better homes & gardens

How to make a bed with slats
How to make a bed with slats

Gather your supplies

  • Slats (9) 200 x 45 x 1200mm recycled oregon
  • Long slats (2) 200 x 45x 1500mm recycled oregon
  • Rails (2) 125 x 75 x 2125mm recycled hardwood

You'll also need

Feast Watson Oil-Based Liming White or sealer; 75mm stainless-steel batten screws; 133mm rubber swivel lock castors (4)

Here's how


Step 1

Check length of slats and rails. Trim a 65 x 65mm triangle off underside of rails at foot end to soften look. As this timber is rough sawn, with splinters, sand back with a belt or orbital sander. Don’t smooth it completely, as you want the character of the old timber to remain. Start with 40-grit, then switch to 80-grit.

Step 2

Lighten timber by applying Liming White using a brush, or seal for a dark timber look. Paint 1 or 2 boards, then wipe off with a rag. The longer you wait before wiping, the paler the timber will look. If you just want a touch of white to show through, use a little turps on a rag to remove even more Liming White. Don’t forget to do visible edges and ends as well. Allow to dry.

Step 3

Lay slats on a flat surface so they fit together well. Then number them in order on the underside. From each end of short slats and 1 end of long slats, measure in 110mm and 30mm from each edge, for screw hole positions. On other end of long slats, mark 410 and 30mm. Drill a 7mm hole at each mark, then follow with a countersink bit to take heads of batten screws.

Step 4

To ensure bed will be square, use edges of a bench with square corners, or a sheet of ply, to lay out rails so they’re parallel. Inside edges of rails should be 890mm apart. Check diagonals are equal.

Step 5

Lay slats on top and align so short slats overhang rails by 80mm on each side (see Slat Bed Diagram, above). Predrill pilot holes with a 5mm bit, as you’re going into tough hardwood, then drive in 75mm stainless-steel (or galvanised) batten screws. Don’t put in all screws, as you’ll need to dismantle bed and reassemble it again in the bedroom.

Step 6

Remove loose slats, then stand up bed to screw castors to underside of rails, about 100mm in from each end.