Introduction: Twin-Full-Queen-King Platform Bed With Danish Inspiration

About: Engineer making renewable energy products for African entrepreneurs.
This is my bed. I have always loved the look and feel of a platform bed. But they can be quite expensive. Here are some loose instructions on how to make a platform bed from some recycled materials and some solutions to the problems I ran into.

Step 1: Background

Many of my ideas end up on napkins, index cards, scraps of paper and other items easily lost - like Ole Doc Methuselah and his gauntlet cuff filing system :P. I had an idea of a platform bed, but it ended up on a index card and was lost for a few years....

Enter Junior year of college. I needed a bed (I lived on campus freshmen and sophomore year and a bed was provided). Shopping around I found these to be quite expensive. Then I found a furniture store called Bo Concept. In Danish, Bo means life (or was that living?) and they had some beautiful pieces of furniture where modularity was the name of the game. I left the store with one of the catalogs but still bed less.

After seeing the platform beds in Bo (they only had platform beds), went home and searched for my sketches. I only found a a few of them but it was a starting point. I picked the components I liked from their different beds and made one of my own.

My father does furniture touch-up. While he does not do it much anymore, he used to completely rebuild all sorts of pieces. He offered to help as he is much more experienced than I am when it comes to furniture building - not to mention, we have very few projects to do together...

My inspiration below.... Mind you, I did walk into the store, whipped out the tape measure, and take a few measurements.... Yes, I got some odd looks from other patrons and employees :)

Step 2: Materials and Tools

My father just so happened to have a LOT of solid cherry end caps from a yacht that was throwing them away (they were the leftovers). The caps were installed in doorways to finish off an entrance. We had a variety of different sizes but they all had an "L" shape. Hooray for Re-use!

Three - four Sheets of plywood - I believe we used 1/2" and/or 3/4"
5' of 4" PVC
5 4" to 2" PVC reducers
Enough 2"X1" to go around the perimeter of the bed
Screws -- the thickness of your raw material will determine length
8 90 degree angle brackets

Tools and Some Consumables

Radial Arm Saw
Table Saw
6 Hour 2 Part Gel Epoxy
Wood Glue
Power Drill with drill and screw bits

Step 3: Dimensions and Major Components

Mattress Rise
It really helps knowing what mattress you'll be using. Ideally, you don't want no more than 8-12 inches of mattress exposed and no less than 4 inches. Bo Concept used 8 inch thick mattress with 4 inches above their bed rails and it looks excellent. This of course is personal preference and may be constrained by your materials. My mattress happens to be double sided, 17.5 inches thick and rises up 9 inches above the rails.

Mattress Fit
You also NEED to know the dimensions of your mattress. An X-long will not fit in a Normal platform and visa versa. I have a US standard dimension queen - that is 60" by 80" but check your mattress as mfr's can vary.

US Standard Queen: 76" X 80"
Olympic King (wider): 82" X 80"
California King (Longer): 72" x 84"

US Standard Queen: 60" x 80"
Olympic Queen (wider): 66" x 80"
California Queen (longer): 60" x 84"

Standard: 53" x 75"
Full XL (long): 53" x 80"

Standard: 38" x 75"
Twin XL (long): 38" x 80"

Because my mattress is double sided, I need to flip it every few months. Not a big deal for me, but it means I need to leave a little more free area on the sides of the bed to allow this to happen. If you have a single sided - you can go for a tighter fit. Also keep in mind that if you use a fluffy comforter, you want a little extra space on the sides and bottom of the bed. Otherwise the comforter will drape over the sides of the rails and the "platform" effect is gone. It looks like a frame less bed.

As for which is better - double or single sided? I like double sided because I can rotate and flip my bed like I do with my car tires. The foam wears evenly without developing impressions. If I was an older lady, I probably would prefer single sided so I wouldn't have to deal with lifting a rather heavy mattress every three months.

Ground Clearance
I need space to store things. Old bike tubes, tools, failed experiments, cleaning supplies, books et. al. I decided that I wanted a 7" high storage bin to fit under the bed. For more comfortable access and accounting for any fluffy carpet thickness, we shot for 10 inches of clearance. It settled at 9.5" which is just enough to fit my toolboxes too :)

Some Platforms have no clearance --- they sit on the floor. Typically this design has wide rails that require the support.

Head Board
This is really personal preference. I combined a mish mash of designs from Bo's catalog. I also wanted to give a bigger room feel. So horizontal lines were the way to go. You can go simple, complicated, extravagant, whatever. My design was for something rather tall - taller than any of Bo's designs (no more than 40" tall). This really bit me in the butt when it came time for transport - but I'll get to that later ;) If you're going to be transporting your bed somewhere, keep that in mind.

