently since it is much taller. For the headboard, simply take the width of your other boards, subtract the inset, and mark that from the bottom of the headboard. In my case the boards were all 15 inches tall, minus the 3 3/4 inch inset, meant that I had to mark it 11 1/4 inches from the bottom.
You will attach your 2X4 frame to the sides so that the top edge of the frame lies on the line you just marked.
Mark another line about 1 1/2 inches below the line you just marked. This will be the line you will use as a guide for the screws that will hold the 2X4 to the side. The reason I drew the line is so that all the screw heads will be aligned and will look nicer.
I also spaced all my screws out evenly along the line to improve appearance.
Once you mark where you want the screws, drill the pilot holes. Remember to countersink the holes on the outside so that the screw heads can sink flush into the wood.
Put your screws through the holes so that the tips protrude slightly.
Step 8: Frame to Sides
You may want to mark the corners of the frame so that you know which one fits where. Technically it should not matter as they should all be the same...Realistically, it matters. The 2X4s are not perfect and identical. You planed the frame so that it is all flush and even. If you rearrange the beams there is a good chance it'll no longer be flat and even.
Take your two long beams and bring them over to the two long boards. They should all be identical in length (81 inches).
Place your 2X4 so that the top edge is laying flat along the pencil mark you made earlier. Make sure the "L" shapes on the ends are upside down, and the bolt recess you made is facing up. If you turn the beam upside down you will not be able to put the bed together and will have to re-do this step.
Once the beam is properly aligned with the line press down on it slightly so that the screw tips will mark the beam.
This is where picking straight lumber becomes important. If your boards have too much of a warp it will be hard to line them up. A slight warp can be corrected with a bit of force, but there is a limit.
Once the beam is marked drill the pilot holes. These help your screws go in better.
Apply some glue to the beam and place it so it aligns with the screws again and screw it in.
Don't screw each screw in all the way. Screw all of them in evenly. This means that you move from one screw to the next tightening each one more and more until you are done. This will keep all your screws straight and even out the force across the board.
Do the same for the foot and head boards, but with two major differences.
1. The head board and foot board are slightly longer than the corresponding 2X4s. (1 1/2 inch longer)
This difference is there to accommodate the thickness of the wood used for the sides.
When you are aligning the beams up make sure to offset them from the edges by 3/4 of an inch.
2. The "L" and the "U" cutouts should face up and not down like the sides. This way they will fit together.
Step 9: Fit It All Together
If you measured everything carefully, it should fit back together without any issues.
Your frame should still be nice and flat. The sides should fit nice and flush as well.
If the sides are not sitting perfectly flush to each other, you can use your planer to even them out. This is only if they are off by a hair. If the difference in height is big you are better off taking the offending side apart before the glue sets and re-doing it.
It's looking like a bed now!
Step 10: Stay Square
Since your sides are joined high up, the bottom has enough room to swing a bit. You don't want this, so we will make guides on the bottom to keep the frame square and steady.
For the guides I took a piece of 2X4 and cut it into four 4 inch lengths. I then cut the pieces in half. Take a look at pic 1.
I also took a 1/2 inch dowel and cut 4 pieces of it that were about 3 inches long. I filed the ends to be slightly rounder.
Place the two pieces of the 2X4 so that they make a 90 degree angle. Make sure the edges fit flush. Take a look at pic 4.
Take a pencil and mark a line on one piece where the pieces intersect. Then take a straight edge and make an X by connecting the corners. Drill the center with a 1/2 inch bit. Look at pic 5 and 6. This may not be the exact center, but it is close enough. It does not matter really as long as you line it up perfectly with the other piece.
If you look at pic 7 you will see a metal piece that is used to align dowel holes. These can be picked up at any hardware store and come in a pack of various sizes. They are a great tool that helps you keep your holes aligned. You simply place it in one hole and press against the other piece to make a centered mark. Take a look at pic 8.
Once the second piece is marked, drill a matching hole half way through the piece. Pour in some glue and hammer the dowel in. You can now fit the two pieces together. They should still be nice and square with even edges.
Repeat 3 more times. You need a set of these for each corner.
Step 11: Install Bottom Guards
When you are installing them make sure that you put them in such a way that they will act as stoppers to the sides so that they cannot swing in or out.
