A new customer came to us on a referral and said she had been looking at day beds and pullout couches for a guest bedroom in her house. She sent over a couple of pictures she found online for a starting point on what she wanted. She wanted a unique day bed made from pallets with a roll out trundle that could easily be hidden away, if need be. She wanted both beds to be able to fit twin mattresses. She loved the rustic pallet look, and that is right up our alley. Of course, we took on the project!
Note: I cannot stress enough the importance of being safe when using pallets for your DIY project. Pallets can contain pollutants that can cause harm to you or the recipient of whatever you build. For more information on safety gear and some of the dangers of pallets, check out My Horrible Experience Working with Pallets. For information on how select the safest pallets for your project, check out this great article Pallet Safety.
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Tools used for this project:
1.25″ screws (I basically use these screws for most of my projects)
I thought it would be wise for the roll out trundle to be able to hold the mattress in place while it is being moved around, and I didn’t really have any pallets on hand that I could modify to make this possible. I wanted it to fairly low to the ground, but really sturdy, so I decided to build the trundle from mainly store bought lumber.
First step is to build the frame for the bed. Twin mattresses are pretty standard when it comes to length and width, but thickness can vary dramatically with pillow tops and other added comforts. I knew I would need the thickness to know how high to make the day bed off the ground, so I asked the customer for the dimensions of her mattress she would use for the trundle. This way I didn’t build the frame and leave it up to chance that they had a standard mattress. The mattress is 38” x 74” x 7”. I wanted the inside of the frame to be 39” x 75”, so there to be about a half inch on either side of the frame for the mattress to fit in easily. I was too excited to start that I didn’t think making my first cut. I cut a 2×4 to 74” which was wrong for more than one reason. I needed it to be 75”, but also had to compensate for the width of the shorter 2x4s that would complete the frame. With my brain on the right track, I cut two 2x4s to the length of 78 inches. I cut two more 2x4s to 39”, and laid them on the garage floor, and double checked my measurements. Because I had bought only the lumber that I needed, that mess up cut made me short on 2x4s. Fortunately, I had some pallets around and was able to pull a 2×4 brace that was in good shape to fill in on one of the shorter sides.
Next, I needed to attach 2x2s to the inside of the longer 2x4s. These became the base for our support slats, but that comes later. I cut two 2x2s to 75” each. I laid the 78” 2×4 flat on the ground, marked where the frame would come together in the corners, and put a bead of wood glue along the bottom edge. I used a scrap 2×4, butted up against the bottom of the 2×4 I was using, to make sure the 2×2 was flush with the bottom. Using 2.5” screws I secured the 2×2 to the 2×4. I put a screw about every 10 inches to be safe.
After securing the 2x2s, I could now fully assemble the frame. You can add the 2x2s after assembling the frame, but I thought it would be a bit easier to do it before. I put wood glue on each joint and fastened them together with two 3” screws.
Now it was time to attach a center brace to make sure the support slats were well supported. I cut a 2×4 to 75” and put in the center. I got it where I wanted it, and pre-drilled a few holes to ease the screws going in. Again, using wood glue and 3” screws I fastened it to the frame from the outside.
Now, I was ready to add the support slats. For this part, I used 1x4s cut to 39” each, and positioned them roughly 6 inches apart. I wouldn’t have been comfortable placing them any further apart because you really want the mattress to have strong, even support. The closer the better I would say, but obviously, make sure you have the material to do so. The first slat I tried to attach started to split on the outside edge, so I decided to pre-drill all of my holes for this step. I laid all of the planks where I wanted them, and pre-drilled all the holes at once. Then, I came through and sunk 1.25” screws into all of the holes. (Note: It is probably best practice to pre-drill holes for all screws in this project and other projects for that matter. However, if the risk of the wood splitting is minimal, and I have a good angle to sink the screw, sometimes I skip that step to save time.)
