Build a bed with limited tools and limited space

Build a bed with limited tools and limited space

I frequently get requests from viewers who live in apartments or other small spaces and want to make stuff with a limited assortment of portable power tools. I built this twin bed in my driveway using a circular saw, a drill, and a few other inexpensive accessories.

This bed is sturdy and surprisingly simple to make. You can easily build it in a weekend. (Note: my plans are designed for a twin XL sized mattress.)

Twin size bed frame

Tools I used:
Cutting the lumber

Start by cutting all the 2x4s to their final lengths. Use a speed square to get square cuts. I like to cut off a little from the factory cut ends to make sure they are square.

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Adjust your saw to cut halfway through the thickness of a 2×4 and make a series of cuts, creating a half-lap joint.

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Line up the boards for the headboard and footboard on their edges, clamp them together, and make another series of notches. This time, set your saw to cut the full thickness of a 2×4.

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Next, glue and screw all the half lap joints together. I used two screws on each side of the joint.

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Here I’m gluing and screwing furring strips on the inside of the headboard and footboard “frames”. I held them flush with one face by raising them with a scrap of wood while drilling the screws in place.

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The wider furring strips drop onto that ledge and get screwed into place.

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I screwed the bedframe together and attached furring strips along the sides to hold the mattress slats.

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Assembly

Inside the bedroom, I attached the headboard and footboard to the frame by sliding them together in the notches and securing them with lag screws.

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I spaced the slats apart somewhat equally and held them in place with a single screw on each end.

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And finally dropped my Casper Mattress into place.

Casper Mattress

Plans

24 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Steve, I have watched your videos since the beginning, I like the way you make woodworking more human and easy.
    But since you went onto your new web site every time I click on your site it takes about 30 seconds to load. I have almost deleted your shortcut several time because it takes so long to load. I don’t know why this is so as it used to load quickly the same as all my other woodworking shortcut, but it is really irritating and I am hoping that you can do something about it.

  2. Was just saying the other day that I wanted to build a bed frame (and dressers … and night stands) so hopefully, I can adjust these plans to fit a queen bed.

    And as somebody who started out a little more than a year ago with EXACTLY the tools Steve used in this project, I think this is an excellent project. Those three tools and one set of closet shelves have greatly expanded my tool collection – and, obviously, my interest in woodworking – but now my problem is “limited space;” outdoor, patio shops in the middle of Downtown are great in the summer … but when the Midwest winter kicks in … there could be some issues!

    • I have been scratching my head about those too. The only place I can see they will fit is horizontally across the head and foot of the mattress.

      • If you count up all the pieces of wood needed in the pictures of the pdf it comes out to 48 pieces of wood needed. (pages 3-5) Then, if you do the same it comes out to 50 pieces of wood on the cut list unless if Steve added anything with out telling us, he just made a mistake with the dimension’s that’s all.

      • …sorry. My bad. Should have paid attention to the whole question. I see no use for those 2 pieces 37 1/2 inches.

  3. If I wanted to adapt this to queen size, would I have to do anything aside from adjusting the necessary lengths? So for example, would I need to add any kind of support in the middle for longer slats?

    • I’m doing that same revision (upsizing to a queen) now. I’ve added one additional 80″ long 2×4 running in the center from the top to the bottom with lap joints into the now 60″ long 2x4s that go across. I’ll bolt those 2 60″ 2x4s in place to make the bedframe easier to disassemble if/when I want to move it

    • Queen and king size beds need additional support in the middle. So adding a foot below 3 of your cross slats would be sufficient.

  4. I made this in my tiny little basement. Super easy and super strong. My daughters bed kept falling apart so I made this. Now we can all jump on it. Thanks 🙂

  5. This looks like another great project from Steve Ramsey. I built his woodworking workbench and adjusted the sizes to accommodate a desk top that I had salvaged. So changing measurements to fit can definitely be done. I to adjust the sizes of the head and foot boards to allow the addition of a box spring and mattress instead of just a mattress. Also plan to stain and poly urethane the sanded finish. Thanks again Steve!

  6. After about a month’s worth of work, I finally got the bed done with some help from a few of my sons. Looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight

  7. Steve;
    (or anyone who has already built this project)
    Looking to make two of these for my boys, but i do not see anywhere the size screws you use for the lap-joints. Guessing I would say 11/4, but would like to know for sure. also the length of the lag bolts.

    Thank you,
    Matt

    • Matt,

      I used 1 1/4″ screws for all of the lap joints (and for screwing the mattress slats in the frame). For the lag bolts, I used ones that were 5/16″ diameter and 2 1/2 long”

  8. How high is this off of the ground? It looks like it would be 8″. If I wanted to make it higher to incorporate a trundle bed, would I just move the notch up?

  9. I’m in the process of building this bed, using the limited tools described. One problem I’m running into is: how do I safely cut the 1.5″ furring strips to length? Cutting the furring strips isn’t shown in the video, and it seems like a precarious proposition to use the circular saw. I tried making one of the cuts freehand with a hacksaw I had and couldn’t make a straight cut, so I’m looking for other options. The thoughts that come to mind are borrowing a miter box or a miter saw from someone to make the cuts?

    • Follow-up to anyone who wanders to this page later – I borrowed a miter saw from a friend, and made the cuts that way.

  10. On to the next stuck point – on the footboard, the space in which to fit the drill/driver to screw in the long furring strips is really small. Do you simply glue the long furring strips in place and skip the screws, or is there some way to squeeze the impact driver in there? Any feedback from folks who have built this bed would be appreciated. I’m building the bed outside my apartment building on the weekends, dropping a power cord out a second story window, with a 1970s Workmate as my workbench.

    • I took a closer look at the video – there aren’t any screws, so it looks like Steve simply glued the furring strips in place on the footboard.

  11. FINISHED MY BED PROJECT WITH YOUR HELP EVERYTHING TURNED OUT GREAT. DONT BELIEVE THE MATTRESS COMPANIES……. THE ADVERTISED 39 INCH MATTRESS ACTUALLY IN CLOSER TO 37 INCH. THANKS AGAIN KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. BOB V.BOB VERHASSELT

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