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How to Build an Adjustable Bed Frame in 7 Steps

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  • This article was written by Joshua Lewis – an academic writer and keen DIY enthusiast – to ensure maximum factual accuracy and unique content.

An adjustable bed provides a customizable sleeping surface that can help to alleviate back pain, GERD, acid reflux, snoring, and other conditions that may negatively impact your sleep.

If you are DIY savvy then you might enjoy the challenge of building your own adjustable bed frame from scratch and saving yourself some money in the process.

So how do you build an adjustable bed frame?

To build an adjustable bed frame: build the headboard, make the footboard, attach the side rails, construct the slats, place down two adjustable slat sheets, and add the adjustable panel.

The rest of this article expands on these points in exact detail so that you can build your own adjustable bed frame in 7 steps.

This project is for intermediates and will take around 2-3 days.

The estimated cost is around $200.

Need an easier solution? Then take a look at my list of the best adjustable beds to buy online here to save you time and ensure that you are getting a high-quality bed that’s safe to use.

How to Build an Adjustable Bed Frame

To build an adjustable bed frame that allows you to alter the angle of your mattress, follow the 7 steps outlined below (the bullet points summarize the steps – see the subheadings for more details):

1: Gather the Tools and Materials

To build this adjustable bed, you will need the following tools and equipment:

1.1: Required Equipment and Tools

  • Wood glue and wood filler.
  • Pocket jig.
  • Woodscrews: boxes of ½” ,1”, 1 ½”, 2”and 2 ½”.  
  • 4/6 standard metal hinges.
  • 2 steel handlebars measuring 25” in length and 15” in height (or less).
  • Mitre or circular saw.
  • Jigsaw.
  • Orbital or sheet sander (180-220 grit sandpaper).
  • Drill (with a countersink bit).

1.2: Required Materials and Sizes

The sizes and measurements needed to cut each component for this project are stated below (with an estimated cost of $150 – $200):

  • 2”x 2” measuring 24” in length (x2) for the footboard legs.
  • 2”x 2” measuring 44” in length (x2) for the headboard legs.
  • 2”x 2” measuring 55” in length (x2) for the head/footboard top rails.
  • 1”x 4” measuring 51” in length (x7) for the middle panels of the footboard (2) and for the headboard (5).
  • 1”x 8” measuring 70” in length (x2) for the side rails.
  • 1”x 2” measuring 70” in length (x2) for the side rail supports.
  • 1”x 2” panels that measure 53” in length (x10) for the standard slats.
  • ½” measuring 53” in length and 15” in width (x2) for the slat sheets.
  • ½ bar stoppers measuring 1” in width and 25” in length (x8) to be placed onto the slat sheets to stop the adjustable bar.
  • 1” panels measuring 57” in length and 20” in width (x2) as the adjustable panels.
  • 1” panel measuring 57” in length and 30” in width to be the central panel.

2: Build the Headboard

The first step is to build the headboard by following the steps below:

  • Cut the 2”x 2” headboard legs and check they are the same size (44”).
  • Place them vertically on the floor so they are parallel to each other with a gap of 51”.
  • Cut the 55” headboard top rail and place it horizontally across the top of the legs ensuring the ends line up.
  • Cut the five middle panels, sand all pieces with 160+ grit sandpaper and stain appropriately.
  • Lay the first middle panel in-between the legs leaving a 2” gap from the top rail.
  • Place the second and third middle panel 4” down from the first panel, leaving a 1” gap in-between.
  • Repeat with the fourth and final middle panel 4” below the third panel.
  • Hold the structure together with wood glue.
  • Make two pocket holes on each end of the middle panels going into the legs and secure with 2” woodscrews.

More details below:

2.1: The Headboard Legs and Top Rail

Use a Mitre/circular saw to crosscut three pieces of 2”x 2”, one measuring 55” and the other two measuring 44”.

Sand the pieces down with 160+ grit sandpaper and stain if you wish, leaving at least 20 minutes to dry.

Place the two legs vertically on the floor so they are parallel and line up in height and space them 51” apart.

Place the 55” piece horizontally across the top ends of both legs, ensuring the ends line up at a right angle.

Make a pocket hole at the top of both legs just under the top rail on the inside, making sure the hole goes upwards into the ends of the top rail.

Use glue to hold it together and secure it with 2” woodscrews.

2.2: The Middle Panels

Use a Mitre/circular saw to crosscut five pieces of 1”x 4” measuring 51” in length.

Sand down the pieces, ensuring the ends are sanded down lightly, and stain as you wish.

Once dry, place one panel horizontally in-between the two legs that is 2” from the top rail.

Proceed to place two more panels 4” below this panel, leaving a 1” gap in between.

Do this again with the fourth and fifth panels, making sure that this time they are 4” below the third panel.

Once the panels are placed, use wood glue to hold the structure together.

Proceed to make two pocket holes with the pocket jig on each end of the five middle panels going outward into the legs.

Use 2” woodscrews to secure this structure together.

