How to Build a Captain Bed Frame

What You'll Need
A 1-inch thick, 4 x 8 sheet of plywood
2 1-inch thick 48 x 36 sheets of plywood
10 36-inch thick 4 x 4 posts
8 1/2-inch thick 30 x 22 sheets of plywood
4 2 x 4 wood (8-feet long)
4 2 x 4 wood (4-feet long)
3 2 x 4 wood (3-feet, 8-inches long)
6 2 x 4 wood (2-feet, 4-inches long)
Wood Screws, 1/2-inch (length), 1/4-inch (thick)
Wood Screws, 4-inch (length), 1/2-inch (thick)
8 Piano Hinges
8 Drawer Pulls
Table Saw
Power Drill
Mortise and Tenon Jigs
Wood Glue
Acrylic Wood Sealant

A captain bed frame is a bed frame that has a sturdy box frame and underneath storage.  This type of bed provides a tremendous amount of support and is useful because of the additional storage space that it provides. To complete this project you will need to create mortise and tenon joints in order to make the frame. An explanation of these joints is provided below: if you are not familiar with this terminology or are unsure about your skill level for this project, work with a skilled woodworker or carpenter.

A mortise and tenon joints are joints used in woodworking to join pieces of wood at a perfect 90 degrees. A mortise joint is a recessed cavity that is cut into a piece of wood. The tenon joint is a projection cut into a joining piece of wood that is placed into a mortise. A special saw jig is used (mortise and tenon jig) in order to make the joints.

Step 1: Make the Mortise and Tenon Joints

Take the 2 X 4 wood to make the joints (8-foot length for tenons and 4-foot length for the mortises). Cut the mortise and tenon joints on the table saw, using the mortise and tenon jigs. Use a carpenter’s square to measure the joint to make sure that they are flush and at a 90-degree angle. Dry fit the short and long 2 X 4 pieces to ensure that they fit.

Step 2: Glue the Mortise and Tenons Together to Form Frame

Undo the dry fit and use wood glue inside the mortise joints. The glue should be allowed to set until it feels a little sticky. Place the tenons into the mortises firmly, wiping away any glue that comes out of the joint.

Step 3: Build Posts for the Frames

Take the 4 of the 36-inch, 4 x 4s and place one at each corner of the mortise and tenon frame. Drill 2 1/4-inch hole through the 4-foot 2 x 4 sides. Secure the posts to the frames using the 4-inch wood screws.  Do this for both sides of the frame.

Step 4: Attach 4 x 4s to the Frame with Rabbet Joint

You will need to cut 1-inch rabbet joints into the remaining 36-inch 4 x 4s. A rabbet joint looks like a step recess cut on the edge of the wood. The rabbet joint is needed to cover the posts and ran alongside the frame. Use the table saw to make the rabbet joints. Once the rabbets have been cut, secure the 4 x 4s to the frame, with the joint flush to the 4 x 4 post, using the 4-inch wood screws.

Step 5: Attach Plywood Sheets

Attach the 2 1-inch 48 x 36 sheets of plywood to ends of the frame with 1/2-inch wood screws. Take the 8 pieces of 30 x 22 plywood and sand to make doors. The doors will be attached to the frame using the piano hinges in order for them to open. Drawer pulls should be attached to the center of the 30 x 22 plywood sheets.

Step 6: Seal the Wood with Sealant

Apply the wood sealant to the frame, drawers and posts and allow to dry. You now have a cap bed frame ready for use, awaiting a mattress and box spring.