Introduction: Storage Bed: Reclaiming the Unused Space! (Captains Bed)

Picture of Storage Bed: Reclaiming the Unused Space! (Captains Bed)

Have you ever thought of your bed as wasted space? Or been frustrated by the junk(or "stuff" as some call it) that always gets shoved under the bed and forgotten about. I realized the solution to both of these problems is to own a storage bed. It allows you to use the space more efficiently and keep everything clean and organized. In this instructable I will show you how to create a storage bed for a lot less money than they retail for. I found they usually retail for over $1000! The finished cost of this bed and headboard was somewhere between 300 and 400 dollars, and i finished it in the colour I wanted!

The bed is a north american queen sized bed and has a total of six drawers. I used gorilla glue for a lot of the project as well as an assortment of brackets (I will explain the brackets more in each step). A tool that is very helpful but not necessary is a frame clamp(it helps with the drawers and the legs).

Tools List:



-Saw (circular saw will work but miter saw is preferred)

-Table saw


-Frame Clamp

-Measuring Tape

-Painting supplies

Materials List:

-Wood Glue

-Finish Nails (several sizes)

-Screws (several sizes)

-Sandpaper (Assorted grits ranging from 60 to 220)

-Lumber (exact numbers and dimensions are stated in each step)

-Pre-stain wood conditioner

-Wood stain

-Clear coat (e.g. varathane)

Step 1: Bed Legs

Picture of Bed Legs



-Frame Clamp



-2" Finish Nails

-Wood Glue

-3 Finished 2x6x8'

To start I build the legs. I took Finished 1x6 and cut 2 pieces for each leg the height I want the bottom of the rails to be at (I went with 12 inches). The other two pieces for each leg I cut 3.5 inches longer ( width of a 2x4). You will understand why in a later step. I took these pieces and glued and nailed them together using finish nails, attaching 2 pieces together at a time in the shape of an L. I then attached two of these together to make a square. This is where the frame clamp comes in handy to keep everything square. Make sure the two longer pieces are adjacent and the two shorter pieces are adjacent. there will be some excess wood on one of the longer pieces which can be removed by table saw or hand saw. This is to allow for the rail to rest on the shorter pieces.

Step 2: Rails

Picture of Rails






-2" finish nails

-2 Finished 1x12x72"

-2 Finished 1x12x96"

-4 Metal Corner Braces

-5/8" screws

-Wood Glue

Assembling the rails are fairly easy. I was building this bed in my basement, so to account for me having to remove it someday i glued & nailed two opposing corners and attached brackets to the other two. This way it can be taken apart and brought up the stairs. Cut the rails to the length and width required for the size mattress you have plus an inch for room around the mattress. a queen mattress in Canada is 60 inches by 80 inches so the inside dimensions of the frame is 61x81. make sure to account for the extra thickness of the side rails when cutting your head and foot rails. If the thickness of your rails is 3/4", you must add double that to the length of your head and foot rails e.g. 61+3/4+3/4=62.5. Make sure to set the nail heads, fill them with wood filler and sand them.

Step 3: Attach the Legs

Picture of Attach the Legs




-8 shelf Brackets

-5/8" screws

For attaching the legs to the rails I placed them on the rails as if the bed was upside down. I used normal shelf brackets for these joints because they are strong and cheap. Place the shorter parts of the leg on the rails and the longer parts inside the frame. NO GLUE OR NAILS FOR THIS STEP!

Step 4: Attach the Cleats

Picture of Attach the Cleats





-Wood Glue

-2" screws

-2 2x4x8'

-1 2x4x10'

The cleats are what will hold the plywood on the edge of the bed and the joists. They also stiffen up the rails. Cut them to be a little smaller than the space between the shelf brackets. I glued and screwed the cleats flush to the bottom of the rails. Because the legs of the bed are 3.5" above the bottom of the rail, they will support the plywood at the corners. Layout on the cleats for your joists. i made the spacing a minimum of 12" on center, but made it 8" near the center of the bed.

Step 5: The Joists

Picture of The Joists





-Joist hangers (2 for each Joist) (I used 14)

-2x4x10' (1 for every 2 joists) (I used 4)

-1 1/2" screws

Measure and cut all of the joists. If your rails are correct they should all be about the same length. Screw hangers onto the cleats to hold the joists. I did not screw the joists to anything they sit in the hangers for easy removal. Use a scrap of 2x4 to set the height of the joist in the hanger to be flush with the cleats.

