Build Your Own Full-Size Captain's Bed

A full-size Captain's bed is a strong and sturdy bed that is commonly used for children and for places where there is not a lot of room and storage. The feature that makes this type of bed so popular is the storage area that is located under the bed. The storage can be in the form of drawers or with doors, and can be made accessible from both sides of the bed or from one side only. If you are familiar with woodworking and woodworking tools, you should be able to build our own full size captain’s bed.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • One 4 by 8 by 1 inch sheet of plywood
  • Two 48 by 36 by 1 inch sheets of plywood
  • Ten 4 by 4 by 36 inch posts
  • Eight 30 by 22 by 1/2 inch sheets of plywood
  • Four 2 by 4 inch by 8 feet lumber
  • Four 2 by 4 inch by 4 feet lumber
  • Three 2 by 4 by 44 inch lumber
  • Six 2 by 4 by 28 inch lumber
  • Wood screws: 1 1/2 inch long by 1/4 inch thick
  • Wood screws: 4 inch long by 1/2 inch thick
  • Eight 28 inch piano hinges
  • 8 drawer pulls
  • Table saw
  • Power drill
  • 1/8 inch diameter drill bit
  • 1/4 inch diameter drill bit
  • Countersink bit
  • Mortise and Tenon jigs
  • Carpenters glue or Wood glue
  • Square
  • Sander
  • Acrylic wood sealant, clear

Step 1 - The Mortise and Tenon Joints for the Frame

Using the 2 by 4 pieces of lumber in 4 foot and 8 foot lengths, the mortise and tenon jigs, and the table saw, you will cut mortise and tenon joints for the frame. The tenon cut will be made on each end of the 8 foot long pieces of lumber; the mortise cut will be made on each end of the 4 inch side of the 4 foot long pieces of lumber. With the square, make sure that the corners make a 90 degree angle. Fit the pieces together without the glue to make sure that they fit together neatly.

If they fit together properly, place some wood glue inside the mortise cuts and on the outside of each of the tenon cuts. When the glue is tacky, insert the tenons into the mortise and push them in until they are snug and tight. Wipe away any excess glue that squeezes out.

Step 2 - Posts for the Frame

Put one 4 by 4 by 36 inch piece of lumber in each corner of the frame that you built in Step 1. In each of the 4 foot long, 2 by 4 inch pieces of the frame, you will drill two 1/4 inch holes in the 4 foot long sides. The holes will be drilled 1 inch from the end and 2 inches apart. Countersink each of the holes then using the 4 inch long wood screws; attach each of the posts to the frame.

Step 3 - The Rabbet Joints for the Frame

To attach the remaining 36 inch, 4 by 4 pieces of lumber to the frame you will need to turn the frame upside down. Using the table saw, cut four 1 inch deep rabbet cuts in the end of each 2 by 4 by 44 inch piece of lumber.

Step 4 - Complete the Frame

On the long side of the top and bottom frame, place a straight line 4 feet from each short end. Place additional straight lines 2 feet from each short end, across the long sides of the frame. Each of the posts with the rabbet joints will be centered on the straight lines, rabbet side down with the rabbet cuts covering the posts. Attached the posts using 4 inch long, 1/2 inch thick wood screws at each end, 2 inches apart.

Step 5 - Plywood Sheets

The two 48 by 36 by 1 inch sheets of plywood will be attached to the ends of the frame with the 1/2 inch wood screws. Lay the 4 by 8 by 1 sheet of plywood on top of the frame and drill holes 1/2 inch from the edge, every 6 inches through the plywood and into the bed ends.

Step 6 - The Storage

Sand the bed frame and the eight pieces of 30 by 22 pieces of plywood until smooth. Using the piano hinges, attach the eight pieces of plywood to the frame following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 7 - Finish the Captain’s Bed

Apply the acrylic wood sealant the entire bed frame and doors, inside and outside. You should apply several coats, allowing the sealant to dry for at least 24 hours between coats. Drill a hole at the location for the drawer pulls in each of the doors and attach the drawer pulls.