Rail Width
I was constricted by my materials on this one. My rails are 1 3/4" wide but you don't need to follow that. If you want a 12" rail - go for it ;) Integrate a night table if you want. Wider rails will require bottom support so you may loose some under-bed storage space unless you build drawers into the bed.

Modularity is key. Ask yourself
# Can I take this apart
# Can I lift each component by itself
# Do the modules fit together easily and more importantly, safely
# Is it better to make a separate piece of furniture instead of integrating into this one

My bed is supported by 5 PVC legs. While my headboard goes to the floor - it is not a supporting member. PVC pipe does not seem like a first choice - but aluminum tubes of the same thickness were cost prohibitive. The legs are short, so I'm not worried about buckling. The load is typically 100% axial compression - shear loading is minimal (say jumping onto the bed or anything that wants to make the bed move forward/backward or left/right. The legs are made of three components.

1. 4" PVC Pipe
2. 4" to 2" PVC reducer (to make feet)
3. 4" Flange - bolted to the bottom of the bed

The legs were cemented together and then painted silver and then clear coated gloss.

My bed is made of 3 modules. Everything bolts/screws into each other and everything can be carried by 1 person (1 piece at a time).

1. Rails -- 4
2. Frame -- 5 legs and two cut boards of plywood (separable)
3. Headboard -- 3 sections

Step 4: Rails

I used two "L" shaped end caps per rail to sandwich a pine board. It was glued together with gel epoxy and then clamped - clamped again -- and then a few more clamps. Probably about 200lbs of clamps total :/

To secure the rails to the platform (and provide stability to the platform) - a 2X1 "bracket" of sorts was glued on and screwed in. See 4th picture with the bracket installed.

Step 5: Platform

The platform is made of two 3/4" plywood boards -- aka old hurricane shutters :P

The platform has 4 feet on each corner and a 5th center foot that bolts on to both board at the centerline. The 5 feet will not provide much support though.

To get additional support -- the rails are attached to the platform and to the adjacent rails. When all of the rails are attached -- the platform is VERY stable.

The rails were attached using steel L brackets and screws.

Step 6: Finishing the Rails With Top Caps

When I sandwiched the rails and pine -- I had a seam right on top. To fix that, another "L" piece was epoxied right on top. Then the inner edge was cut flat.

Before applying the epoxy -- the rails were mounted on the platform. Then, they were attached to each other and the top edge (to be glued) was sanded.

Once the epoxy was applied -- a liberal clamp application was applied to press the cap down AND then make sure the edges align.

Step 7: Headboard

A platform bed doesn't have to have a headboard. But the bed I liked had one -- and I had all of this beautiful free solid wood :)

The first task is to make a template. I had a very good idea of what I wanted. I knew how high the bed would float and how far above that the mattress would sit. So, using door skin scraps -- we glued together a template that would make the two sides of the headboard. See picture 1.

I don't have a cross section.... but, the headboard sides is made of plywood and end cap wood stuff epoxied together. The sides themselves were cut in three places -- lower (no angled portion) the lower top (angled portion) and the top. This was a design constraint so that the thing would fit in a moving van :P The sides were made as whole pieces -- then cut afterwards (for uniformity)

Cutting the angled area on the right angle -- according to the template
Want to see a cool trick? Place a true piece of wood on your table saw (you may need to move the fence). Then tape the angled portion of the template to the wood. Now -- using the wood as your fence -- feed the back side of the piece you wish to cut through the saw.

Now -- cut perpendicular to your angled cut at the base of the cut.

The end result is a board with the correct angle and a clean front edge.

Now we need to add our horizontal slats. To do this, a groove as wide as the slats was cut in the side boards. This was done by running the boards on the table saw (set at a very shallow depth). See 6th picture.

Next the slats (made by epoxying 1/4" plywood to the end cap wood) were placed in the groove and glued in place. To further secure the slats, blocks were nailed to the slats and side boards. See 7th Picture.

For even spacing, two spacers were made to ensure even gaps. See third picture.

Finally - the headboard was placed upright and clamped. As a final touch -- a top piece was added and a shelf (at the the base of the angled portion) was added. 8th picture.

Step 8: Feet Etc.

The legs were made from 4" PVC pipe, a 4"->2" adapter for feet, and a 4" flange to mount to the platform.

The legs/feet were painted a silver color to somewhat match an aluminum type of look.

To protect the mattress (double sided), a bit of carpet was placed inside the platform. The carpet was bought as a remnant from my local hardware store for $4 ;)

Once the bed was installed in my room -- I strung some lights behind the headboard. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it is back lit.

Hooray for no foot board :)