2x4 Captains Bed with Flip Down Storage

diy captains bed easy to build free plans
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Easy to build captain beds with flip down storage.  Simple 2x4 frames, free step by step plans from Ana-White.com

diy captains bed easy to build free plans
diy captains bed easy to build free plans
diy captains bed easy to build free plans
diy captains bed easy to build free plans

UPDATE: I added drawers to these beds!!! After 8 years, these beds were holding up strong, so I just game them an upgrade and update.

storage bed with drawers

Click here to watch how I add drawers and update this bed.

Okay, let's rewind 8 years ....

For our cabin, in the kids area, I built some beds out of 2x4s.

The bed looks like a captains bed, I did a two tone finish. 

Instead of drawers, I opted for flip down faces, so I could stuff sleeping pads underneath.

These beds were very INEXPENSIVE and EASY to build. Here's all it is:

First, you screw 2x4s together to make the basic frames.

Then you add plywood or planked boards (I used 1x6s) to the ends to create the footboard and headboard ends.

The frames are sized so a off the shelf 1x12 works in the opening.  I just hinged them on at the bottom.


I also made the artwork on the walls.  The colorful cutouts were pretty much free, and made a huge impact.  Here's how I made them:

I just took scrap 1/2" thick plywood pieces, and cut them into rectangle shapes.  Then I painted them different colors, and cut out shapes with a jigsaw.

To get the planked look (most visible on the pink fish), I also set my circular saw to about 1/4" deep, and just made random cuts over the plywood.  I also used a drill bit to create holes to look like these pieces of plywood were reclaimed siding pieces.


The stools are also DIY.  Here's the tutorial on how to make them.

Free plans for Flip Down Captains Bed

diy captains bed easy to build free plans
Sized for twin mattress.


Shopping List
  • 4 - 2x4 @ 8 feet long (pine recommended because it is easier to work with and paint than fir)
  • 2 pieces of 3/4" plywood 14-1/2" x 36" or 3 - 1x8 @ 72" long
  • 2 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
  • 1 - 1x4 @ 6 feet long
  • Additional 1x material or 3/4" plywood for slats
  • 2-1/2" to 3" length self tapping star bit wood screws
  • 2" self tapping star bit wood screws
Common Materials
Cut List
  • 4 - 2x4 @ 70-1/2" - frame top and bottom
  • 6 - 2x4 @ 11-1/2" - frame verticals
  • 2 - 3/4" plywood @ 14-1/2" x 36" or 6 - 1x8 @ 36" - headboard/footboard
  • 2 - 1x12 @ 32-3/4" (if the bed is exposed on both sides, you will need two more drawer faces) - drawer faces
  • 2 - 1x2 @ 72-1/2" - mattress slat trim
  • 2 - 1x4 @ 33-1/2" - mattress slats
  • 1x3 or 1x4 wood slats (can be scrap wood) 33-1/2" long, spaced about 4" apart (see mattress recommendations)
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Miter Saw
Table Saw
Power Sander
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Use 2-1/2" to 3" length wood screws (try spax brand, no pre-drilling required) or pocket holes (set to 1-1/2" setting using 2-1/2" long pocket hole screws) to build two of the frames. It is important to build these frames square so the drawer faces fit inside. Make good square cuts and attach carefully.

Step 2

Use 3/4" plywood or stacked 1x boards (I used 1x6s) to create the ends of the bed. Screw on with 2" screws and wood glue.

Step 3

Use hinges to attach the drawer faces to the frames. I regret not putting my handles higher on the drawer face, as when opening the leverage is difficult with the handles in the middle.

Step 4

Use 2" screws and wood glue to attach the top 1x2s to the top of the bed, overhanging 1/4" on outside edges. I recommend staining these boards first. Then screw the end 1x4 boards to the ends, overhang on the outside is 1/4" to match the 1x2. Again, stain this board first.

Step 5

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.


Weekend Builder

Fri, 12/11/2015 - 11:05

Ana - I want to use this plan to make corner beds like the sketch below. Do I need to make the beds wider to have enough room to allow one mattress to inset? Thanks!


Mon, 12/21/2015 - 18:24

I'm wondering if I build two of the bases and stack them up (partly for more storage), will it be sturdy enough?  I'd have to fasten the two platofrms together.


Sun, 01/17/2021 - 21:57

Love this look and the simplicity of it, thank you tons ! Just curious what kind of mattress was used and it's thickness. I am trying to recreate this look !
Thank you again .