How to Make a Cheap Inexpensive Bed Frame

Building a bed frame can also provide a sense of accomplishment.
Building a bed frame can also provide a sense of accomplishment. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

With a few basic tools and materials, you can build a sturdy bed frame. This project will take several hours to complete and can be left to sit if you need to take a break. The dimensions listed here are for a frame that will take a twin or long twin mattress. For larger mattresses, you'll need to add to the length and width dimensions of the side assemblies and slats, as well as to the length assemblies.

Things You'll Need

  • Electric drill with assortment of bit sizes
  • Wrench set
  • Wood glue
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood clamps
  • Sandpaper
  • 28 2-inch-long wood screws
  • 24 2-1/2-inch-long hex bolts
  • 24 standard nuts to match bolts
  • 2 6-inch by 1-inch by 84-inch boards
  • 2 2-inch by 1-inch by 82-inch boards
  • 2 6-inch by 1-inch by 40-inch boards
  • 2 2-inch by 1-inch by 38-inch boards
  • 8 4-inch by 1-inch by 40-inch boards

Clamp one 6-inch by 84-inch board on top of a 2-inch by 82-inch board. Make sure the long board extends an inch past each end of the shorter board. Also make sure that the two boards are flush with each other along one edge.

Drill three holes through both boards. Use a drill bit that matches the diameter of the bolts. Place one hole an inch from each end of the shorter board. Center the third hole between the two.

Apply wood glue to the side of the short board that will meet the long one. Make sure to apply the glue evenly.

Bolt the pieces together securely. Wipe away any excess glue and set the pieces aside to dry.

Repeat Steps 1 through 4 with the other 84- and 82-inch boards and again with the 40- and 38-inch boards. The long boards are the side assemblies, and the short ones are the end assemblies.

At both ends of the side assemblies, drill three pilot holes for the wood screws. Two holes should be located half an inch from the edges and end of the board, with a third hole centered between them and half an inch from the end. Use a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the chosen screws.

Fit one end of an end assembly up against the end of a side assembly so the pilot holes will guide screws into the end assembly. Make sure the bolts are at the bottom of both assemblies. The two assemblies should make a 90-degree angle.

Apply a thin layer of glue where the assemblies meet, and secure them with wood screws. Be careful with the joint, as it will not be very strong at this time.

Repeat Steps 7 and 8 at each corner of the rectangular frame. Make sure the bolted edge of the assemblies is always down.

Wipe away any excess glue and carefully set aside the frame to dry. Take special care with the corner joints, as they will not be very strong.

Drill a pilot hole in each end of a 4-inch by 40-inch board. The holes should be centered half an inch from each end. Repeat for each of the 4-inch by 40-inch boards. These will be the slats.

At each end of the frame, slide a slat into the frame and push it in so it is tight against the end assembly. Secure the slat with wood screws.

Slide another slat into the frame, leaving a 7-inch gap between it and one of the slats at an end. Secure it with screws.

Repeat Steps 11 through 13 until all the slats have been attached to the frame. Note that the last slat will be less than 7 inches away from the end of the frame. The frame should be solid now.

Sand all surfaces and edges smooth.

Tips & Warnings

  • The completed frame can be left rough or painted or varnished as desired.
  • When you adjust these directions to fit other bed sizes, add 1 inch to the width of the mattress for the length of the slats and end assemblies and 2 inches for the the length of the side assemblies.
  • You can add commercially available feet, if desired. Follow the instructions on the package for installation directions.
  • Be very careful with the corner joints prior to installing the slats. They may bend, causing damage to the wood or screws.

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