How to Make a Cheap, Low-Profile Wooden Bed Frame




Introduction: How to Make a Cheap, Low-Profile Wooden Bed Frame

About: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through understanding, and strives to inspire others to lear...

This is how I made a low-profile bed frame cheaply from wood slats. 

We want our mattress low to the ground so if our daughter ever falls out of bed, she doesn't have far to go.  We learned the trick of putting the family bed on the ground from Christy's parents, and wanted to give it a try.  However, the floor in our bedroom is uninsulated, and putting a mattress directly against a cold floor is a great way to grow mold.  This frame raises the mattress 1.5 inches; just enough to ensure airflow.

Step 1: Build the Framing With Furring Strips

My local Home Depot had 1x3 8 ft pine furring strips (0.75 inches x 2.5 inches actual) for $1.22 each.  These things aren't particularly straight or high-quality, but they're perfect for my purpose.  I bought 23 of them and a box of 1 1/4 inch nails for a total cost just under $30.

I measured my mattress, then cut all the furring strips to the proper length with a chop saw.  

Step 2: Layout and Nail the Frame Together

Lay all the pieces out, and nail it together.  I used one of the furring strips as a spacer as I attached the slats to the frame. 

Note that if you only put one nail at each intersection, the whole thing can rack like a giant pair of scissors or a folding trellis. 

Step 3: Attach Felt Feet

I attached felt feet to the frame because I planned to place it directly on a hardwood floor.

Step 4: Mattress on the Frame

Here's the mattress on the frame.  Airflow underneath the bed is only occasionally blocked by bedding, and never on all four sides at the same time. 

Here's Corvidae climbing off the side of the bed.  When she manages to go head-first instead of her usual feet-first or hands-first, the resulting bump only requires some brief comforting, not x-rays.  We often put blankets and pillows around the edge of the bed for an even softer landing.  She can also crawl into the bed by herself and fall asleep.   



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32 Discussions

Woodprix is awesome, Im making all my woodworking projects with it

I'm about to make something very similar to this. I'll be sure to post it and let you know. Of course you've already made yours, but hey, just in case.

Good idea! Was thinking that attaching clean pallets together might also work for something like this.

My kids all slept with me when they were infants. Baby sleeps on the outside next to mom (me) and I slept on my side or on my back with baby on my chest.. ... I could feel the slightest movement from that baby and I would bet dollars to donuts that all moms are pretty much that way. I could open my eyes regularly during the night to check on baby...and I slept so light that I could hear that babies breath change at all. I believe that a baby is safer next to mom..and not in some cold room all alone. Just have to use a little common sense when sleeping with your child. I am so tired of all the comments about how unsafe it is to have your child in bed with you. I would guess the folks posting this bed design feels the same about now..

Our midwife warned us about having our baby in our bed.
It could cause overheating which is linked to SID.
Myself, I also had the fear of putting the blanked over our daughters head while I'm moving in my sleep.
"Avoid putting your baby to sleep in the family bed with parents and siblings. Adult bedding increases the risk of overheating, and suffocation - therefore increasing the risk of SIDS."
We put a crib in the parents bedroom  for the first 3/4 year and now she sleeps in her own room next to ours.
But in the morning we take her often for half an hour cuddling when shes awake :-)

10 replies

Thanks for your concern.  When she was first born, and before we were confident she could push bedding out of her face if necessary, we slept under a single sheet or with no bedding at all.

I did extensive research, and took this issue very seriously.  My brief conclusions:
1.  Infants don't regulate their breathing or temperature very well, and tend to sync both to an adult's by being in physical contact.  From a SIDS perspective, having an infant regulate her own breathing and temperature all night might be pretty risky.
2.  If you're not inebriated, there's little to no chance you'll rollover and suffocate an infant while asleep or ignore their cries if they get too hot.  You are well-tuned to your baby's needs even while asleep (from personal experience, this applies to fathers, too).   Do you think the folks that passed out drunk in bed with their infants would admit to doing so?  Consider a manslaughter charge versus an un-disprovable SIDS claim that only goes into the records of and the like -- you have to consider the incentives of the people from which data is collected. 
3.  We've slept with our young for millions of years, and much of the world continues to do so.  Anyone who suggests that sleeping with your child is dangerous is defying logic and lots of evidence to the contrary.

I still haven't gotten to the bottom of the motivation behind people who continue to make these claims.  I suppose it's just part of the "childhood should be completely sterilized" thinking that's currently in fashion.  It's ok to raise your child however you like, and to sleep with them or not; but, don't suggest that my doing so is dangerous, because it's not.  Do your own research and question the reasons behind ideas that don't make sense and don't feel right.

All your young child has is instinct, and if she wakes up to find herself alone, something might be terribly wrong -- she might have been left behind --, so she cries like crazy to get your attention and make sure everything is OK.  Why would you want to squash that instinct?

