Introduction: A Soft Industrial Pipe Bed Frame

Pipe bed frames are economical, modular designer DIY bed frames. Here I describe a mechanically robust yet elegant design which uses 3/4" black pipe nipple, plus wood slats. The design here fits a queen size 6'6" mattress and a 6'1/2" gent who can easily mount the bed without descending or climbing during the approach, but the dimensions of the components can easily be tweaked to your specifications.

Step 1: Components

Pipes (all 3/4" black pipe nipple):

2 of 6'8" custom cut and threaded 3/4" pipes for the length of the bed
4 floor flanges for legs
4 of 12" pipes for legs
2 of 4" pipes for footer
2 elbows for footer
1 of 60" pipe for footer
2 of 7" pipes for header
2 reverse thread joiner   unions
2 three-way joints for the header
2 of 8" pipes for header
2 straight unions (to provide a small ledge for the header board)
2 of 18" pipes for header
1 of 60" pipe for header

1 5' 6" header board of your choice
11 of 11" wide (nominally 12" ) 5' 6" wooden slats
half-circle pipe fittings (pictured) for fixing the pipe to the header board/bed slats, with #8 x1/2" phillips flathead screw 

Step 2: Headboard

Pipe bed frames can easily be assembled from the component list and pictures shown, but take caution to screw each pipe in as tightly as possible using a pipe wrench. Insufficiently tight pipes will break under load since the pipe tappers at the threads.

A key component in the assembly are the pipe joiner components you can use to bring two pipes together using reverse threads (pictured), which avoids unscrewing one pipe while attempting to screw in the other side. Even so, screwing the header on does not constrain the geometry too much. Therefore, I pushed the header side up against a wall before fixing the slats in place, which makes the geometry rigid.

Step 3: Wooden Slats, Weight Distribution and Treatment

An important consideration in the design of the bed frame is the weight distribution. High-end mattresses distribute the weight well. But if you don't want to take chances, I recommend putting a 2 x 4 up the middle underneath the slats, held using wood screws, to distribute the weight among its neighbors.

Mold can grow on untreated wood left near an open window in San Francisco. To prevent this, I stained all the slats and the 2x4. Stain doesn't prevent mold per se, but it helps, as does wiping it down with bleach once a year, or treating with polypropylene (although I don't like the glossy finish of polypropylene as much).

That's it! With the exception of the 6"8" custom pipes that can be cut and purchased at a plumbing store, the remaining components are standard ware at local hardware stores. As you can see from the description of the assembly, it can be assembled in a couple hours (minus staining of wood), easily disassembled for a move, or modified to suit your changing needs. Ciao!