Collapsible Bed Frame




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.

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    7 years ago

    Wood scraps or spacers between end slats works as well as stapling canvas strapping along the slats once they are spaced. It also helps to keep it neat when rolling it up for transport.


    Sweet project, is the bed itself sturdy when put together, been planning a new bedframe for a bit and swaying about what to do... 


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

      It is very sturdy for ONE person and for a twin mattress.
      If you move the mattress around a lot (like when you put the sheets on) sometimes slats fall out, but they are easy to put back. If I had more patience, I would add some kind of mechanism to keep all of the slats in place- little spacers built along the rail. Too much tedious work on that one though.
      Like I said in the instructions, take time to make sure that all of the joints are very tight, although with the bolts and screws, that may not be an issue.

    So... very sturdy.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Are you still using this bed and, if so, how's it holding up after a few years? Also, another solution to the sliding slats issue would be to "peg" the end slats in place like you did with the middle one, then use cord to tie a loop around the end of each slat, so they're all tied to each other at the proper spacing. You'd have to do this on both sides of the bed. When you move, you just take out your nails and roll up the bundle. Alternatively, you could use nylon webbing and glue it. Same concept and probably less fussy to do initially, but a bigger pain if you need to replace a slat.


    Am going to try as I need a higher bed base. Was thinking of using ready made cabriole legs to make the bed highe r off the ground and more attractive to look at. I will buy some strapping though and staple it to the slats to make them more stable and stop them moving around. They'll still fold up neatly and you're less likely to lose one in the move. I rent so this looks like a lovely simple and easy bed to try and make. Am going to try adding a headboard though as well.

    you could use round headed bolts and wing nuts on the slats or the whole thing! just as a suggestion.


    12 years ago on Introduction

     Have you considered just ordering some Ikea slats for the base?  Keep the outside frame concept, and just throw some of those slats in, hard to tell from the picture on but they are connected by polyester strips so when not in use, you roll them up.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Use Velcro on the bottom of the slat and on the support that it rests on.  Slats won't move.  Helps somewhat on the bowing of the frame.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Good idea- cheap, easy, and functional. I like it. Thanks!


    12 years ago on Introduction

     just a suggestion about the slat problem...
    what if you took a simple screw and spaced them where you wanted them to be, drove a screw thru the slat into the frame to not only hold the slat in the place you want it to be, but to prevent the sides from bowing out, as the slats would hold them in....if you have a power drill anyhow, it might take an extra 10 minutes, but it would solve 2 issues and make it more stable.

    I love this 'Ible btw... I do a lot of Ren Faires and sleeping in giant canvas tents, and due to my back problems I take a twin sized mattress with me and had a portable frame, this one is much more user friendly than mine,... I used 2x4's as the outer frame, welded iron corners, and 2x4's as slats...but it breaks down much like this one. This may be a great option for me. Thanks for sharing !!


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the suggestion about the screws.
    It got me to thinking; I could just attach angle brackets in the center, and bolt the one center slat through each side. This would stiffen the center, but not cause any issues with breakdown. I am too lazy to drill each of the slats, but it's a good thought for someone who will be in one place for a while (I intend to move regularly the next few years).
    That description was terrible, but he wheels are turning in my brain.

    Thanks for the suggestions again.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    one way to solve the bowing issue. You can consider using old style hook and eye latches (like on older homes screen doors) on a couple of the slats. Probably wouldn't need more than 2 - 4 slats with the latches.  Use one latch set per slat, eye on the slat, hook on the frame, tight enough to hold the frame sides to the slat end.  Too tight and it is harder to disassemble, but would bow less. 


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Or I could even go as far as to add angle brackets at each slat. you could then just drop in a small bolt (or nail) to a hole on each slat. I love thinking about this stuff.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    HI. This is very neat. Might I give my two cents on your bowing issue? I noticed that there is an end that is cut and has nothing holding it in like the other three corners. That could be part of your bowing issue. It does not seem to have anything to stop it from bowing out. The other thing is you could use 2x2's for the slats to sit upon, and 2x4's for the slats. Since you do not have a box spring you will need that extra support. The function of the box spring is to allow the mattress to give without bending. This is why those futon mattresses are so flipping hard, and platform beds have solid bottoms.
    Also I am thinking a simple materials change would not hinder your goal of breakdown, and portability.
    Thanks for this neat instructable. Now you so have my gears spinning.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

     ohh that is a great idea !!...the bolts would not really have to have nuts on the bottoms, as they will hold themselves in with their weight, and not slide around, and it is only a matter of a bit more construction time and a bit more drilling,but in the long run, no more readjusting the slats, or droopy mattresses.... I like that long as you have a zip bag to put everything into  ( I personally use the zippered bags that sheets come in, it has a lil hanger on the top of them so I can just hang it off the brackets, and it contains my tools to put it together and breaking down of  my bed when I am at faires) then when you are ready to move, it all goes into the zippered pouch, and is packed with the pieces, and is all together for ease of putting it together again and let the boxes sit for unpacking at a later


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I used to use a really big box spring for my bed frame, worked well and was confortable.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I spent a lot of time with a mattress on the floor (it was great) but this is a super build.