Finally, to end on a positive note, because Corvidae was in the same bed as mom, neither party had to be fully awake for feeding, and all three of us have gotten a full, normal night's sleep every night since she was born. 

Yo Eric, thanks for this entry, I'm going to do the same thing for our toddler's bed. I think getting it off the carpet by an inch or two will help with odor. We found using a queen mattress on the floor is a great way to go for a toddler. Whenever he needs company, one of us can just go over and sleep with him. Also, co-sleeping with the infants works great if you are breastfeeding. I'm a total convert. We had our first in a crib/bassinet, and our second co-sleeping. It's NO CONTEST - co-sleeping makes a happier baby at night, and we get way more sleep. Just buy a little hospital pad if you are worried about diaper leaking, spit-up, etc.

 I highly recommend that you guys read "Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa" by Katherine Dettwyler, shes an anthropologist who has done extensive work on child rearing and mothering. The book is not exclusively on child rearing practices, but it does mention bed sharing and a lots of other interesting cross-cultural bits. Based on what you each have written it seems obvious that you both are very caring parents and, as such, the more personal tone of the book and her reflections on parenting as an anthropologist may be really interesting for you guys.

Thanks!  The book is available at my library, and it's now in my queue. 

I'd just like to back these comments up with a hearty "us too".  This reads exactly like my defense of the same practices would.  Well said, sir!

There is a theory out there which postulates we are all born about 12 weeks premature. When you combine this idea with the theories of premie care you end up providing kangaroo care (holding your baby close to help her regulate herself).  Healthcare patient education tends toward the lowest common denominator, for legal reasons (I guess- probably more because it is easier/cheaper) so we teach everyone the same info that we teach the highest risk/ lowest functioning patients.
From my travels in other countries I would say co-bedding can't be too dangerous else there wouldn't be nearly 7 billion people on this planet (by that I mean- there is no central heating out there to keep babies warm folks!).
As the author says- Let's think for ourselves and  learn for ourselves!

Here's another point of view from Dr. Sears, along with some great tips:

I shared the bed with my little one. she was a summer baby and slept in a growbag on top of my bedding. When she shared with me i always made sure that i lay on my back or if on my side I'd lean back inot some pillows so there was no chance of rolling onto her. having a side board so she wouldn't roll off the otherside is also a good idea. :)

i guess what i'm saying is that it's safe if you are careful. :)

Recent research shows that these concerns are misguided.  SIDS is linked to parental smoking, intoxication, obesity, and various forms of suffocation due to inappropriate bedding (such as waterbeds and thick duvets.)  Governmental agencies, including the American Pediatricians Association, have opted to go for a simple message (don't sleep with your kids) instead of a more nuanced message (don't be dumb while sleeping with your kids.)

In fact, there are many known benefits to sleeping with your baby.  Newborn infants have poor control of body temperature and breathing, so can benefit by being in close physical contact with a parent.  Apnea decreases when an infant has an evenly-breathing adult to pattern off of, and direct skin contact helps normalize body temperature - a mother's bloodflow patterns actually adjust to help regulate a newborn infant's temperature.  Sleeping together makes for easier night feedings (especially if the baby is nursing) - I actually got MORE sleep after having a baby, and she was extremely well-fed and rested.

Evolution is also on the side of cosleeping - you come from a long line of people dating back millions who didn't die while sleeping with their parents!  (You're still pretty smart while you're asleep; how often you roll out of bed?)  In a pre-agricultural society, any child that awoke alone risked abandonment, so frantic screaming was a sensible survival strategy!  If your parent is there every time you wake, it's safe - stay calm.  There's a reason  Western-style "sleep training" is so hard - you're bucking instincts developed over millenia. 

So, with a few common-sense precautions, sleeping in the same bed turns out to be a major improvement in mental and physical health for both parents and baby! 

I was wondering about those three boards that are clustered together in the middle. Is that just a normal bed frame thing? Or was is a measurement error? Just wondering. I'm going to start making my frame tomorrow, getting the boards after work today.

2 replies

The width of the frame wasn't divisible by an integer number of furring strips, so I bunched the ones in the middle closer to together.  

Just wanted to add that a low-to-the floor bed works great for little ones even without being in Mom or Dad's bedroom.  (We didn't need a frame because our floor is insulated and warm, though, but I stumbled upon this from parenthacks.)  We found it to be a best-of-both-worlds cosleeping solution - room for either parent to spend as much time as the situation warranted snuggling with your child, no worries about falling out of the bed when baby's asleep and you're not, and as much bedding and room for adults as we wanted back in our own bed.

I suspect, btw, that you could cannibalize a broken futon frame of the right size to do the same sort of thing if you do need to raise the bed off the floor a bit.

This is awesome! I'm going to college and am thinking about making something similar for my new apt I will be moving into over the summer. I think I'm going to do two and bolt them together though, because I want them to be portable if I ever move to another apartment.  Thanks man!