Cheap, Easy, Low-waste Platform Bed Plans




About: Craftsman of fortune. Less is more, and simpler is better.
2019- Note: this ‘ible has tons of views and comments, many asking for dimensions for other mattress sizes. I, and many other kind users, have replied to many of them with the dimensions for just about every bed size available. Many have also posted pictures.

Build a queen size platform bed on the cheap, with storage space underneath, for less than $30, in about an hour, and learn some basic carpentry skills in the process. Please read the "design objective" below.

For similarly easy shelving plans, see:
For similarly easy dining table plans, see:

As a professional carpenter, furniture maker, and designer/builder, I see a lot of home carpentry projects that are grossly overbuilt and over-engineered. One of the goals of this Instructable is to avoid the unnecessary overbuilding that I frequently see on this site, and that I see every day working in the residential construction industry. Many of the building methods we (in the US) use today are horribly wasteful despite the advances that have been made in materials science and structural engineering, because most people in the residential building industry, from architects and engineers to carpenters, are mired in tradition, doing things a certain way "because that is how it has always been done", rather than consulting the best available science, or even questioning their own assumptions about "the right way to do it". I don't intend to knock tradition, either. Many of the tricks, techniques, and tools that I use daily are definitely "old-school", but seem to have been forgotten.

This bed is designed to be cheap, lightweight, sturdy, and produce a minimum of waste, using a minimum number of tools. It is intended for use with a futon or mattress without a boxspring and provides storage space underneath sized to fit common cheap plastic storage bins. It also provides good ventilation for the futon or mattress, something that I learned was necessary after my expensive futon grew a large mold/mildew patch on the underside. For those who might think that this bed is flimsy, my wife and I use it nightly, and I am 6'-5" and weigh 240lbs. I wouldn't jump up and down in the middle of it, but it will easily take any other abuse you commit upon it. When I calc it out, this bed uses 23.16 board feet of lumber (1 bd.ft.= 144, or 1.93 cubic ft., and produces only 42 cubic inches of waste, about 1.25%.

Instructables member frazeeg has posted a SketchUp model here.

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Step 1: Materials and Tools

I was able to pick up these materials locally for just under thirty bucks. Bonus points for using reclaimed or scrap lumber.


(4) 14' 1x4 #3 and better pine
(1) 10' 1x4 #3&btr pine
(2) 10' 2x4 Std&btr fir larch
(8) 3" #10 wood screws
(72) 2" #10 wood screws

Try and pick fairly straight, pitch (sap) free lumber, if your local lumberyard lets you do so. Some yards are stingy about this. Try telling them that you are building a bed, and that you would rather not have pitch all over your mattress/futon and floor.

The finished dimensions of the top of the bed are 76" x 55". A queen mattress is 60" x 80". The slight mattress overhang covers up the ends of the slats and keeps the user from bumping their legs on them, and uses standard lumber lengths efficiently.

A note on screws: I am a professional carpenter and furniture maker, and I make things easier on myself by NEVER using Phillips head screws. The Phillips head was designed to "cam out" at a fairly low torque for assembly line work before the advent of adjustable torque limiting drill/drivers. I use only Robertson square drive or Torx head screws, and save myself a lot of time and frustration.


Saw (Skil, hand, jig, or miter. Shown is a Skil)
Square (Speed, framing, or try. Shown is a speedsquare)
Tape measure
Drill (Cordless or corded)
Appropriate driver bit for your screws
#10 pilot bit/countersink

Step 2: Measure, Measure, Mark, and Cut.

Yes, measure twice. There is very little waste from this project, and consequently little room for error. A mis-cut will most likely mean another trip to the lumberyard.

Start by checking both ends of each board for square, and mark and trim square if necessary. Never assume that anything about a board is square.

From three of the 14' 1x4's cut nine pieces at 4'-7" each.
From the fourth 14' 1x4 cut one piece at 4'-7" and five pieces at 1'-9"
From the 10' 1x4 cut one piece at 4'-7" and three pieces at 1'-9"
From each 10' 2x4 cut one piece at 4'-0" and one piece at 5'-11"

Step 3: Predrill, Countersink

Measure and mark both ends of the shorter 2x4's (on the broad face) 3/4" in from the edges and 3/4" in from the ends. The picture makes this much more clear. Predrill and countersink with the #10 bit. You will be drilling two holes in each end of each short 2x4, eight holes in all. After this step, there is no need to predrill any more holes, so put the countersink away.

Step 4: Assemble and Square Up Frame

Assemble the 2x4 frame, using the 3" screws to attach the shorter 2x4s to the longer 2x4s, "capping" the ends of the longer 2x4s (refer to diagram). Don't worry too much about keeping the frame square, just suck the screws up tight. Once you have the frame assembled, measure from corner to corner diagonally across the frame. Push and pull the frame, checking the measurements frequently, until the measurements are the same (about 88-3/16" in this case). When they are, the frame is square. Yes, I know, it could be a trapezoid, but if your components are reasonable close to the right length, it will be square enough. This is one of the processes used to square up anything larger than your largest reliable squaring device, from foundations to windows, and no math is required. Use one of the 4'-7" 1x4 slats attached with two 2" screws across one of the corners of the frame to keep it square temporarily.

