how to make a wood bed frame

Holy heck … we made a wood bed frame!

diy wood frame bed

I didn’t have the heart to make those girls get up even though they wouldn’t look at the camera. #oldladydogslikemycompany #iheartthemtoo

I am so excited about this project!  Every time I look at it it’s like it says to me “See, you will live like regular people here soon, you will get there, I promise”. Because she knows that a home is so much more than just a shell.  And then I want to hug her and lay with her … which sounds weird … but she is a bed.

And then I just look at Joel and cock my head and smirk all arrogantly silently saying “Ha, no mattress on the floor up in this house!”.

And then I go into our master bedroom and see our mattress on the floor.

And I had never made a bed before.  Heck, I’ve never really made any kind of furniture. And this was another one of those ideas that percolated in my brain for a while, all by my lonesome … and we all know how I get with those kinds of solitary projects.

diy wood frame bed

And then a funny thing happened, I saw a random post on some social media outlet about a wood shim bed that Ana White had just posted plans for and with one quick glance at her plans I knew I could make this bed.

I just knew it.

Now, our bed is not a wood shim bed and does not follow Ana’s plans, but I did incorporate some of her design into our bed.  And somehow just reading through her plans gave me the confidence to make this bed happen.  So, high fives Ana!!  You were my cheerleader and you didn’t even know it.  :)

So, let’s get started, because I know you, too, can make your very own wood bed frame if you want to!

It really helped me to break it down so I could make sure I had my mind wrapped around exactly what I was going to do.

Bed Frame Design Concept

Legs – We had rescued a Dade County Pine post from our neighbor and I knew I wanted to use that for the legs.  You could use a 4″ x 4″ post or maybe find a post at a salvage yard or Habitat Restore.

Headboard and Footboard – I had a leftover piece of Purebond plywood from our closet shelves that would work.  Our closet shelves are 24 inches wide so we just ripped one leftover piece in half to create 2 12″ wide pieces.  One for the footboard and one to act as a support between the two front legs of the frame.  I knew I wanted to create a separate headboard that I could switch out if I wanted to so I did not incorporate an actual headboard into the design, just that piece for stability.

Side rails – I had enough leftover pieces of Purebond plywood that I knew I could piece them together for the side rails.  And I had leftover 3/4″ thick rope from a totally different project that I thought would be a fun detail in between the pieces together plywood.

Supplies if you’re Purchasing all Materials

wood bed frame supplies

  • take the measurements of your mattress and have pieces of Purebond plywood cut 12 inches high and the length of your mattress measurements
  • 8 1″ x 2″ trim pieces 8 feet long and by 2 of the same but 6 feet long*
  • 2 2″ x 4″ 8 feet long and 3 that are 10 feet long – these will be for the frame supports
  • 4″ x 4″ post for each leg, our legs are 25 inches long
  • 1 1″ x 6″ white wood board the same length as the width of your mattress plus the leg posts (to go across the top of the footboard and posts)
  • 2 and 3 inch screws
  • If you’re making a platform bed, without a box spring, you will also need a sheet of inexpensive plywood cut to size to serve as the mattress platform.
*Our mattress is a full, so any measurements I give are specific to our project, but just use the size of your mattress as your guide.

Now, I had already stained my plywood from the closet project and waited until the very end to stain the added 1″ x 2″ trim pieces.  You could stain all your pieces first, or once the side rails are assembled, or after … it doesn’t really matter.


  • screwdriver
  • miter saw
  • Kreg Jig Jr (or you could use L brackets to attach your rails to the legs)
  • tape measure
  • wood glue
  • hammer and finish nails or a finish nail gun

Based on the measurement of your mattress make all of your cuts

wood bed frame cuts

  • 4 legs of equal length (ours are 25″ and I used the first cut leg as a template to make sure each leg was exactly the same height)
  • 8 1 x 2′s the length of your side rails (ours are 76″)
  • 2 1 x 2′s the length of your footboard (ours is 53″)
  • 2 pieces of plywood 12″ high and the length of your footboard (ours is 53″)
  • 2 pieces of plywood 12″ high and the length of your side rails (ours are 76″, and I pieced together 3 scrap pieces on each side)
  • 2 2 x 4′s the length of your side rails plus 4 inches
  • 6 2 x 4′s the length of your footboard exactly

wood bed frame cut legs

Wood Bed Frame Section Assembly

The headboard support is the easiest – just drill your pocket holes with your Kreg Jig Jr into each end of the piece of plywood and attach with screws to two of the leg posts.

