Aluminum Pipe Bed

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Intro: 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||
||62"||9||
||79"||6||
||87"||4||
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:

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    75 Discussions

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    xarlock667

    3 years ago on Step 10

    I honestly looked at this at first because of the bed itself, but then I found the KEES site and all their wonderful clampy things. Soon, I shall rule the world! On a side note, just put 3-4 cross beams across the bottom and you have no need for welded aluminum, OR 3 and a sheet of plywood or 2 or 3 depending on the frame size.

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    connorv2

    3 years ago on Introduction

    Really like the design! My girlfriend and I are sailors, and moving in together in san francisco - thinking of making something of this nature, and like the modular, easily moveable design.

    I want to make a platform for a full mattress with the possibility of adding a canopy. Seeing as we are students and have the finances (or lack thereof) to prove it, we want to save money (thinking 200-300 dollar range) and we were going to construct the bed out of old sailboat masts (usually extruded aluminum, but not always circular)

    To hold up the mattress, I was thinking of using webbing/rope to create a sort of net for the mattress (no box spring) to rest on. I want to be able to take it apart and put it in the back of a car easily, and welding seems like it will be out of the question - wondering if lashing some of the joints would be possible...

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    brian941

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi DenVogel,

    Thanks - very cool project and good instructions. I'm thinking about building a simpler frame, without the canopy, like this one:

    http://www.simplifiedbuilding.com/blog/how-to-buil...

    (image attached)

    Given your experience with key klamps, do you expect I will have any issues with sway? I know the frame would be very strong, but I'm worried about it flexing if you push on it from the side, for example.

    Thanks!

    bed.jpg
    This bed is currently available pre-cut, Queen sized in the SF bay area. Look in the community forums,
    https://www.instructables.com/community/Aluminum-Pipe-Bed-size-Queen/
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    stoneground1

    5 years ago on Step 10

    I really like the industrial look to this!! Thanks for posting!!

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    oogiemama

    7 years ago on Step 9

    This looks great, we recently had to get rid of all of our beds (matress and box springs due to black mold) We have been hunting for just the right diy to build a new frame when we get replacement matresses and I believe this one will be it. We are going to try and build though with out welding needs. And suggestions would be greatly appriciated!

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    JStrider

    10 years ago on Introduction

    very cool bed! I'd love to make it, and I like the idea of putting extra bars across the top for more places to grab on to. The only downer is the price... thats definitely more then I'd want to spend... Time to head to craigslist and see if I can find some used scaffolding pipe for cheaper.

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    gossumxJStrider

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Haha, that's exactly what I tried to do. Can't seem to find anything in the searches I've done.

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    Murphys Laws

    8 years ago on Introduction

    XL twin bunk & loft beds are expensive. This would be great & sturdy. Plus you can make it with as much head room as you need on the bottom bunk.

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    task41line

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Lol I tried putting up something exactelly like this 2 months ago and it didn't went well but I think this time it will be much easier.

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    First off, this is awesome! Defineatly thinking outside the box! I love this and plan on making one this fall, as I am in need of a new and larger bed!

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    stpierre2

    8 years ago on Introduction

    I love this project, and will be attempting something similar. Anybody have any idea where I can get Kee Klamps in Canada????

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    startree

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Love it. Thanks for sharing! was just thinking how well this would work as a loft bed when i saw the other links...

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    Fretka

    8 years ago on Introduction

     I am not real handy when it comes to things like this, but wouldn't it make sense to make 2 cross bars, or even 3 from long side to long side to support the box spring? then you wouldn't have to weld at the foot and head bars at all. instead of using such long lengths of pipes, use 2 more T's and add the supports?
    I love this bed, and would love to try it myself, but I guess I would appreciate some feedback if my idea would be feasible or not. GREAT IBLE !