Introduction: Aluminum Pipe Bed

This project serves as a guide for those who wish to build their own bed frame from pipe and modular fittings. The beginning sections are informational, regarding different approaches, preparation, and the resources required. The following sections are a reference for the do-it-yourselfer (DIY), and provides step-by-step directions.

My main motivation for doing this project was to build a modern queen-size canopy bed frame that was made from aluminum pipe and galvanized metal fittings and would accomodate a standard matress and box springs. Many years ago, I had seen a similar bed frame in magazine ads by a well-known fashion designer. Unfortunately, their version cost nearly $6,000!

We have been using this bed for about 7 years now. The pipe is comfortable to hold onto and very sturdy. :) We also think it's pretty stylish.

Step 1: Foreward and Preparation

While this project is pretty easy to assemble, the components are industrial in nature. Make sure your bedroom has enough ceiling clearance for the assembled canopy frame. You will also need a truck or large van to transport the longer lengths of pipe.

The only tool you really need is a standard 5/16" (7.94mm) A.F. hex key. This assumes that you let your pipe supplier cut the pipe to length for you and that you outsource the small amount of welding. Most people don't have welding kits that work with aluminum.

Note: This project isn't what most people would call cheap. Parts alone will cost around $800. Still a far cry from the nearly $6,000 designer version.

Step 2: Parts: Pipe Fittings

I chose to use Kee Klamp galvanized metal fittings. They were readily available from Grainger. If I were to do it over again, I'd use the aluminum fittings which you can get through Simplified Building Concepts. They weren't available when I originally built this. The galvanized ones work ok, but aluminum would be a better match aesthetically, as well as save some weight.

||Grainger #||Kee #||Description||Qty||
||5A488||61-7||Flange, Base||4||
||5A476||20-7||Elbow, Side Outlet||4||
||5A470||10-7||Tee, Single Socket||14||
||5A478||21-7||Tee, Side Outlet||4||

Clamp total: 26

Step 3: Parts: Pipe

I used 1.25 inch schedule 40 aluminum pipe.
||Length in Inches||Qty||
Length total 228", 19 pieces.

I'm allowing for 1" of pipe inserted into the fittings for the hex screw. When assembled, this fits a queen mattress and box spring snuggly.

In addition, I used two pieces of angle aluminum. They were 1.25" wide, and cut to 57.75".

I purchased my pipe and angle aluminum from a metal supply company. They cut the pipe to length for me. Note that this pipe is industrial material. So it has some blemishes. I rather like the industrial look of it.

NOTE: Pipe and tube are not the same thing. Tube is usually thin-walled. Schedule 40 pipe exceeds OSHA and BOCA standards, and is heavy-duty enough to be used for scaffolding.

Step 4: Welding Aluminum Angle Brackets

While I could have used more cross braces, to support the box springs, I wanted to give the bed a "floating" appearance. So I had aluminum angle brackets welded to the two lower pieces. This means only one center support pipe is needed.

Aluminum requires a special welding kit. I didn't have the equipment or skill, so I took the pipe and aluminum angle brackets to a professional. Most muffler shops should be able to do this for a small fee.

NOTE: The angle aluminum is only welded to one pipe at each end to help support the box spring. It isn't attached to the side pipe or fittings. You need the flat part of the angle to be even with the top of the pipe. It would look something like this when sit on the floor to be welded. _|O

Step 5: Clear Coating

I chose to clear coat all of the aluminum components (pipe and angle pieces). I used Prep-Sol to clean the surface before using Krylon Clear Coat from a spray can, and gave three applications. Nice clean finish, and keeps the industrial look of the aluminum. I did this to protect against aluminum oxidation (which leaves a powdery residue) and any possible reactions between the disimilar metals (aluminum pipe and galvanized steel fittings).

You may be able to skip this step if you use annodized aluminum, or have the components powder coated.

Step 6: Attach Fittings

Attach the fittings. Start at one end of each pipe and work to the other. The fittings attach via recessed set screws. A standard hex key is the only tool required. Measurements to the center of each fitting follow.

Each of the two tall (87" floor to ceiling) head board posts will have:
  • 3-way fitting at top
  • T fitting 42" from top
  • T fitting 59.5" from top
  • T fitting 20" from bottom
  • 90-degree angle fitting 10" from bottom
  • Foot at bottom

Each of the two tall (87" floor to ceiling) foot posts will have:
  • 3-way fitting at top
  • T fitting 26" from bottom
  • T fitting 20" from bottom
  • 90-degree angle fitting 10" from bottom
  • Foot at bottom

You should have two fittings left over that provide the center support brace.

Be sure to match the attached fittings on each pipe, to the sister fitting on the other side. You'll want to use the picture on the following step to orient each of the angle fittings in the right direction. Tighten each fitting just enough to keep it in place. This will allow you to make adjustments, if necessary, when connecting all the sides together.

Step 7: Assembly

With the headboard and footboard connectors attached, you can assemble each end by connecting the respective post to its mirror version sister post using the 67" pipe.

Once headboard and footboard are assembled, stand them each up and you should be able to see how the six 79" pieces of pipe connect the two ends together.

NOTE: Don't forget to put a T fitting on the two bottom pieces to form the center support.

Step 8: Finished

Once everything is assembled, and you've confirmed that your mattress and box spring fit inside the frame, it's time to tighten everything up. Use your hex key to lock the pipe firmly in place. The makers of Kee Klamp recommend that you tighten the setscrew to 29 lbs./ft. or 39 Nm of torque. This is approximately "hand-tight."

You've created a strong, rigid bed frame that should be able to support a few thousand pounds! The finished frame should measure 67"W x 82"D x 90"H.

Step 9: Closing Remarks

I realize that there are other "pipe beds" out there for sale and DIY. This one is a little more detailed than the others I've seen. I originally built this many years ago. This site didn't even exist at the time, but thought I would share it anyway. It has worked great for us, and has weathered multiple moves with ease. It's the only canopy version that I've seen.

Feel free to post your questions, comments, and critisisms (constructive or otherwise). Please drop me a note if you decide to build your own pipe bed based on these directions.

If there is enough interest, I could probably provide a version that doesn't require any welding and/or a non-canopy design. Enjoy!

Step 10: Resources

A list of resources that might be helpful: