Platform bed


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So I've been asked to attempt to build a platform bed for my sister. Her only requirements are that it hold a queen sized mattress and fit into her city loft apartment (come apart into smaller sections). So i've come up with a few ideas of how to make something that will last and I'd appreciate any input. Let me try and paint a picture for you...

The center portion to directly support the mattress (60" by 80") will be made of two torsion boxes, design taken from Marc's dead flat assembly table, each being 60" by 40". They will be hung using french cleats onto the "skirt", or perimeter, consisting of 4 torsion boxes made to give a reveal around the mattress; making it a "platform" bed. All torsion boxes will be the same height, I was thinking 4" to stick with Marc's already created design. Also I was thinking that each skirt section would give about a 6" reveal. (so now I would have 6 torsion boxes, 2 at 60" X 40", 2 at 92" X 6", and 2 at 60" X 6"). The 2 long boxes (92" X 6") will have the legs supporting them, and would suspend the two end boxes (60" X 6") using the french cleats; which then gives the entire perimeter to support the center 2 boxes on cleats.

Then to make things look "pretty" I would cap off the perimeter with a nice looking solid board, probably 8" wide 8/4 with a length to match. This would give a 2" recess to the mattress and a 2" over hang around the platform as well. I would also cover the outer edge of the exposed torsion box with a nicer plywood to be finished to match the top boards.

So basically that's what I have, not sure if that makes sense but it makes sense to me. Basically what I'm asking is...Do you think that the torsion box idea is sturdy enough? Is the french cleat hanging idea sufficient? What's a good looking, yet affordable option for the top monster solid wood?

If you have any questions about my explanation of the design just ask, I'll try to word it differently.


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So I've been asked to attempt to build a platform bed for my sister.


Let me try and paint a picture for you.

I can sort of visualize what you're doing; but this cries out for SketchUp, or at least a pencil sketch and a scanner.

On the face of it, I think you're over-engineering the center section. The mattress doesn't need to sit on a dead-flat assembly table. For a queen, I'd run a center spine down the length of the mattress and then lay slats (1x4's or even just 1/2" poplar) across the width. Try this video

and pay attention at around 2 minutes in where he lifts the mattress. They have their slats running the length of the mattress; but you can clearly see that they have a spine in the middle to break up the long span.

OTOH, torsion boxes seem promising for what you've described for the perimeter. Here, however, I'd want them joined with something more definite than a French cleat. Probably nuts and bolts ratcheted together from the inside.

As to show material, the sky's the limit. Witness:

...but if you're hoping to save some shekels, stick to a domestic of some sort. Not knowing if they're looking for dark or light colors, I'd suggest Ash: Very affordable, available in wide boards, easy to work and lovely to look at. It also gives you a light, clear canvas upon which to execute a deep colored inlay or string of some sort.

Good luck.

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With a mattress without a box spring, you usually want a little give. I'm sleeping on a queen size bed with a center lengthwise spine and 3/4" thick slats about 3" wide with about 2.5" between them. The slats are stapled to strips of fabric to keep them spaced evenly.

If the mattress is resting on a box-spring, then the box-spring has all the structure and only needs to be supported around the edge. I don't use a box-spring, but this is what I remember when helping people assemble beds when they talk me into helping them move. Double check this.

Go to Ikea or any place that sells beds and see what the standard practice is. Unless you have specific needs, you should probably stick with whatever the mattresses were designed to work with.

I've known people who put a sheet of plywood between the box-spring and the mattress, and one person who slept on the floor because any mattress was too soft. If you've got a special case like that, then that's different.

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Guest Mahoganus

I just bought a comfort Air bed and the bed comes with out box springs and the directions say lay mattress on a firm hard stiff surface. So I'm going to use 3/4 plywood for the most part and then use my quality 1/4 sawn White Oak for the rest.

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I just made a platform bed for our bedroom. We didn't go with a reveal like you mentioned. But our design could easily be compromised to include this. From what I can imagine from your description, it might be a bit overkill to throw a whole torsion box assembly under there, not to mention a good amount of work. The weight on each section of the frame/mattress is minimal unless someone is jumping up and down on the corner of the bed. But, hey, a design like that will last many many more years than mine will.