The next step is to attach the casters (wheels) so this bed can roll out. I carefully flipped the frame over so it was upside down. I went with a 4” non-marking rubber caster which is a safe bet for indoor surfaces. I positioned the casters where I wanted them, and marked where I needed to drill holes. I positioned the outside casters 5” in from each end. This was primarily just a preference of mine; however, I wanted to make sure the wheel couldn’t hang out from the end and hit the legs of the day bed when rolling it under. The very center of the bed frame is probably the weakest part of this bed design, and that is where a lot of weight will be when someone gets in and out of the bed. I decided to attach a caster to the center support 2×4 right in the middle to help keep the center strong. I pre-drilled 4 holes for each caster, and used 1.5” lag screws to hold them in strong. All four of the outside casters had brakes on them, so the bed could be completely stationary when it needed to be. The center caster had no brake because it didn’t seem necessary or feasible to reach under to apply the brake to this one.
Then I flipped it over to make sure that all of the casters were level and touching the ground. At this point, I had to fight the urge to take it for a ride down the driveway, but I haven’t given in…yet.
So now I was onto the part that I didn’t have much of a plan for at first. Other than knowing what I wanted it to look like in the end, I was sort of improvising. I found a pallet that was mostly intact that had the style that I wanted to use. The issue was that I only had one and needed two. I decided that I had enough parts from other pallets that I could make another pallet from scratch to mirror the first one as I went along. I had bought two 2x4x10s to be braces to connect these pallets together. I used lots of wood glue and handful of screws at all three spots where the pallets met.
I decided that I wanted there to be more support than just the two 2x4s on the outside, so I found some longer braces from other pallets and screwed them to both sides of the center joint. I then cut 2×4 pieces to go on the ends of each of the pallets to make them flush. To attach these, I used wood glue and two 2.5” screws at an angle into the pallet blocks on either side.
Now it was time to finish constructing the top out of pallet planks I had from other pallets. I attached each one in place and then gave the whole thing a really good sanding. This was extremely time consuming because the pallets I had were very rough and had lots of splinters and dirt. I got a good arm work out this day for sure!
Since the bed, at this point, weighed probably around 70 lbs. I needed to make sure it had sturdy legs to hold up the bed top and the person laying on it. I decided to cut down some 4×4 posts to make the legs. With a standard twin mattress on the pullout bed, it would come to a height of 14 inches. I decided to make the bottom of the day bed sit at 16 inches to give a little space for bedding on the lower mattress. I measured the distance between the bottom of the bed to the bottom of the top planks and it was 4 inches. After some simple math, I knew each leg needed to be 20 inches. After cutting the legs to length, I predrilled two holes coming from the outside and secured two 5 inch lag bolts into each leg. I then put 1 lag screw into each leg from the inside going out as well for extra support.
After some deliberation with the customer, I decided to fit in some extra planks on both ends of the top. Because I had to fit a twin bed under the day bed, the day bed ended up being really long. The customer wanted to use a twin mattress on top as well. With the extra planks, no matter where the mattress was positioned you could used the ends as a make shift side table.
Then, I had to flip it over again to sand the outer boards on the bottom. As I was turning it over I noticed the legs could move a bit when I had weight on them at an angle. To add some extra support, I used my miter saw to cut some angled blocks and secured them to the legs with 2.5” screws.
At this point I thought I was done. When I slid the bed up against the wall and wheeled the roll-out bed under it, I realized I had a small problem. The roll-out bed was 42 inches wide to accommodate the mattress, but the day bed was only 40 inches wide. Because I was just improvising the top, I had this oversight that needed to be corrected in order for the roll-out bed to be completely under the day bed when it was wheeled under. I added some horizontal filler blocks to the back side of the bed so that it would sit flush against the wall and the roll-out could be hidden nicely under it. Not the most aesthetically pleasing part of the project, but it worked and the customer didn’t mind it.
The bed was done and ready for finishing. After discussing options with my customer, she decided that she wanted to wait on finishing until the space it was going into was finished at her home. She didn’t, at this point, know what kind of finish she wanted, so she decided to take the piece as it was and finish it herself when she could make a more educated decision.
One more issue came up after the fact. Her stairwell couldn’t accommodate the size of the day bed to get it into her house. After some brainstorming and a little hackery. I was able to cut the supports and slide one end off entirely so it could be moved in two pieces. When it came time to reassemble, several connector plates were used to hold it strong in the middle. I added a few to reconnect the braces as well (not in picture). It may have lost a little bit of its strength, but I was still able to jump on it without it straining.
The final product turned out great! The customer did an excellent job finishing the beds with a rich, dark stain. Couldn’t have done it better myself! We were so pleased to see it dressed up on the customers home!