Step 6: Drawer Frame

Picture of Drawer Frame



-Table saw




-1 1/2" screws

-Wood Glue

-5 1x4x8'

-2 1x2x8'

The next part to build is the drawer frame. I used 1x4 for this part which I ran through the tablesaw to remove the chanfers and then I sanded each piece. This is the part which the drawers will sit within. These are built on the two longer sides and are made to fit between the legs. Make sure that the frames will not touch the ground as they may make the legs not touch the ground if the floor is uneven. These frames are just made from two longer pieces and some vertical blocks. Screw and glue every joint. Make sure to make each opening for the drawers equal. I then measured back on the middle blocks the thickness of the drawer fronts for the doorstops which are 1x2 (I was using 1/2" ply and 3/4" thick 1x2 for my drawer fronts therefore I set the doorstops 1 1/4" back from the finished edge.

Step 7: Attaching Drawer Frames

Picture of Attaching Drawer Frames




-1 1/2" screws

I setback the drawer frames 3/4" from the face of the rails. and i made it tight to the bottom of the cleats. Screw the frames in as they will support the drawers.

Step 8: False Drawer Fronts

Picture of False Drawer Fronts






-3 1x2x8'

-1 4x8 sheet of Sanded 1/2" plywood (used in more than one step)

-Finish Nails


-Wood glue

To build the false drawer fronts at the foot of the bed I built a frame using 1x4 and 1x2. I then slipped a piece of the drawer front plywood into the frame behind the center piece and the side pieces. I then attached 1x2 to the plywood to mimic the look of my drawer fronts.

Step 9: Drawer Slide Frame

Picture of Drawer Slide Frame





-1 1/2" screws

-6 1x4x8'

To build the frames to mount the drawer slides on, use 1x4s and attach them as joists from back of doorstop to back of opposing doorstop. Make sure to leave a gap between the bottom of the 1x4 joist and the bottom of the drawer front frame (see picture). Attach each joist to each other with blocks to stiffen them up and make the spaces even.

Step 10: Pre-cutting the Drawer Pieces

Picture of Pre-cutting the Drawer Pieces


-Table saw


- 1 4'x8' sheet of 1/2" sanded plywood (used in more than one step)

-1 1x6x10' (drawer front)

Now the fun begins! You can build your drawers however you want, whether you use butt joints or biscuits or rabbets or whatever. I used rabbeted joints. Looking at the pictures will help you understand what the pieces look like better than I can explain them. The drawer sides and backs are 1/2" ply and the piece for the front that attaches to the drawer front is 1x6. The back and the front of the drawer only have dados (actually called plows because they go with the grain) cut out for the drawer bottom which is 3/8 ply. The sides of the drawer have the ends rabbeted half their thickness for the other pieces and dadoes. I cut all of the pieces on the table saw. The finished drawer fronts are built and attached later.

Step 11: Drawer Assembly

Picture of Drawer Assembly



-frame clamp


-Precut drawer pieces

-Wood Glue

-1" finish nails

To assemble the drawers put a generous amount of glue in each rabbet and dado. Then insert the plywood drawer bottom into the dado in the drawer back, next insert into the two sides and nail the sides into the drawer back. I used 1" smooth finish nails as they are only there to hold together while the glue dries. Next attach the front with the same method. Use the frame clamp to hold the drawer pieces together while you nail the joints. Remove the frame clamp once all the joints are nailed. This can be a very time consuming process but I managed to complete six drawers in about an hour and a half.

Step 12: Finished Drawer Fronts

Picture of Finished Drawer Fronts




-(optional) router


-1 4'x8' sheet of sanded 1/2" plywood (same sheet as used in the other step)

-5 1x2x8'

-1" finish nails

-wood glue

Cut out the plywood for your drawer fronts making them slightly smaller than the space they will go. Cut the 1x2s to fit flush to the outside edge of the plywood. You can use mitres or butt joints like I did. On the top piece for each draw make a drawer pull slot on the backside. I did this by placing the 1x2 on my miter saw then sliding the piece sideways along the fence slightly lowering the saw blade with each pass. This left a nice smooth curved drawer pull. **I DO NOT recommend using this method. I am experienced in doing this with the mitre saw, but if done incorrectly it can result in serious injury or amputation** Use a router to make the drawer pull if you have one, or hand chisel it out. You can also just attach a store bought drawer pull to the front of the drawers. To assemble the drawer fronts apply a bead of glue on the backsides of the 1x2s and then nail them flush to the outside edge of the plywood. Nail through the backside so there are no holes to fill.

Step 13: Attach the Drawer Slides

Picture of Attach the Drawer Slides




-Drawer slides

-3/4" screws

You can buy any type of drawer slide you like. Installation may vary based on the type you buy. Follow the installation instructions for your specific drawer slide. Make sure to install the drawer slide so the drawer stops further in than the drawer stop, this will ensure a tight close.

Step 14: Attach the Finished Drawer Fronts

Picture of Attach the Finished Drawer Fronts




-1" screws

-1 1/2" scews

To attach the drawer fronts place the drawer in the slides and push in all the way. Place the drawer front in the space it goes making sure to leave a small gap on all edges. Screw the drawer front on from the inside of the drawer. You may need to place shims between the drawer front and the drawer to ensure everything is flush. use 1" screws when screwing the centre of the front, and use 1 1/2" screws around the edges.

