How to Build a Wood Bed Frame & Headboard


This can be plain or fancy!

Things You'll Need

  • saw, drill screwdriver, wrench set,
  • First decide what size bed you want. It won't cost much to build a King size bed but don't forget you have to get a mattress and sheets. Everything including blankets will run up the price of your bed covers. Sheets vary in price so choose according to your needs and budget

  • You can build the bed frame with plain pine bolted together and then paint or stain to your taste. There are also many veneers that can be applied over wood and look quite nice. You could also buy the higher grades of lumber and let all the wood be exposed. The Work is not that hard so it will be easy to make it look nice.


    You will need to pick out your mattress set and then build your frame to that size. The mattress salesman will be able to help you with the correct dimensions.
    Overall: 85" x 91" x 60"
    Headboard: 85" x 2" x 60"
    Footboard: 85" x 3" x 28"
    Frame and Rails: 86" x 5" x 2"

    Whatever size bed you build you will need two end boards and two side boards.
    The smallest size lumber I would use is two by sixes which are actually five and one half inches wide by one and one half inches thick.

  • You can drill at least two holes into the end of the side boards. These will be just a little bit smaller than the rough threads of the screw bolts and deep enough so the bolt will stop when the coarse threads end. Put two nuts on the fine threads using two wrenches and tighten them against each other. Then screw the bolt in using a wrench on the top nut. Screw the bolt in until it reaches the part with no threads. Repeat for all .

  • You should have enough of the fine thread sticking out of the side boards to attach the end boards. Do both ends of both sides.
    You can add optional angle braces after everything is bolted together.

  • Make sure the bolt is long enough to go through the end board. Then drill a matching hole for each bolt. Slip the end board on then the washers then the nuts. Tighten all until snug. You can countersink them or not.
    Repeat for other end.

  • The head board and foot board can be added last or left off completely. You can build it with or without legs. They can be found at large home stores.

    Now you add the sills to support the box frame. They can be purchased as two by twos which will actually be one and one half inches by one and one half inches. They are bolted to the side boards.

  • There are other methods but bolting the pieces together would be best so you can take it apart when you move.
    All the hardware can be matched to size so you don't have to fool with a lot of different wrenches. Through bolts or machine bolts would work for the headboard, foot board and sills. Also could use lag bolts. Screw bolts would be good for attaching the side rails together.

    • When you figure out where all the bolts go and what type, some of them will need to be countersunk.
  • After you have bolted the frame together you can add legs or not. I have seen people use everything from concrete blocks to a stack of old books with the frame just sitting on them. Remember as you are bolting the frame together you will want it to be strong but easy to take apart. Go ahead and use extra bolts, you will only be taking it apart a few times in your life.

  • Another option is to let the headboard and foot board be the legs. You can bolt the frame at whatever height suits your style. Use through bolts so you will have maximum strength. At least four on each end.

  • You shouldn't need slats with modern box frames but if you do just cut them to size from one by fours. You can also use a little smaller mattress by using slats.

  • You don't have to have a headboard but they can be a lot of fun. I have seen them made out of everything from old doors to a piece of brightly painted plywood. You can get really creative and have lots of fun here. Before you bolt it on just stand the headboard up at the head of the bed and see how it looks. I have seen people use old headboards they found being thrown out. Many don't even have to be bolted, they stand perfectly well between the bed and the wall.

Tips & Warnings

  • Double check your measurements before you cut.
  • Don't try to do it all in one day.
  • Have someone help you.
  • Wear safety glasses when cutting.

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  • Photo Credit All drawings copyright D A Machado 2009
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