diy wood frame bed headboard assembly

I made the posts and plywood flush at the top and back, so the mattress wouldn’t sit out too far from the wall.  Here is what she looks like from the front, imagine our yard is actually the wall in the bedroom.

diy wood frame bed headboard assembly

Footboard – attach the 1×2 strips along the top and bottom edge of what will be seen at the end of the bed with wood glue and finish nails.

diy wood frame bed footboard assembly

Tip!!!  Nail with 1 1/4″ nails from the plywood side you your nails won’t be seen in your finished product.

diy wood frame bed footboard assembly

Side rails – If you are using full sheets of plywood the assembly is exactly the same as the footboard. Since I was piecing together scrap wood, I used 3 separate pieces of plywood …

diy wood frame bed siderail assembly

… and left a 3/4″ gap in between each …

diy wood frame siderail assembly

… for the added rope detail.

diy wood frame siderail assembly

You can see in that picture above that I stapled pieces of white fabric behind the rope sections, but it’s totally unnecessary.  And you can see off to the right that I did clamp together any sections that didn’t seem to hold tight with just the glue and nails.

If I had been totally on my game I would have added edge banding to the ends of the plywood by the rope, but I didn’t, and you can’t really tell.

And if you are a guest coming to stay with us and for some odd reason feel like you want to point out that you really can tell that I should have added that edge banding … I warn you now … hotel rooms in Key West are expensive … tread lightly.  :)

Now just drill your pilot holes in each end of each side rail and you’re ready to assemble the 2 x 4 frame supports that your mattress and/or box spring will rest on.

Oh, and we found wrapping the rope with painter’s tape where we wanted to cut it and just using a basic serrated knife worked great.

cutting rope with a knife

2″ x 4″ Bed Frame Support Assembly

To say I don’t have a good picture of this step is an understatement.  Sorry about that.  :/

But, you already have your pieces cut.  2 at the length of your side rails plus 4 inches and 6 at the exact same measurement as your footboard.

Just lay the two longer pieces parallel to each other and lay the other 6 down perpendicular to those creating a rectangle and attach.  I put ours 14″ apart.  :)

diy wood frame bed assembly

I used our framing nail gun with 3 1/4 inch nails, but you could use screws, you could drill pilot holes in each 2 x 4 use and use counter sunk screws, you could use L brackets … I might just like to come up a reason to use the framing nail gun whenever I can.  :)

I promise … a better picture of the assembled 2 x 4 frame is coming up.

Put her all together

Measure the height of your mattress and determine how high you want your bed to decide where to screw the 2 x 4 frame into each of the leg posts. diy wood frame bed assembly Two noteworthy points here – whether or not you should screw in your 2 x 4 frame all the way in by your headboard will be determined by your measurements … and many more details regarding that sad, mangled screw are coming in the next post. Screw your 2 x 4 bed frame into your side rails. diy wood frame bed assembly And where your pocket holes are accessible, screw your side rails into each leg post. diy wood frame bed assembly Since we only have a mattress for our guest bed, I had a sheet of inexpensive plywood cut to size to lay over the 2 x 4 frame … diy wood frame bed assembly

… and then I cut the 1 x 6 to lay flat over the footboard and leg posts and two little 1 x 6 pieces to cover the top of each front leg post … they overhang each end by 1/2″ and are attached with wood glue and small finish nails.

Then I added edge banding to the top of the headboard piece, …

diy wood frame bed … stained everything that needed it … diy wood frame bed … and then she’s ready for your mattress and your guests!! diy wood frame bed

And doesn’t she look so at home in the guest room?  I love her.  And she’s given this room a lot more street cred in the whole “I am a real room and people will come stay in me” department.

diy wood frame bed

But she’s also a little like “Hey cutie, what’s up?”

diy wood frame bed

Then she turns around and you’re all “Oh, sorry, I totally thought you were someone else”.  :)

And I’m not even going to tell you what’s going on behind me as I take these pictures.  Let’s just say you might still be able to see insulation … and there might even be a sheet stapled to the studs.

Cue the maniacal laughter as I’m smelling a secret project going on back there …

Dun Dun Dunnnnnnnnn

How’s that for a suspenseful, thriller-style ending?

We’ve got all of the windows and doors on order and should have them installed next week. Once that happens we’ll be free to finish up those last few walls with drywall and paint … among a bazillion other projects in other rooms … and get some more furniture set up in here.

That bed needs some company I say.

diy wood frame bed tutorial

And if you’ve missed any step of this room upgrade you can get all caught up right here.