Step 15: Build the Headboard

Picture of Build the Headboard






-1" screws

-1" nails

-13 1x4x8"

-2 1x4x8"

To build the headboard cut 10 1x4s to the width of your bed. Lay them out on the floor tight together with the nice side facing down. Place 4 1x4s (48" in this case) perpendicular to your slats with 1' to 2' of the board hanging past the slats. Place on screw into each slat on each vertical. Be sure to keep the slats tight with minimal gaps. once assembled flip over and nail a 1x2 piece flush to the top and a piece flush to each side. Then nail a 1x4 flat on top of the top slat and 1x2.

Step 16: Sand, Stain and Finish

Picture of Sand, Stain and Finish



-paint brushes


-drop cloths




-pre-stain wood conditioner

-stain or paint

-clear finish (e.g. varathane )

Sand everything. This will take a while but it will pay off in the end. Be sure to vacuum all of the dust off. Apply a pre-stain wood condition to prevent a splotchy look. Test your stain or paint on the inside of one of the rails to get the right shade. Apply the stain based on the directions on the can. Once finished applying the stain apply the clear coat. Use several coats to get a nicer finish. The staining process took me a total of 3 days.

Step 17: Conclusion

Picture of Conclusion

You're done! Now you can slap a piece of plywood on the joists and throw on a mattress. I have found this bed to be very sturdy and will probably last for years to come. Take your time on this project to get it perfect as you will probably spend 1/3 of your day in this bed every day. Please ask any questions if you have any and post your finished version in the comments for everyone to see.


Smarti1957 (author)2016-10-17

One could make the legs so that the side/end rails slide into a groove (no nails or brackets). Then attach, with glue and screw, a 2x2 on the inside of each side rail where removable planks would sit to support the mattress. Then attach frames for drawers with a slide lock mecanism at each corner of these frames. Personally, I would like a large drawer at the foot and longer drawers on the sides to take advantage of the entire space. But I love the detailed instructions. Thanks.

shanecmoore55 (author)2015-12-15

Question, What bed size did you make the frame for?

adam16660 (author)shanecmoore552015-12-15

North american Queen size

Han-D-Man (author)2015-11-29

Good job on the Instructable, and great job on the bed! Your finish work looks great. Thanks for taking the time to document your project!

bigeyeron (author)2015-08-23


llaw2 (author)2015-05-04

This is great, but about how much did this cost you?

adam16660 (author)llaw22015-05-05

Between 300 and 400 canadian dollars(aka monopoly money)

khanjadoo (author)2015-02-18

wow gooooooooooooood

Alderin (author)2014-11-20

Excellent work! Beautiful result! I am inspired to get moving on my own bed renovation ideas.

For my situation, 4 out of the 6 drawers would not be accessible in the current layout, and 3 of them in the last layout. So, my designs have bounced between walls of "drawers too long to pull out" versus "half the space still wasted". Thus, my plans began evolving into ever more complex and difficult designs.

adam16660 (author)Alderin2014-11-24

If I were to recommend a design, I have seen beds which the mattress and slats have been built with a sideways sliding design to allow access to the storage underneath the other side. That way you can pull the mattress out and have stationary boxes with open tops. If you were to find out a way to allow the mattress and slats to slide out half the width of the bed (30" for a queen bed), that would allow you access to the other side from above... You could also deepen the drawers slightly so that they are not too long to pull out, while shrinking the amount the mattress would have to slide out. I can create some rough 3D designs of how this may look or operate. This would be a good storage idea for seasonal clothing storage, or spare sheets etc.

Just a suggestion, hope it may help with your dilemma


adam16660 (author)adam166602014-11-24

I threw together a rough 3D design for how such a mechanism may work. I thought this up in 45 minutes, so it could use some improvements but it is the basic concept.

Hope this helps, and thanks for reading my instructable!


Alderin (author)adam166602014-11-25

Nice design!

Still doesn't work in my rooms configuration, though. I have a side wall, a head wall, and a desk on the other side that takes about 1/3 of the length of the bed. I did have a thought on a semi-complex but still in the realm of doable, that has more possibilities than I was originally expecting.

New idea: a pair of scissor lift mechanisms (head and foot) made slightly shorter than the width of a queen-sized bed would be able to lift the mattress to the ceiling with only two "X's". The middle where the X's connect to each other can carry a work surface with drawers (on the deep side) that raises to a reachable height, while the close side can have rolling drawers that can roll under the work surface or otherwise out of the way.

* Not intended to lift people, only bedding, and I have a Sleep Number (air) mattress that reduces the weight as well.

