Introduction: 2X3 Plywood Sofa Bed Combo
This high end, modern bed frame / sofa frame is made from off the shelf, inexpensive building materials.
The vertical supports are cut from furniture grade plywood. The horizontal slats are 2X3 framing studs!
There are no fasteners used. The natural twist in the framing lumber holds everything together, resulting in a very sturdy piece of furniture.
Furniture made from this design concept can change size to accommodate a new layout or the pieces can be reused to create a totally different design.
The width is determined by the length you have your 2X3's cut. The width is determined by how much you overlap the headboard and footboards. You can add additional headboards and footboards to make different configurations.
The entire piece can be disassembled and flat packed for easy transport.
One sheet of 3/4" * furniture grade plywood (also referred to as "paintable" as the outer layers are wood veneer)
Forty 2X3 kiln dried studs cut to the desired length of the finished bed/sofa frame. **You will have a few left over.
Choose your 2x3's carefully. Pick the best, straightest looking boards from the pile. Most Home Depot stores will cut your boards to length for you at no charge!
Handheld jigsaw with a fresh blade
$5 white rubber mallet (white will not leave dark scuff marks on the wood)
* I recommend Pure Bond plywood because it has no added formaldehyde in the non-toxic, soy-based glues used and the wood is all FSC certified.
**The design will hold 38 boards but some boards can be too twisted and too difficult to slide into place. I recommend purchasing a few extra 2X3's in case this should happen. Most big-box hardware stores will even cut your 2X3's to size for you in-store so have your measurements calculated beforehand! Call ahead as 2X3's sometimes may need to be brought in from a larger store.
Step 1: Design Your Profile / Vertical Support Shapes
This instructable does not show how to cut out the plywood pieces. I am not a woodworker so I would not want to steer you wrong (or get anyone hurt!). This instructable shows the design process.
The plywood supports need three things:
1. A basic overall shape, which I will call "the profile". If you were designing a chair, the profile would include the arms, legs, seat height, seat slope, and the back of the chair. An easy way to find a profile is to lay another piece of furniture on its side on a large sheet of kraft paper and trace it. I traced my favorite lounge chair to get the angle of the backrest just right.
You need at least a pair of plywood profiles but you could use many more depending on your design.
2. A slot. Each profile needs a specifically cut slot. The width of the slot must be 1 5/8" to accommodate the thickness of the 2X3 studs that will slide through the slot and be the bridge between the profile pieces. If you were designing a chair, the 2X3's would then become the seat and back surface.
3. Key Connectors. If you are working on a larger design that uses multiple profiles to create your design you will need to add an additional slot under your original slot and fabricate the plywood keys that hold the pieces together. You would connect your profile pieces before sliding in your 2X3's.
You can either design your own profiles on a computer or as I did, just sketch them out full scale on a large sheet of kraft paper.
Feel free to use my design for your personal use only (not for resale purposes please as I do sell this bed frame as a kit on my store). I do not have a CAD file of the design to share. It is fun to design your own furniture shapes, so why not get out a sketch pad to see what you come up with?
To transfer your design from a small drawing, print it on a piece of graph paper and then draw the grid to real-life scale lightly on your 4 X 8 piece of plywood. If you type "grid enlarging" into Google's search bar there are great visual examples on how to do this.
Follow these few rules when designing the vertical boards that will be cut out of plywood:
1. The slot must be exactly 1 5/8" wide and sanded smooth
2. The minimum space from the slot to the outside edge should be 2" or larger. It is ok if a few points of the slot are set only 1 1/2" in from the edge but make sure this will not be in an area that will see large stresses or a lot of weight applied.
3. The same width, lower slots are needed to add the plywood connector keys which hold the footboards and headboards together.
Other things to consider when designing your piece:
The 2x3's do not have to all be cut to the same length. For example, the bed frame can be made into an hourglass shape by cutting the centerboards shorter. This could make it easier to get in and out of bed so you don't have to swing your legs over the side tables.
If you have any room leftover on your plywood consider adding another design. If you are paying a CNC shop to do the job, it is worth it to fill the board as tight as possible to get the most for your money. I added a small piece from our Low Bench Kit on the above sheet for example.
Step 2: Cut Your Profile Pieces Out of the Plywood
The easiest way to cut your plywood pieces is with a CNC machine. If you contact a CNC shop you may be charged design and set up charges in addition to cutting and material fees.
