Introduction: Collapsible Bed Frame

I moved off campus this year, and had to furnish my new apartment. Mostly, I just needed a proper bed frame.

Seeing as I will be moving quite regularly for the next few years (getting started in my career and upgrading in my living spaces), I wanted to make a bed frame that would quickly and easily collapse down into a small bundle, while still being very sturdy. Additionally, It needed to not require a box spring, as those take up valuable space when moving (not to mention tough to get around tight corners).

A buddy of mine (Luke) had made a bed frame of very similar design (I kind of stole it to be honest), but his was on the floor. That doesn't appeal to me, so I added legs to make it a normal bed height.

I looked on the internet to see if there were any other plans out there for a bed frame of this type, but I could not find any that were easy to break down, and easily transportable, so this is the product of my brain.

I am sorry, but I will not be supplying all measurements, as this project was done about 8 months ago, and I lost my notes on it. Really, though, you just have to use your brain to figure out the dimensions to fit your mattress.

I have basic knowledge of woodwork, as well as very basic tools, so this instructible can be done by just about anyone.

Use your safety equipment (goggles, earplugs, gloves, and closed toed shoes).
Get your dad's permission to use his tools, and make sure to put them away when done (yes, that is a safety concern).

Step 1: Materials

You will need:

A  2* 1 x 8 x 84 board (I used pine I think, but you can use nicer if you like).

B   2* 1 x 8 x 60 board (match the other ones)

C   2* 1 x 2 x 84 strip of wood (forgot what the name is)

D   16* .75 x 2.5 x 48 Premium Furring Strip (these are the slats- use more than I did)

E   1* 4 x 4 x 72  fencepost

F   12 long wood screws (whatever you have around)

G     8* 6" bolts

H   a bunch of finishing nails

I    About 12' of 550 cord or other type of strong string


A saw that can go through a fencepost (mine only went about 3/4 of the way through, and wound up with crappy cuts)

Bandsaw if you are fortunate enough to have one.

A Drill with some long bits (same problem as above)

a flat screw driver


some sawhorses

wrench to fit the bolts- or vice grip- or strong fingers

tape measure

something to mark lines- I use classroom chalk

Step 2: Make the Frame

Measure your mattress- make the frame slightly larger(like 1" clearance)   to have some grace room.
Add 6" to the length to accommodate the interlocking system that I am about to discuss.

Use boards A&B for this step

Cut the boards to length

Now for the hard part
   measure 2" from the end of each board, and make a cut that goes halfway through the board (not depth, but length). Then, make a cut that is slightly smaller than the width of the board that will fit into it. We want these joints to be snug, so that the bed won't wiggle.

Make sure that the notches are facing the same edge on the board- stupid mistake if you make them facing opposite ways. Don't you love quick trips to Lowe's.

It helped me to cut out one side, and then flip the board over. This takes care of the round cut that you get from a circular saw. If you are fortunate enough to have a band saw, this will be great for it.

Once you have made the notches, use a screwdriver to carefully knock out the skinny piece.

*** The short side of the notch started falling off-.
              Moral of the story is to be careful- take your time when using the screwdriver and everything will stay together.

Step 3: Inner Supports

Now is where you will put the inner supports for the slats.

Use C & H for this

fit your frame together, then measure the strips across this. You want them to fit just inside the frame on the long sides so that the legs get some support (you'll see).

cut both to length.

use finishing nails to attach them about 2" from the top of the long sides. This gives you room for the slats, plus a bit to keep the bed in place.

I made sure to put the long sides as the top board (will sit on the short ends), as the legs will be affixed to the ends. This way, the stress isn't sitting on 2 bolts (which will make them a pain to remove, I presume).

Attached are a diagram and a photo that shows how they fit together.

Step 4: Attach the Legs

My bed frame and box spring sat about 14" off the ground. I wanted the frame to hold the mattress that high, but I had a 6 ft fencepost hanging around, so I used 16" instead (to save a cut).

use E, F, &G for this.

Cut the fencepost into 4 equal lengths (don't want a wobbly bed).

Assemble the frame and flip it over so that you can find where to mount the legs. Although it will be attached to the end, it will sit against the slat supports that you just added.

Insert 4 of the wood screws to hold everything in place.

See how everything fits together?

To finish it off, drill the holes for the bolts in the long sides. I only used 2 to hold the frame together, but you may not need them- mine don't even have nuts on them.

Step 5: Cut the Slats

Measure the inside of the frame- cut a slat to fit just inside it.

You are using D for this one

Cut the slats snug- you don't want them to slide around.

Place them all evenly throughout the frame to give solid support.

I didn't use enough slats, so mine started breaking. I am down to about 8, which hasn't had any problems.

If you plan on having someone else in this bed, you may like to have more than 16.

Step 6: Draw in the Sides

When I first started sleeping on this bed, the slats at my butt would fall out randomly. I was puzzled. Eventually, they wouldn't even sit on the support anymore.

Use I for this.

It took me about 2 days of sleeping on the futon to realize that the sides were bowing out. This is easily fixed with the application of 550 cord. A solid length around the center of the bed frame pulling the sides together solves all of the problems (it actually pulls the sides in some, and makes it tighter).

I could have used another method to stiffen the sides, but that would make the bed harder to move, so I opted against it.

Step 7: Finish It.

Put the mattress on the bed to give it a test. See where the slats need to go to give you proper support. With the 550 cord, the slats shouldn't move around too much, but if they do, just carefully lift the mattress and put the slat back.

Fall asleep on it in the backyard until you hear your neighbors and realize how weird you look sleeping on a bed in the backyard.

This is not a stiff bed, but is very comfortable to me. A bit of spring in it.

Step 8: Break It Down

You are now ready to move into your first apartment.

Remove the mattress

Take the bolts out, and put them in a ziploc gallon bag.

Remove the slats, and make a nice bundle. The 550 cord does a nice job of keeping it in order.

Pull apart the frame, and make a separate bundle.

You will have much more space in the car now to move things, and will have no problems navigating stairs in your new place while moving the bed.

Step 9: Easy Solution to an Annoying Problem

As mentioned in the comments (and in the instructible), the slats have a notion that they don't have to stay in place

This becomes annoying when there is a visitor, as you will have to relocate to another location- such as the couch or futon (which is bigger anyway).

The solution, after consulting with some wonderful DIYers on the comments section, was to place some strategic holes along the inner rail, and set a nail in some of the slats. This serves to keep the sides from bowing out, and provides a "stop" for the other slats, so they don't move around too much. I have 5 slats that are secured with nails, with the rest just being "free agents."

Additionally, I replaced the inner rail with a stiffer 1" x 1" rail after the wussy original broke on one side (boy, was that a fun way to wake up). This gives more structure and gives a spot to drill.

IT is important to note that not only does it seem tedious to drill a hole for each slat, but i question whether or not that would weaken the new slat, causing it to split down the middle. Additionally, in order to maintain a properly tight fit, each hole was drilled and marked with a corresponding slat. Only one fits each hole. A better workman could do a better job, but it works for me.

Hope that this is helpful, and can avoid embarrassing mishaps for those who try to make this.