With a 24" closed height, it will look like a normal bed. When open, it will resemble a single-bunk setup with an under-bed desk, but the bed will be high enough for me to stand under (I'm 6'2"), unlike all of the bunk bed setups. Plus: no ladder climbing.

The desk will have about 10" above its surface before the bed platform when closed, so SOME things can be left on it (keyboard, mouse, multimeter, soldering iron). With some care and attention to detail, a folding mount for a monitor (or monitors) could be incorporated. A recessed box could allow for nearly the whole 24" height, for a mini CNC or 3d printer.

I REALLY want to build this now, and if I do it WILL be an Instructable...

I just wish I had the time and space to build such a thing.

rbarba (author)2014-11-25

I make a suggestion
Insert in bed legs 4 chain wheels for heavy duty.
Whith this modification you can easily move the bed and do the cleaning

grendel54 (author)2014-11-22

good job!

boxcarmj (author)2014-11-21

Very Nice!


AndersA2 (author)2014-11-20

Excellent bed and looks great. For those not so handy Ikea has similar for about the same price.

adam16660 (author)AndersA22014-11-20

I just looked that up and sure enough there are some. I would be interested to see the durability and quality of that bed. I have never been a fan of ikea furniture though. I prefer handmade and solid wood.

AndersA2 (author)adam166602014-11-20

I prefer the handmade bed myself but I just have made their daybed and queen bed the quality is very good.

Xieda (author)2014-11-20

I like how much I learnt about working with wood while reading this instructable. When you said you used brackets on opposite corners of the rails so it could be disassembled for relocation, how come you didn't just use brackets in all the corners? Is a glue/finish nail join significantly stronger than metal brackets?

adam16660 (author)Xieda2014-11-20

Great question!

Not only were brackets more expensive than nails and glue, but I know that a nail and glue joint is stronger. It has been over six months since I built the bed and looking at the joints I can see the nail and glue joints haven't moved at all. The joints with brackets don't look like they have moved until you look close, the center of the joint is slightly open enough to slide a business card into it. This is from the cupping of the wood. Although the laminated boards I used are fairly stable from cupping, it still happens just not as much. Brackets on all four corners would still make a very strong bed, but in my case it was about $8cdn for the brackets for one corner. Two more joints would have cost an extra $16. I don't like to spend money when I don't have to. Saving costs on the little things can add up to large savings on a project.

bruce.desertrat (author)2014-11-20

Very nice bed! One thing to consider, though, is moving especially for 'apartment living' :-) They make bed rail hardware,40842&p=43730 that lets you knock it down for moving.

I made some of the joints with brackets for possible dissasembly. For my purpose it won't need to be moved for years at a time. I went for strength and durability over easy dissasembly and portability. I can see why appartment living could require frequent relocation. For that situation I agree bed rail hardware may be a better option. Although I am not sure how strong they would be, I have never used them. Do you know how sturdy they are?

In my experience they're very sturdy; the wood they're attached to will give way first. The one's I've used were on a bed that was at least 40 years old and it had been moved a bunch of times. They're steel, about 1/8" thick...plenty strong.

GreenMeUpScotty (author)2014-11-20

Good stuff! Well done with thorough explanation. Who doesn't need more storage? (The first one of these I made 15 years ago in the shop was almost put together before I realized it was too big to fit down the hallway and into the room- I had to change my design.)

I was lucky, my parents had just bought the house and I had an empty basement to build it in(the bedroom was also in the basement). But I designed it to be able to get taken out of the basement. It's all fun and games until you try bringing it down the stairs!

tim_n (author)2014-11-17

Some good and very similar plans can also be found if you didn't know it existed!

adam16660 (author)tim_n2014-11-20

I found a photo of that bed during the design process. It is one of the reasons I went with that drawer design. But I didn't know there was a set of plans to go with it.

SomeshRao (author)2014-11-17

Great instructible. Very detailed and I love how simple you have made it.

One suggestion for a new instructible. I think it would be perfect if you could make a coffee table with storage which is similar to this one.

adam16660 (author)SomeshRao2014-11-20

I may need a large coffee table for a living room. I have been exploring different designs. I am considering a cantilevered hinge for the table top with storage underneath. I have a large pile of salvaged oak flooring that I made a side table out of and it turned out great. I may use that for the top. Keep an eye open for a future instructable on it! :)

Great idea, thanks!

Ricardo Furioso (author)2014-11-20

Thank you.

More please.

lentzell (author)2014-11-20

Excellent job, man. And a very detailed how-to.

jon_chalk (author)2014-11-16

One of the best and most detailed instructables. Well done!

MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-11-16

That looks amazing, and would be so awesome for apartment living! Awesome job!

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a 19 year old, 3rd year carpentry apprentice, mostly specializing in house framing. I enjoy building furniture in my spare time.
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