Place the piece with the dowel on the bottom, and the piece with the hole on top. This way, when you are putting the sides together, you can look down through the hole to line them up.
Screw both pieces in from the outside. Remember to drill pilot holes and to countersink them for the screw heads.
When you are installing the piece with the hole, be sure not to put a screw in a place where it may block the hole.
Step 12: Legs
This served 2 very practical purposes.
1. The edges of the veneered plywood are not very strong. If the bed drags across the floor they will chip. Lifting the bed will protect them slightly.
2. It makes the bed stronger. If you leave the bed as it is, all the weight is carried by the plywood. This should be strong enough to carry it, but I was not going to take any chances. Like I said before, this was a bed for my brother and it had to be able to handle anything a 24 year old, single man, could throw at it.
For the legs, I measured the distance from the bottom of the 2X4.s to the bottom of the sides. I then added a 1/4 inch to it and cut 10 pieces of 2X4 to that length. This gave me 3 legs per side and 2 each for head and foot board.
I also cut 4 more pieces that were 3 inches longer. These made the legs for the middle support.
The 10 pieces I laid out evenly along the sides. 3 each for the long sides and 2 each for the short sides. I laid them flush to the 2X4's so that they would take the weight and glued and screwed them in. I lined the screws up with the previous ones to improve appearance.
For the middle support I did it slightly differently. I took the longer pieces and cut out "U" shaped channels in them. I made sure that the channel bottoms are still the same height as the other pieces.
I then glued and screwed 2 of these pieces together to make one 4X4 leg. This way it would be sturdier and more stable. I then attached the leg to the support beam. The beam received a leg on each end.
I used glue and screws to attach everything together.
A 1/4 inch rise was good enough for me. I know he has hardwood floors so it was enough to keep the edges elevated. If you plan to put it in a carpeted room you could go slightly higher. I'm not sure you'd necessarily have to, but If you do, I'd advise not to raise it too high.
These legs will not be visible at 1/4 inch. They may however become visible if you go higher. They do not look good enough that you'd want them showing.
Step 13: Filler and Stain.
The head should sink a little into the wood rather than being flush with it. This way you have a bit of space to put the filler in.
I opted for "natural" colored wood filler. I knew I would stain the wood later and I had hoped the natural colored filler would take the stain a little better than it did.
Fill the holes with wood filler and allow them to dry. When it dries it should form a little lump that you will sand down smooth. Wait for it to dry fully. I was impatient and did not wait long enough. Sanding wet filler will just gum up the paper and force you to change it. Just wait it out.
After you sand all the boards down, clean them with a damp rag. This will remove all the dust and get them ready to stain.
Wait a few minutes for the boards to dry again then use a clean dry rag to rub the stain in. For this project I purchased stain applicator pads to see if they made any difference. Not so much. They are bit more absorbent but the end result is the same. Save your money and just use an old T-shirt.
Dip the rag into the stain then rub it into the wood. Keep rubbing it in to get an even finish.
You will notice that the filler does not take the stain as well as the wood. There isn't much you can do about that. In the end it'll still look better than if you left the screw heads showing.
The pic of the stain here is misleading. I was staining at night so the lighting is very harsh and brings out the contrast even more. It is not nearly as noticeable as that.
Allow the stain to dry and check the color. You can apply another coat if you'd like it to be a bit darker. In the last pic you can see the difference between the raw wood and the stained. Notice how it brings out the grain. This is why I opted for the more expensive boards.
Step 14: Trim
Since the wood was oak I finished it with oak molding. I stained the molding with a darker stain to get a bit more depth.
Get your miter box out and cut your molding to length. Remember to cut the corners at a 45 degree angle so they make a nice finish.
You need to cut the molding to cover all the exposed edges. Make sure the corner is always on the outside of the bed. This way it is visible when the mattress is in.
The headboard is a little different here.
The corner should be on the inside of the headboard. This is again because it will most likely sit against a wall and the only visible side is the front.
When you put the molding in this way you will notice right away that it gets in the way of your sides. You will have to make a cut to remove part of the corner. Look at the pictures below if you are having trouble visualizing this.
Once all the trim is cut stain it and allow it to dry. Once it dries you can use glue and finishing nails to attach it. I kept the bed put together for this step and just laid the trim out, glued it, and tacked it in place with a brad nailer.
Step 15: Polyurethane and Take Apart.
This will seal the stain in and protect the wood.
I opted for a satin finish rather than a glossy one, but there is no real difference other than the aesthetics.
Use a brush or a sponge to brush the poly on. Use long even strokes to minimize the dripping.
I rushed this step and it came out looking a little off. Unfortunately I was running out of time and I decided to do this at night lit by headlights. Terrible idea.
I did my best to correct the drip marks and all, but the next day there were still some visible.
This can be corrected by sanding it lightly with a fine sandpaper, but I unfortunately did not have the time for this.
This is the only thing I really regret on this project.
Take your time and do a good job.
Take the bed apart again before you put the clear coats on. This way you'll get better coverage.
You will also notice that some of your trim sticks out past the edges of the boards when it is taken apart. Be careful not to damage the edges there as it will ruin the nice corners you were trying for.
Step 16: Take to Location and Put Together
After you poly the bed, and it dries, you can put it together.
At this point you've put this monster together a few times and should be pretty adept at it.
When you put it together, lay the slats across it. A queen bed uses two sets of slats that each rest on the middle support. This is so the slats would not flex and crack.
Once the slats are in nicely, and stretched out, you will want to secure them so they cannot move around.
To do this I cut 6 pieces from the dowel to a length of about 2 inches.
Check where the last slat ends and drill a 1/2 inch hole right on the inside of that. Don't drill the hole all the way through, just maybe an inch or so into the 2X4.
Pour some glue into the hole and hammer the dowel piece into it. The only thing you want to make sure is that the dowel is not above the top of the slats.
You want to do this on every corner of the bed, as well as on the top and bottom of the middle beam.
This will keep the slats from sliding closed.
The reason I did this last step once the bed was in ti's final location, was so I wouldn't have to put it together and take it apart more times than I had to. Just make sure to clean up the wood shavings after.
Note: Sorry about the poor quality of pics here. I forgot my camera and had to use the phone.
Step 17: Musings
If you followed the steps through you should have a bed now.
The project took me about 2 weeks from start to finish, but it could be done in a lot less time. The problem is that I only put one solid Saturday into this project and then was only able to work on it an hour or two at a time after that.
I think this project could be completed in about a weekend if you really set out to finish it. The staining and waiting for it to dry are the biggest bottlenecks here.
There are a few points I'd like to make about this project now that it's done.
The cost was a little higher than I originally anticipated. My total cost was around $350.
You could definitely lower the cost of this project considerably though. I bought all new material for this (even the stain and poly). If you recycle some you'll save a few bucks. You can also buy much cheaper materials. I opted for a rather expensive type of wood (oak). If you are not too concerned with the appearance, you can buy much cheaper versions.
The one thing I wish I had done, is to visit the lumber yard and check the materials there. I believe the price would be better, as well as the selection. I had mentioned before that I could not find the plywood that is only veneered on one side. I'm sure the lumber yard would have had it.
Unfortunately, I was rather pressed for time on this project. I had to have the bed completed by the move-in date, and I did not have much spare time to do it in.
If you take your time to plan everything better, you will almost certainly save money. Shop around.
I really feel this project went off without any major mistakes, but there are a couple of things I wish I'd done a little differently.
- I wish I had taken more time and care staining and varnishing it. I had come down to the wire near the end there and was forced to do this step late at night in poor lighting. The streaks are not too bad, but it could have been done much better. Plan the project out and set out the time to do it right.
- The measurements could have been a little tighter around the mattress. I made the bed one inch larger than the mattress to help it sit better. In retrospect 1/2 inch may have been better.
Right now the gap on the sides is not a problem. 1/2 inch disappears rather quickly once the sheets are placed and tucked in and all that. It's more of an issue around the corners.
The mattress has rounded corners, and the bed is square. This means that you will always have a little gap there (unless you cut a piece of wood out to fill the gap). The problem is that the extra inch has made that gap even bigger. It's not a huge issue, but if I did it again I'd make the frame only 1/2 inch larger.
That's about it.
The bed came out looking rather nice, if I may say so, and it is very sturdy.
Hope you enjoyed reading this. If you have any questions feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer. If you have any comments and suggestions feel free to put them up.