Use the diagram below to help you:

Headboard for Adjustable Bed
Headboard for Adjustable Bed

3: Make the Footboard

Follow the instructions below to build the footboard:

  • Cut the 2”x 2” footboard legs and check they are the same size (24”).
  • Place them vertically on the floor so they are parallel to each other with a gap of 51”.
  • Cut the 55” footboard top rail and place horizontally across the top of the legs. 
  • Cut the two middle panels, sand with 160+ grit sandpaper and stain.
  • Lay the first middle panel in-between the legs leaving a 2” gap from the top rail.  
  • Place the second panel 4” down from the first panel.
  • Hold the structure together with wood glue.
  • Make two pocket holes on each end of the two middle panels going into the legs and secure with 2” woodscrews.

More details below:

3.1: The Footboard Legs and Top Rail

Use a Mitre/circular saw to crosscut three pieces of 2”x 2” like the headboard, but with one measuring 55” and the other two measuring 24”.

Sand the pieces down with 160+ grit sandpaper and stain if you wish, ensuring you let the pieces dry.

Place the two legs vertically on the floor so they are parallel and line up in height and space them 51” apart.

Place the 55” piece horizontally across the top ends of both legs, ensuring the ends line up at a right angle.

Make a pocket hole at the top of both legs just under the top rail on the inside, making sure the hole goes upwards into the ends of the top rail.

Use glue to hold it together and secure with 2” woodscrews.

3.2: The Middle Panels

Use a Mitre/circular saw to crosscut two pieces of 1”x 4” measuring 51” in length.

Sand down the pieces, being light on the ends, and stain.

Place one panel horizontally in-between the two legs that is 2” from the top rail.

Proceed to place the other panel 2” below the first panel.

Once placed, use wood glue to attach them to the footboard structure.

Proceed to make two pocket holes with the pocket jig on each end of the two middle panels going outward into the legs.

Use 2” woodscrews to secure this structure together.

See the diagram below for guidance:

Footboard for Adjustable Bed
Footboard for Adjustable Bed

4: Attach the Side Rails

Now it’s time to build and attach the side rails as follows:

  • Cut two pieces of 1”x 8” to measure 70” in length.
  • Cut two pieces of 2”x 2” to measure 70” in length also.
  • Sand down both pieces and stain.
  • Attach the 2”x 2” to one long edge of the 1x 8” piece with wood glue, ensuring their ends line up equally.
  • Make 8 pocket holes along the bottom of the 1”x 8” piece going into the 2”x 2” piece and secure with 2” woodscrews.
  • Make a pencil mark on the four legs at 12” from the bottom.
  • Attach the side rails at these marks with pocket holes going into the legs on the ends of both the 2”x 2” and the 1”X 8” with 2” and 1 ½” woodscrews, respectively.  

More details below:

4.1: Build the Side Rails

For each side rail, cut a piece of 1”x 8” and a piece of 2”x 2” to measure 70” in length.

Check these are the same size and sand down with 160+ grit sandpaper, ensuring you sand lightly on the ends.

Stain with the same color as the headboard and footboard.

Lay the pieces flat and place the 2”x 2” to one of two long edges of the 1”x 8”, ensuring they are parallel and that their ends line up.

Attach these with wood glue, turn onto its side and make 8 equidistant pocket holes along the 1”x 8” going into the 2”x 2”.

Secure these pieces together with 2” woodscrews.

4.2: Attach the Side Rails

Begin by making a pencil mark at 12” high (from the bottom) on each of the four legs.

Use a clamp/stand to glue the side rail in between the headboard and footboard by making sure the bottom of the 2”x 2” meets at this line.

Make one pocket hole on each end of the 2”x 2” going into each leg and secure with 2” woodscrews.

Do this with two more pilot holes on each end of the 1”x 8” going into the legs and secure again with 2” woodscrews.

Make an additional pocket hole in between these two holes on each end in the same way and secure.

Ensure each side rail is parallel with the 2”x 2” facing inwards.

Ensure the rails are secured straight and not at an angle.

Adjustable Bed Side Rails
Adjustable Bed Side Rails

5: Construct the Standard Slats

Before you give this bed its adjustable feature, it’s important to make some basic slats like any other bed and attach them in the right place by following the steps below:

  • Cut 10 pieces of 1”x 2” that all measure 53” in length.
  • Sand with 140+ grit sandpaper.
  • Place two slats 15” from the footboard and 15” from the headboard, respectively.
  • Place the remaining 8 in between these two panels, ensuring there are 2” gaps in between each slat.
  • Attach with wood glue, drill two pilot holes on each slat end and secure to the side rails.

More details below:

5.1: The Bed Slats

Firstly, use a Mitre saw to accurately crosscut 10 pieces of 1”x 2” that all measure 53” in length, checking they are all the same size.

Sand down the surface of each slat and their ends, gradually moving up toward 220 grit.

Place one slat flat on its 2” surface 15” from the footboard by resting each end of the slat onto the 2”x 2” piece of the side rails.