Step 5: Lay Out and Attach Slats

This step may sound confusing, but look at the photos and read the steps as you act them out. It is also confusing because the tape will "read" upside-down, since for some stupid reason, a "right handed" tape measure is designed to be held in the right hand, with the left hand making the marks. Most carpenters, myself included, hold it in the left and make marks with the right, and learn to read the tape upside down. "Left handed" tapes are available, but I have yet to find one that will stand up to the daily abuse and none are 30' long, the length I most commonly use.

1) Turn the frame over so that the cross brace is underneath.
2) Face a long side of the bed frame.
3) Holding the tape in your left hand, hook the end on the edge of the frame on your right.
4) With your right hand, make marks at the following lengths, and draw an X to the right of them.


5) Make the last mark at 71-1/2" and this time make the X to the left of the mark.
6) Repeat the process, but in mirror image, along the other long side of the frame.

Attach the slats using (4) 2" screws per slat. Place each slat over each X and align the slat edge with the layout line. Use a scrap of 1x4 to gauge the overhang as in the second photo. Note that the first and last slats will overhang the top and bottom of the frame be 1". Check the slats for bow, and put it up, so the weight of the futon pushes it flat later.

If you can't find the eleventh slat, it is still screwed to the bottom of the frame to keep it square. Taking it off now is O.K., because the screws through the slats will hold everything square.

Step 6: Build and Attach Legs

Butt two of the 1'-9" 1x4s together along their edges, at a 90 degree angle, and join with three 2" screws. Repeat until you have four legs.

Turn the bed over, so that it is slats-down. Place a piece of 1x4 scrap in the inside corner of the 2x4 frame. Insert a leg, butting it to the 1x4, and attach it with (2) screws per 1x4, on the diagonal. Look at the photo. Remove the scrap, move it to the next corner, and repeat. The gap provided by the scrap helps to prevent squeaks.

Pay attention to the orientation of the legs, because in cross section one side is longer than the other. Structurally, it doesn't matter, but if you take the time to make a symmetrical layout, it will look better.

Step 7: Admire and Enjoy Your Work

Flip it back over, put a mattress on it, and try to fend off all your friends who want one too. I charge $30 plus a 12-pack of beer for mine, but you can work that out on your own.

65 People Made This Project!


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996 Discussions

I guess platform beds are like kittens, peanut butter cups, and potato chips: hard to stop at one!

I built a queen platform for myself this past weekend. I managed to get the Spax screws at Home Despot, but still had to settle for the loathsome Philips. (Which ended up causing problems, mainly fatigue from fighting the camming-out.) Another lesson learned with this project:check the angle on your table saw blade EVERY TIME, even the NEXT DAY. Most of my cuts were at a slight angle, very slight, because my blade got angled just enough from the previous day's cutting. On the slats and legs, this was not a big deal. On the one long frame piece, it was a "use a hacksaw to cut off a slice to square off the end of the lumber because otherwise there will not be a good joint" deal.

The building did go faster this time. Still not a two-hour job, but faster. The lumber and screws cost $40. I ended up with a number of 1.5" pieces (that I'm going to use for another project) because it was cheaper to buy 6' lengths of wood than 12'. (6' 1x4 at my HD was $1.99, 12' 1x4 was triple that.) I had to predrill everything again. Even with better screws, the wood split. Grrr.

After sleeping on my mattress on the floor for nearly a year (hey, divorced lady, should've taken the King bed frame!), this bed feels really high in the air. It's great!

I got the uncut lumber into the Crown Vic this time (last time, I had some pieces cut first, this time I didn't.) It took a while! I've included a pic for proof. ^__^

Pic 1 is the bed, all dressed up. I'm using a king comforter and flat sheet. (Bed linens were all sourced from discount stores like TJ Maxx. Still expensive, but much nicer than what the same money would buy for "current season" linens.) 
Pic 2 is to show the awesome storage under.
Pic 3 is construction, using a sewing table and the first platform bed as sawhorses.
Pic 4 is "How to get 13 pieces of lumber in a car."

Next project: building your bookshelves to make swell room dividers. Can hardly wait.

3 replies

Reply 11 months ago

Lovely! Would you mind sharing the dimensions use used for your boards, and how much more lumber did you need?


Reply 24 days ago

Sorry to take so long to answer!
I think the legs were 24” or 28”, I can’t say for sure as I built this 9 years ago!
The dimensions for the top are the same as a queen mattress.


8 years ago on Introduction

Just so ya'll know, if you use an impact screwdriver and not a drill driver the phillips head screws go straight in. I was using a drill with a bit to run 4 inch screws into the studs of a wall and when the drill gets loose and jumps the track while your still pressing in it just eats the screw head. Not so with impact driver. I have never had the impact driver jump out the track of a phillips head screw, even once its all the way in it'll keep driving. Impact drivers are awesome!! I have a Ridgid at home and the new little 12V Dewalt for work.

