How to Make and Install Bed Slats

sawing wood planks
  • 5-10 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-1,000
What You'll Need
Southern yellow pine wood
Tape measure
Straight square edge
Bench saw or circular saw
Safety gear
Belt clamps
Sandpaper or sanding machine
Varnish or wax
Wood screws or rubber stoppers

Bed slats help to support your mattress. While some bed frames come with these slats, others don’t. These slats can be slightly dipped or arched, or they can be totally flat. Make your own flat bed slats with the help of the right wood, a few tools, and these directions.

Step 1 - Deciding the Size and Number of Slats You Need

If you already have bed slats that are supporting an existing mattress, you can use an old slat as a template to mark the size and dimensions to make the new ones.

Compare bed slats on Amazon.

Calculating Without Current Supports

However, if your current bed has no wooden slats, you can calculate the number you will need and the width of them easily. First, take the measurement of the length of the bed.

Most beds are around 80-inches long, and most slats are 2-by-1 inches. Therefore, in this example, you would divide 80 inches by 2 inches, which equals 40 inches. That means that there is enough space for 40 slats. However, you will need one slat’s worth of space between each slat, so you should divide this number in half. Therefore, you would need approximately 20 slats.

Step 2 - Purchasing Wood

Calculate how many slats you will need, and then purchase the appropriate amount of wood. While yellow southern pine is one of the sturdiest choices, there are other appropriate woods you can build slats from.

Step 3 - Measuring and Cutting

Warning: When working with any kind of saw, take the appropriate safety measures and always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

Measure the width of the bed, and subtract approximately 1/2 inch. This width will be the measurement you should cut your slats to. Mark the square edge, so that it cuts at 90 degrees across the wood. Then, use a bench saw or circular saw to make a clean and neat cut where you marked.

Cutting Additional Slats

Use the first slat as a template for the rest of the slats, by using it to mark the dimensions on the uncut wood. Cut all the slats you will need.

Step 4 - Sanding

Once you have cut the slats, you will need to sand them with high-grit sandpaper or a sanding machine. Smooth the wood and get rid of any splinters.

Step 5 - Varnishing and Waxing

Finally, wax the wood slats with a fine coat of beeswax. Alternatively, you can varnish the slats. Both options are equally advantageous.

Step 6 - Installing the Slats

Once you’ve finished making the slats, place the first one on the bottom of the bed frame. Place two more next to the original slat. Then, use wood screws or rubber stoppers to secure the two outside slats out of the three slats you’ve put down. Lift the middle slat out, and repeat this process to get an equal distance between each slat you install.

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