This should rest onto the side rails and allow you to attach the slats with glue.

Use a second slat to repeat this but with the second piece being 15” from the headboard.

Fill the space in between by placing the remaining 8 slats 2” from each other, ensuring they are equally spaced out, as per the image below:

Adjustable Bed Slats
Adjustable Bed Slats

6: Build the Adjustable Slat Sheets

Now that you have your standard slats, it’s time to place down two slat sheets that have bar stoppers to make your bed adjustable.

To do this:

  • Use a jigsaw to cut two sheets from a ½” board that measures 53” in length and 15” in width.
  • Sand down one surface of each sheet with 200+ grit sandpaper.
  • With the same ½ sheet, cut eight small pieces that each measure 1” in width and 25” in length (these are your bar stoppers).
  • Make pencil marks at 3”, 6”, 9” and 12” from the bottom of each sheet on its longer side.
  • Place the bar stoppers on these points so they are horizontal with the length of the sheets.
  • Glue each stopper to the board, make pilot holes on each end, and secure with 1” woodscrews.
  • Place each sheet onto the bed frame.

More details below:

6.1: Build the Adjustable Slat Sheets

Use a jigsaw to cut out two sheets of ½ board, using a ruler or marker as a guide, that measures 53” in length and 15” in width.

Check these are the same size and sand down one surface and the edges with 200+ grit sandpaper or above to prevent mattress splinters.

Use the same sheet to cut eight small pieces of ½ board that measure 1” in width and 25” in length and lightly sand.

6.2: Attach the Adjustable Slats

On the sanded surface of your two sheets, make pencil marks at 3”, 6”, 9” and 12” from the bottom of the longer edge.

At these points, place four of the bar stoppers horizontally across the sheet, ensuring they are central and parallel to each other.

Use glue to hold these in place and check they are straight/parallel.

Make pilot holes on each stopper end and secure to the sheets with 1” woodscrews.

Proceed to place the adjustable sheets into the 15” space between the slats and the head/footboard.

Make three pilot holes onto each end of the sheets going into the side rails and secure with glue and woodscrews.

Adjustable Slats
Adjustable Slats

7: Add the Adjustable Panel

Now that you have modified your slats to be adjustable compared to a standard bed, it’s time to make a mattress panel that will allow you to adjust the angle and height of your mattress for your comfort needs.

To do this:

  • Cut two pieces of 1” board to measure 57” in length and 20” in width and sand down both surfaces, staining if necessary.
  • Cut another piece of 1” board to measure 57” in length and 30” in width.
  • Lay all three pieces flat, with the larger piece in the middle, so that they are joined at their longer ends.
  • Join each of the smaller boards to the larger board with two basic hinges, ensuring they are secured with ½” woodscrews.
  • On the other side of each smaller panel, mark 5” from the central panel and attach your handlebars (bar facing outward) at this point.
  • Place this structure (70” long, 57” in width) onto the bed ensuring the hinge side is facing upwards.
  • Use wood glue to attach the central panel onto the slats.
  • Make equidistant pilot holes around the perimeter of the central piece and secure with 2” woodscrews.  

More below:

7.1: Build the Adjustable Panel

Using a large sheet of 1” board, use a jigsaw and the appropriate ruler/guide to cut two pieces that measure 57” in length and 20” in width.

Sand down each surface of these pieces as well as their edges, staining with the stain used previously.

From the same board, cut another piece that measures 57” in length and 20” in width (this is the central board that attaches to the bed) and sand/stain.

Lay the three pieces flat, with the central piece in the middle, and with the two smaller pieces joined by their longer edges.

7.2: Attach the Adjustable Panel

Secure each smaller piece to the central panel with your two/three hinges (4/6 in total) with woodscrews.

On the other side of this structure, mark 15” from the central piece on each smaller panel.

At this point, attach your handlebars with 1”/½” woodscrews, making sure they face outward.

Ensuring the hinged side is facing upward, place the 70” long adjustable panel onto the bed, which should fit smoothly into the main bed frame.

Make equidistant pilot holes around the perimeter of the central panel and proceed to secure with 2” woodscrews.

To adjust the height of your bed, simply pull the handlebar and place it against one of four stoppers, which can be done for both the top and bottom of the mattress.

The completed adjustable bed frame should look like the one in the image below:

Final Adjustable Bed Frame
Completed Adjustable Bed Frame

Conclusion: Consider a Pre-Constructed Frame

Whilst building your own adjustable bed frame from scratch is certainly possible, it’s undoubtedly a challenging project that is best suited to those with solid DIY skills.

If you’d prefer to buy an adjustable bed frame to save yourself time and effort, then click the button below to see the best adjustable beds and compatible mattresses to buy online now.


Disclaimer

This article is for information purposes only. Only tackle DIY projects that you feel you have the right skills for – enlist the help of a professional if required. Always take care when using power tools and other equipment.

Image Attribution and Licencing

Main image: ‘Modern Bedroom’ by Archideaphoto (Getty Images) used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

All other images custom made and used with permission.

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