June 26, 2013

DIY: Bed on Wheels

We're gearing up for that transition from crib to 'big boy bed' (how time flies!), and after months of debating our options, we decided that in order to get what we wanted and come in on budget, we would need to DIY a bed frame. I had a substantial list of requirements for this bed; twin size, low but not too low, simple and clean, a bit of space for storage beneath, affordable, and no composite or particle boards. We also wanted something that would appeal to our car and wheel obsessed toddler without going for that literal 'race car' look. We love putting everything possible on wheels here, so a wheely bed was a natural choice. We found these great super sized industrial casters for half price on Ebay and worked backwards from there. We are all pretty excited by the end result, it's so much fun.

Once we determined how we wanted to construct the bed frame, the project was actually quite simple, used only a few tools, and could be tackled by anyone with modest DIY know-how. Of course you could cut the lumber yourself, but we ended up having our's cut to size right at Home Depot, just to make our lives easier and cleaner. The cuts weren't perfect and did require a little extra sanding in the end, but it still did save us time and hassle. It also means there's even fewer tools required to complete the project.

Tools: I'm really pleased with how minimal this list is!
  • drill, including countersink bit
  • screwdriver
  • wrench (for lag screws)
  • tape measure
  • sandpaper and sanding block (power sander would be even better)
  • level
Materials: The interior measurements of this frame are 40" x 76" to accommodate standard sized twin mattress (39" x 75")
  • 2x4 lumber (obviously not pressure treated due to chemicals) / 2-76" pieces, 7-37" pieces
  • 4x4 lumber (this is blocking for the casters) / 8-8" pieces
  • 1x8 finish board, we used poplar and painted it, but maple or any nice hardwood would look wonderful left natural / 2-76" pieces, 2-41.5" pieces
  • scrap 1/2" material for shims
  • 4-8" diameter industrial casters, two rigid and two swivel with brake (see above for source)
  • screws
  • trim head screws (for finish boards)
  • 3" lag screws (for anchoring casters)
  • bed slats (we got our's at Ikea, but since they aren't standard USA size we ended up having to add extra 2x4 blocking to make them work without risk of slipping through. standard sized twin slats would would perfectly, or plan for that extra 2x4 blocking.
  • wood filler (optional)
  • paint (optional) / we always use Benjamin Moore Natura for anything that is going to be around kids, it's zero-voc and far better than many other products which claim zero-voc's (but that's a longer discussion!)

Once you've purchased and organized all of your materials, mock up the frame to ensure that the measurements are correct and all pieces are accounted for. 

Lay out the long 76" 2x4's and use the shorter 37" 2x4's to span between them, spacing the middle three evenly. Sandwich two pieces of the 4x4 blocking in each of the four corners of the frame, as shown. Predrill and secure all of the members with screws (using the countersink bit so that the finish boards will be snug against the framing).

Shim the frame about 1/2" from the floor (we actually used Jenga pieces!), and lay out the trim boards. The short sides of the trim board will lap the long sides at the corners. Using the trim head screws and the countersink bit, predrill and screw the trim board into the framing using two screws (near top and bottom of the framing) at each location. Make sure to space the screws evenly so that they look nice and pretty, especially if you aren't painting the bed.

Flip the bed frame upside down and secure the casters in the center of the blocking at each of the four corners, using the hefty lag screws. We placed the swivel and brake casters at the head of the bed and the rigid ones at the foot. Flip the bed frame right side up, sand and sand and sand the corners until they are perfectly aligned. Sand the edges of the finish boards, just to ease sharp edges and corners.

If you want to paint the frame, fill each of the small screw holes on the finish boards with wood filler and sand it all smooth. Wipe everything with a damp rag and allow to completely dry, then prime and paint the finish boards. Place bed slats on frame, and top it off with your mattress.

We decided to go with an all cotton and wool futon that is 8" thick. It tucks nicely inside the frame and is high enough that you don't scrape your legs when sitting on the edge. If your mattress is any thinner, you will want to shim the frame more than 1/2" when attaching the finish boards, so that you have less of a lip at the top.

Little Smith was so happy when we finally unveiled his wheely bed. He keeps calling it his 'big daddy car' and talking about those red wheels, it's definitely a hit. We are waiting a few more months before actually making the big boy bed transition, but he already loves climbing up and snuggling with his favorite stuffed animals. It's also been convenient to be able to roll the bed as needed while we continue to work on the shared room. Do make sure to lock those swivel casters once you have it in place though, this baby can really roll if you want it to! Luckily it also stays put beautifully once the brakes are locked. 


  1. Really, really, really cool! Kellie xx

  2. Great job! Very cool idea. :)

  3. i love that you made your own bed...and it turned out and i bet there was no swearing or sweat pouring on the floor as you made it, either!

    and it looks fantastic -- i bet little smith loves it! x

  4. Wow, Lilly! This turned out so great. Seriously fantastic idea! I am just freshly back from Paris and cannot wait to check out all of what you've been up to... I see a belly post below! Eeeeee!

  5. Amazing creation! It turned out just as wonderful as one could imagine and I'm glad to hear W loves it. :)

  6. I love it! I love the energy that comes with nesting. I wish I could have it all the time.

  7. This bed so cool I want one! How convenient too it can be wheeled around for when you need to clean or just feeling like trying a different furniture arrangement.

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