Cutting the pieces yourself from plywood is possible but you need the right tools and skills to do this right. I have done this as an inexperienced woodworker and it turned out decent enough to create a prototype I could test and ultimately bring to my CNC designer to measure and enter into the CNC CAD program.
Here is a tutorial on YouTube that includes helpful tips for cutting a large sheet of plywood if you are using a regular jigsaw, working on the ground.
Sand each cut piece with 150 grit sandpaper. Use a paper towel or tack cloth to remove any excess dust.
You may choose to paint or stain your pieces. I used mine unfinished because I liked the natural light wood color.
If you plan on finishing your pieces use only stains or paint that absorbs into the wood as opposed to creating a layer on top of the wood as this may make the slots too narrow for the board to slide in.
Step 3: Start Assembling Your Pieces
If using our design, overlap your headboard and footboard pieces.
Insert your key pieces into the lower slot and twist them by hand 90 degrees to squeeze overlapping boards together.
If they do not twist easily, re-sand the inside slots of the keys until they turn the full 90 degrees but still with tension.
Step 4: Slide in Your 2X3 Boards
Slide in your 2X3 lumber leaving the 1" gaps where they naturally fall. Gaps are to add airflow under a mattress or cushions.
Some of you 2X3's will come more twisted than others and will need to be tapped with your mallet to get it through. This is good as the twist is what holds everything together! If all your boards slide in loose and easy, your slot is too wide and your finished project may be loose and wobbly. If a board is way too twisted and is hard to get through both slots put it to the side and grab another one. You can twist some boards a bit by hand to help feed it through the second slot and this is recommended as it will create more tension. Tap these 2X3's in with the rubber mallet as they will not slide easily.
The ends of the 2X3's should overhang the plywood vertical supports at least 4-6 inches.
Overhanging the 2X3 boards more if you have the room (up to 18") as it looks more high end and creates useful side tables. The length of the boards can also be cut to different sizes to create more shapes, even an oval!
Tap in the triangle wedge-shaped pieces (from the top or sides) to fill the gaps on each end.
Here is a customer video showing how the pieces can be used to make a bed frame without a sofa -
Print the step by step assembly guide for this bed frame here.
Step 5: Enjoy Your New DIY Sofa Bed Frame!
You can add a DIY mattress, upcycle used sofa cushions or layered felts for your cushions.
By shortening one board you can make slots to slide in floor lamps or for cord management for your cell phone or other devices. The little details of your profile can add so much so really think them through. The fact that the last 2X3 of out footboard angles up adds a lot to the look of the bed frame and also functions perfectly to hold the mattress in place.
You can play with the design by adding more pieces or changing the length of your 2X3's.
This design concept is perfect if you move often or if you like to rearrange your furnishings.
Can I use 2X4's instead of 2X3's? Why did you choose 2X3's when 2X4's are more readily available?
You can adapt the slot design to accommodate 2X4's or you could rip down a few boards to fit with the design as is. I prefer the look of the 2X3's as they are less recognized as framing lumber and look less bulky. 2X3's are also lighter which makes the assembly easier.
What is the overall size of the design shown in the first photo?
Sorry, the first photo is a computer model and I forget the exact length I used. I believe it was close to 10' in overall length and 85 1/2" was the measurement from the back of the headboard to the foot of the bed section.
What overall depths (measured from head to toe on the bed portion) can be made from overlapping the headboard and footboard pieces?
85 1/2" or 78 5/8" or 71 3/4" or 64 7/8"
How much do the materials for this project cost?
A sheet of 3/4" Pure Bond Birch Plywood (recommended) at Home Depot costs under $60 with tax.
Each 2 in. x 3 in. x 120 in. Premium Kiln-Dried Whitewood Stud runs about $2.67 each
Each 2 in. x 3 in. x 96 in. Select Kiln Dried Whitewood Stud runs $2.25 each
If you were to make a design that is 8 feet long and uses one sheet of plywood your cost will be about $150 in materials. Pricing will, of course, vary based on your location.
Can I purchase the plywood pieces precut?
Yes, click the link in my bio to visit my store. Keep in mind we only sell our designs, we do not offer customizations.
Participated in the
1 Person Made This Project!
- LynCim made it!