TDC Before and After
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About Karah

I'm Karah and I'm so glad you're here! I'm a small town girl from the North East who finds myself moving around with my husband and pups every few years and constantly on a journey to make the most of every space we find ourselves in. That little space between what has been and what will be. It'd be so cool if you'd like to join us for the ride.
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38 Responses to how to make a wood bed frame

  1. cassie says:

    it looks awesome- rustic and cool and very west elm!

  2. I think you did a great job on that and you can add almost anything to the wall for an interesting headboard … smart thinking.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures

  3. thistle says:


    I noticed the bed in a picture on your blog the other day! You go girl! It looks amazing!

    Happy day to you!

  4. Holy crap!!!! I’m so freaking impressed! Seriously! Must pin and share!

    :) Linda

  5. bnlynn says:

    You are amazing. It’s that simple. Amazing. Done*, period, the end.
    (* or is it Dun Dun Dunnnnnn) :)

  6. Look at you!! All ready for my visit! ;-) I am in awe of this project — and that rope detail? shut UP!
    xo Heidi

  7. kirbycarespodi says:

    Again…an awesome tutorial from Karah! I am gearing up to put a headboard on the wall so that we can get rid of the bed who takes up too much space. He is OUTTA HERE!

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  9. Hey Karah, I’ve never built a bed, looking at your beautiful bed makes me want to go and grab the tools, you did a great job! That “Garrapata” sign made me laugh :D

  10. Oh my goodness! So pretty Kara! Great job!

  11. Abby says:

    This turned out so great! We have the same problem with our guest room…no bed frame. So, we might be trying to do the same thing very soon! You did a great job!

  12. Becca says:

    Love this! We’re getting ready to make our own frame as well. Thanks for sharing! Stop by my Friday’s Five Features and link up this post (and your slinky pumpkin)!

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  14. KARAH, I miss you!
    Hi. hehe
    Had to come get a good look at this and even slightly attempt to catch up.
    The bed (and the pups) are looking marvelous :)
    What an accomplishment. Dude, you BUILTABED.
    Happy Weekend!! Shannon

    • Karah says:

      I MISS YOU!!! I know we are both crazy busy, thank you for taking the time to stop by. Dude, you could totally build a bed too, I’ve seen your skillz! :)

  15. Joe says:

    Like that raw wood finish that you have left on the legs.
    This is so easy to follow steps that you have given.

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  19. Oh my gosh, my cat would tear that rope out faster than you can sneeze. Lol. I’d have to craft replaceable sisal scratch pad sections instead :-O

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  21. Jim says:

    I’m glad to see someone else reclaims wood for projects. I hate throwing good lumber away. Like your idea of the rope to hide joints. I wish my wife would help with some woodworking projects. Good job, Karah.

    • Karah says:

      Thank you so much, Jim. I hate throwing good lumber away, too! I’m actually in the process of writing a book all about reclaimed wood projects. :)

  22. Gene says:

    In one of the pictures it seems the 2×4 are on the bottom of the side boards but the next picture shows plywood on top?????

    • Karah says:

      Hmmm, I’m not sure which pictures you’re referring to, I didn’t use any 2x4s for this project. I used 1 x 2s. If you can reference a specific picture I can try to help you more. :)

      • Karah says:

        I think I got it, I did use 2 x 4s as the bed support and then put plywood on top of them because we don’t have a box spring, you wouldn’t need the plywood if you have a box spring. I hope that helps!

  23. MsCoren says:

    Im new to your site and have to tell you-I LOVE IT! My Sweety and I (mostly him) do some diy around the house.. I found this post a few months ago and lost the site when my pc got wiped clean…we plan to build my niece and maybe sister a bed to help save on the cost of a bed rm set. I found this bed and REFUSED to use another design.. lol-he said cant you find another? NO. I loved that one and want to use it-soo happy I found your site again and the bed project! when we make it-I will somehow send you the pics to see how ours turned out!
    Thank you again!
    ps. do you get your tools from 2nd hand stores? our biggest issue is not having the right tools for the projects we want to do!

    • Karah says:

      Hi!! Thank you for such a nice comment! I’m so glad you love the bed, I would love to see pics of your own!! As for tools, I haven’t bought any second hand, we do enough DIY that it is worth the investment to buy new. Ryobi has a good line of battery operated tools at a reasonable price point and for something a little more heavy duty we love Ridgid, they offer a lifetime warrenty as well so it’s worth a few extra dollars for that piece of mind. You are so right, the right tools make the projects so much easier. Have fun with the bed project, even if you’re just the one taking the pictures :)

Let me know what you think!