15 replies

Reply 2 years ago

I was still having trouble stripping the phillips heads even with using an impact driver I borrowed from work, and drilling pilots. Needed to put a lot of pressure to prevent the bit from slipping. After I was done, the bit was all chewed up and twisted.

Maybe the type of screws I used were the problem? They had about 1/2" area below the head where there were no threads and the shank was thicker.


Reply 2 years ago

Were you using the right size of Phillips bit? If you could post pictures of the bit and the screws, that would help diagnose what went wrong.


By the way here is my twin version. It is kinda high for my liking and for kids to climb onto so I think I am going to chop the legs in half. It was nice to put those kids jumpers and walkers under there for a while.


Reply 3 years ago

Do you have a supply list/dimensions for this twin? Aspiring woodworker, quick learner moving into a van to go travel/live in and this seems like the simplest and most useful one i have found so far. Thanks!


Reply 3 years ago

Hello, I actually took the bed down a while ago. It started creaking when climbing in and out. Just being held together with screws. Might help to throw some glue in there unless you want to be able to take it apart easy.

I didn't make a material list of what I used but I made it to fit under a twin which is 38 x 75 mattress. I found some boards from it though. The boards on top are 32 inches long. I only used 9 of them and spaced it out to 72 I think. I ended up cutting the legs down to 14.5 inches long. That's the whole board. so it was 10 or 11 inch floor to frame. Don't hold me to this but the frame I think was 2 - 2x4 at 25 and 2 - 2x4 at 70.


Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

Thanks for the pics. I bought an impact driver several years ago, immediately after borrowing a co-workers. Unfortunately, I used it so much that it was in the shop being repaired when I made this Instructable. They were also really expensive at the time, so I didn't think many do-it-yourselfers would have/want to buy one. I frequently use mine to drive 12" to 20" long "timberlock" or "olly" screws while timberframing and installing SIPS panels, and have even used it to remove the lugnuts on my truck a time or two, not to mention siding two houses using solely screws as fasteners, and half a dozen+ metal roofs. Impact drivers rock, and are, IMHO, the best cordless tool invention ever.


Reply 4 years ago

2015: places rent tools
(Goes off to look up "impact driver".)


Reply 3 years ago

ok um... so your comment and a professional carpenter's comment about this is a little worrisome.
That is why a screw driver has a setting (usually) like a 1-10. Its not just speed (which the fast one usually has a drill icon) but also a torque / tensioner. Similar to the low gear of a car, slower is more powerful. At the point the drill meets too much resistance it ratchets as to not cause damage to the drill motor / gears. If you have a cheap little drill it will happen a lot. I am surprised the the whole Philips head comment. Of course a torque wrench or pneumatic / impact will do the job, the FPS of torque is significantly higher....


Reply 3 years ago

It's all in the proper explanation. I did not mean screwdriver. I did mean impact. A screwdriver has a clutch which will slip at the setting selected, Impact driver drives screws like a hammer drives nails


Reply 3 years ago

Yes. But a Phillips head was originally designed to cam out at a particular torque. A Torx or star drive or Robertson or square drive or hex head was designed to stay engaged.

The big differences between drill/drivers and impact drivers are

1) drill/drivers have adjustable speed and torque settings, and a three jaw chuck. They can be used to drive screws and drill holes. They are better for drilling holes.
2) impact drivers suck at drilling holes, because they have a non-adjustable retractable collet type chuck, and are single speed. They excell at driving screws, and require almost no down pressure on the bit to do so, provided you are using a screw that isn't a Phillips head. A 18v impact driver will drive a 24" long 1/4" hex head screw into solid kiln-dried Douglas Fir, and sink the washer head an inch or more. A drill/driver won't.
3) drill/drivers are very big and heavy, compared to impact drivers, and must be firmly pressed into the work while resisting the torque generated. I'd rather pack an impact driver around.
4) impact drivers can be held with two fingers, a thumb, and a limp wrist once the fastener is started in the material, and it drives a screw much faster on it's single speed than a drill/driver can on it's highest torque (slowest speed) setting. If you are driving 5000 deck screws in a day, this makes a huge difference.

Both tools have their appropriate uses: an impact driver is only for driving screws, and excels at it. A drill/driver does both, but only acceptably, and is really better for drilling holes.

I use both, for their most suitable uses only.


Reply 3 years ago

After reading on this thread about impact drivers (and having a regularly sore wrist), I went out and bought a Milwaukee M12 Fuel Impact driver and it stopped before the torx screws went in all the way. It seemed to stop leaving the top part of the screw out... where there are no threads. Is this drill just too wimpy or am I doing something wrong? I tried it on the #1 and #2 settings both with same results. I'm using Torx self-driving screws. It happened with all lengths of screws. Thanks for any suggestions!


Reply 3 years ago

The M12 1/4 hex impact 12volt? It claims 1000 in-lbs at peak which is about 83 ft-lbs. By comparison an 18 volt ridgid is 1750 in-lbs or 145 ft-lbs. That may be the problem. You could countersink for the screw heads. I haven't seen impact drivers with settings other than variable speed in the trigger