Here's what we did: I started with solid wood pieces making a rectangular box the size of the mattress. In the middle of the two sides and front back, I cut dadoes to accept one big cross frame in the middle of the box (looks like a big plus symbol basically). Where these two pieces cross, I routed a half-dado into each piece so they would overlap and lock into each other. This avoids any potential racking or shifting as the bed is being used. Now I have a shell that has 4 basic sections to it, all of similar size. I installed a guide rail down the inside of each section (all of them go from the head of the mattress down to the toe in each of the 4 sections) that would allow 2x4 pieces to sit flush with the top of the frame

From there, I just basically took 2x4 offcuts and rested them on the guide rails. These are, to this day, just sitting on the guide rails, no screws or glues, and I have enough in there so that they cover the entire 4 sections and support the mattress. I added drawers in the bottom near the foot of the bed as well, but that's not really necessary.

As far as putting a reveal around the sides, a variety of things could be done to accommodate that. Using a dado blade to cut out a section on one end of the supporting 2x4s, you could then set in a length of hardwood all the way round the base. This would keep the reveal piece flush with the support slats.

One thing I wish I had done was take the longest piece of lumber I could find when making the base around the exterior. This way I could have grain continuity running around the sides of the frame. That's the only part that you ever see on my base, and it could've been done better. Good luck!


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  • 2 weeks later...

IMHO torsion box is total overkill. I just built a queen size platform bed for my daughter and her husband. They did not want to contend with any wood that they could bang into. My solution was 3 sheets of birch plywood cut to size at the big box. I had to cart the thing and assemble it 400 miles away. I rounded the foot to match what I expected the mattress to look like so there would be no sharp corners. I then ironed on edge banding on all exposed plywood edges. Dye and polyurethane took care of the finish. Basically I built 2 long boxes (they decided they could be buried in them if we had a top. There is no bottom. The top was the same size as the mattress and the boxes are 4 inches inboard of the top. They have one of those extremely heavy latex mattresses. After assembling both boxes in their bedroom I screwed the two boxes together at the top and it was done. I used a Kreg jig for the whole thing and did not use any glue. That way it comes apart when they need to move. They previously had the mattress on the floor and since my daughter was very PG, getting up was a major deal. Now she is more than 20 inches off the floor. The bed is as solid as a rock. Since she just gave birth they now want the bed about 8-10 inches lower. Now I'm really glad I didn't glue anything. I will dissassemble, use a guide and whack off the 8-10 inches all the way around with a circ. saw and screw it back together. This was intended to be a rough and ready bed, not fine furniture. The only exposed wood is around the base. Anyway, that was my solution.

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I agree with the idea that torsion boxes are overkill. I have built three platform beds for our home, 2 kings and 1 queen. All three used the same construction detail. Two were built about 7 years ago and the third one is new. This is how I built them --


The platforms were built of 3/4" hardwood plywood (birch or maple) that was edged with a strip of hardwood 1 1/2" high by 3/4" thick. The strip was dadoed to fit the plywood thickness leaving 1/4" above the platform. Each platform was made in 2 pieces. The first 2 beds had the seam running top to bottom, the last one has the seam running across the bed. Various methods can be used to connect the 2 pieces to keep them aligned and together. I found that the center support (below) and a couple of cleats against the inside of the base works well.

I prefer the side to side alignment of the boards because it allowed me to lift the foot board to access the dead storage under the platform. I also found that eliminating the sharp corners at the foot (I didn't on the first bed) saved bruised shins. I used a 45 degree corner, but a round corner would work too.


I made the bases out of 4 strips of 3/4" plywood with 2x2 corner posts. The corner posts are dadoed to accept the plywood and are glued to the two ends of the strips at the head and foot. I used barrel nuts and connecting screws (ie. McFeelys #1430-KDR and 0609-CDA) to connect the sides. I also made an 'X' support to the center of the platform and keep the edges aligned.


The platforms are sized according to the matresses. I made the bases undersize so there is a 6-8" overhang all around. I chose 15 1/2" as the height of the base so I was able to cut the plywood in 1/3rds. In the case of the queen bed, I cut the strip used at the head across the end of the sheet so I got the whole bed out of one sheet of plywood. Since this side is hidden, it doesn't matter that the grain runs the wrong way. On the King beds, I used less expensive hardwood plywood for the head ends.


I mount the headboards directly on the wall (french cleat) eliminating the need for mounting brackets on the platform.


Two of the beds have Tempurpedic mattresses and the third has a conventional one. I did some research and found that on all but the highest end beds, the "box spring" was really only a box and had no springs. We have found that the solid platform acts just like the original beds.

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Mike's design sounds much more substantial than mine. I was limited by time and the fact that some day the whole thing has to come out of the bedroom and it has to be done in manageable pieces - thus the screws.

I have seen so many designs for platform beds that I think the only common element is "something that gets the mattress off the floor."


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