King Bed Build Plan

When you’re on a budget and have something specific in mind, DIY is such a good option, allowing customization and a lower price point than most store options.  That’s how our king sized bed came to be, and cost less than $200 for every last supply.


Fortunately, this wasn’t our first bed building experience-we made a captains bed for our smaller bedroom at our last house and a bed for each of the boys about two years ago.


In fact, the process for creating our bed was very similar to the steps we used to make a set of twin beds.  First, we cut a 4 by 4 post into 16 inch lengths, then running the sides through the table saw to create a 3 1/4 inch square, just to take the rounded edges off, looking less like dimensional lumber.  With a sander, I angled the tops of each post an eighth of an inch, just to ease the seam.  Here’s a normal post next to a finished one for comparison.


To securely fasten the side rails into the posts, we measured 1 1/2 inches and 6 1/2 inches down from the top of the post.  For the head and foot rails, we measured 2 inches and 6 inches down.  Staggering the screws is a very important step because the screws are going in perpendicular and you don’t want them to hit.  It’s easiest to place the post in the corner and mark 3/4 of an inch in from the edge where the rail will go in.  Pre drill holes through the post, keeping the drill as plumb as possible to avoid the screws going in wonky.


For a beefier, well proportioned bed we used 2 by 10 boards for the rails, with a half strip of 2 by 4 nailed along the base.  Again, we ran each through the table saw to cut away the rounded corner.


Large beds are difficult to maneuver, getting around corners and through doors, so we built each side to come apart easily.  For even easier disassembly/moving, Ben attached spacers to the side rails, leaving enough room for a vertical 2 by 4 between each.  These keep the mattress cross supports in place without nails, meaning the supports are removable without tools!


Along the head and foot rails, we secured a 2 by 4, to give the OSB a ledge to rest on, keeping it flush with rest of the cross supports.


Below, the rails are ready for the corner posts.



On a level surface, lay all the pieces out upside down, which keeps the tops of the rails and posts flush.  Then drive a 6 inch long screw through the post and into each rail.


While still in the garage, we assembled the bed to make sure everything fit, then took the side rails apart, leaving the legs attached to the head and foot sections before staining.


Our finishing cap that covers the posts and rails is also a 2 by 4, but planed down to a 1 inch thickness and cut to match the post width of 3 1/4 inches.


Mitered corners on the foot end, but a square-cut at the head end to tuck under the headboard.


Once stained, oiled, and dry, we hauled the pieces up and put it back together, just like Humpty Dumpty.  In go the cross supports, spaced 16 inches on center.  Ben builds everything to allow a large pachyderm to be able to use it, so no creaking, squeaking, or wobble going on here.


Then the OSB sheeting.


The headboard is a sheet of OSB cut two inches narrower than the frame, then the edges are thickened up with a half strip of 2 by 4.  I wrapped batting, then the velvet over, stapling to the underside of the 2 by 4 edge.  Once the upholstery was done, we nailed a 1 inch wide wood strip around the sides to finish it off.


Two by six sections run vertically, screwing into the back side of the head rail to attach the headboard.  Overall, the bed took us about 6 or 8 hours to build and finish from scratch.  And in those hours, we saved roughly 1600 dollars, which is far more than my hourly pay rate of nothing.

13 thoughts on “King Bed Build Plan

  1. I just have a quick question because I might be building a bed frame myself soon. Aren’t you supposed to leave some holes under the mattress for air circulation? For me it looks like you don’t have that with the OSB sheets put in there.

    1. Hi Judith!

      Good question! We’ve had our mattress on a platform for 8 or so years without issue, so we didn’t find it necessary. Maybe our house isn’t humid enough to be a problem? If you’re worried about it for your bed, I’d add the holes just to play it safe.


  2. We just (as in yesterday) upgraded to a king and I build this bed for it! Sans headboard because I want to do a diamond tufted headboard and the supplies for that are pushing another $100, easily. But it’s the biggest thing I’ve ever built, the first thing I’ve ever stained, and I’m so crazy in love with it. Even my father-n-law (who, while well-meaning, always seems just a bit too surprised when I do the DIY work) was impressed. Thank you for the inspiration and figuring out the “guts”.

    1. Hi Cassandra!

      This plan is for a king bed, but it would be easy to tweak the measurements for a Cal king if you need to. Just add an inch on each side and the bottom. 😀


  3. Love the bed will be making one for my bedroom redo, it will make an awesome addition. Question please, I have purchased a memory foam mattress a good one but is 4 inches thick, should I get a box or maybe a 3/4 box to get it up like the one you did. thank you.

  4. What are your interior dimensions of the bed frame? A king bed is 76×80… trying to decide if I should make it 1” wider all around, 2, etc.


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