DIY Bed Slats | How to Make Queen Slats at Home

Can you make your own slats? Yes, you can make your own bed slats at home. This article explains DIY bed slats and the tools you will need.

While virtually any type of lumber could be used for bed slats, as long as all of the slats are the same thickness, deciding to use anything thicker than 1 inch would be too much. In the event that you need to move your bed frame, thinner bed slats will make it less cumbersome to move. This size of slats will also be easier to remove and store if necessary.

To complete this DIY bed slat project, you’ll need 1 x 3 or 1 x 4 pieces. A cutting saw and measuring device to help you make the best trims are needed. Follow the 7 steps below to complete our DIY bed slats making.

What You’ll Need for this DIY Bed Slats

  • 1 x 3 or 1 x 4 pieces
  • Bench or circular saw
  • Measuring device (e.g. tape measure)

What size wood is used for bed slats?

The best bed slats are typically made of 1x3s and 1x4s. The 1x3s are approximately 2 1/2 inches wide and 1x4s are 3 1/2 inches wide (both are approximately 3/4 inch thick).

Assuming you’re making queen bed slats, the length of a queen bed is 80 inches.  Plan to space the slats no more than 2 1/2 inches apart, you will need 17 slats for the 1 x 3s.

Let’s begin with a summary of how to make bed slats.

How to Make Bed Slats

  1. Determine the size of your bed slats depending on bed size
  2. Buy 1 x 3s or 1 x 4s lumber as most bed slats are 2 x 1 inches. Douglas fir, pine, and spruce preferable.
  3. Estimate the number of slats you’ll need. A queen bed will require about 20 slats.
  4. Measure the width of the bed cut right size wood, then subtract about 1/2 inch from that figure from each.
  5. Keep 1 ½ – 2 inches of space between the slats.
  6. Varnish and wax.
  7. Install your ready bed slats.

Step 1: Determine the size and number of slats that you will require.

If you’re currently using bed slats to support your mattress, use them as template to mark the size and dimensions of the new slats that you will be making.

Calculating size of bed slats when you don’t have old bed slats.


Meanwhile, if your current bed does not have wooden slats, you can still estimate the total number of slats without any problem. You will also be able to calculate the width of each slat too. To begin, determine the length of the bed by using a tape measure.

These widths vary for twin, full, queen and king size beds.

The majority of beds are approximately 80 inches long, with the majority of slats measuring 2-by-1 inches. To calculate the length of 80 inches in this example, you would divide the length by two inches, which equals 40 inches.

In other words, there is enough space for a total of 40 wooden slats. You will, however, have to leave space between each slat.

This space between the bed slats should be equivalent to the width of 1 slat. So you should divide this number in half to account for this. For this reason, you would require approximately 20 wooden slats for a queen bed.

Step 2 – Obtain the Right Wood

1 x 4 inches for making bed slats

After calculating he number of slats you will require, proceed to purchase the appropriate amount of wood to complete the task. Yellow southern pine a very common most durable wood to use for slats.

However, there are a variety of other suitable woods to choose from.

RELATED: What Are Bed Slats Made of?

Is plywood good for bed slats?

Plywood bed slats are good. When compared to solid plywood sheets, plywood slats allow for better air circulation, and they’re also much easier to work.

Building a custom bed frame or restoring an antique one with plywood slats can help you build a much durable bed.

Best wood for Bed Slats

Softwoods such as Douglas fir, pine, and spruce are among the best types of wood for bed slats, with Douglas fir being the most popular. If you’re looking for higher-quality bed slats, consider red or white oak, hickory, ash, birch, or beech as your wood of choice.

It takes up to 20 slats to build a king or queen bed, but only 18 to build a twin bed (depending on the size of the bed).

What about steel slats?

Whenever steel is unavailable, 1 x 3 or 1 x 4 slats are typically used instead of 1 x 3. Either option is acceptable. It will be enough to use four or five of these boards.

The boards or slats are usually rested on a ledge of wood that is attached to the inside of the rails on either side.

Technically, any type of wood could be used for bed slats, as long as all of the slats are the same thickness, using anything thicker than 1 inch is way over the top. In the event that you need to move the frame, thinner boards will make it less cumbersome to move and will make it easier to remove and store if necessary.

Boards of pine or fir that are 3 or 4 inches wide are a good choice for this project. In addition to being strong enough to support your weight, they are usually inexpensive as well.

Step 3: Measure and Cut Wood

The third step in the DIY bed slat process is to measure and cut. When using a saw, always follow the recommended guidelines and be safe.

Measure the width of the bed, then subtract about 1/2 inch from that figure. These slats should be cut to that particular width. Make a mark on the square edge so that it cuts at 90 degrees across your piece of wood.

A bench saw or circular saw can then be used to make cleaner cuts

Cut the remaining pieces for additional slats

Take your first slat as a guide for the remaining bed slats. You can use it to mark the dimensions on the wood that hasn’t been cut yet. It’s time to cut all the slats you’ll need.

Take Care of the Gap Between Slats

It’s a bad idea to put the slats right next to each other, because that could make moisture to accumulate under the mattress and cause fabric to rot and mold to grow. On the other hand, if the spacing is too wide, the mattress will sag, and you’ll be able to feel it when you sleep.

You want the mattress to be able to breathe while still giving you enough support to keep you comfortable.

There should be about 1 1/2 to 2 inches between the slats.

Step 4: Sand Your Bed Slats

It’s time to sand!

To make the slats smooth after cutting them, you will need to sand them with high-grit sandpaper. Smooth the two eliminate any splinters that might be in it, then.

Step 5: Varnish and wax.

Last but not least, wax the wood with an even layer of beeswax to keep it from getting dry. You can also paint the slats. Both options are equally good.

With a queen size bed, cut one long 1 x 3 at about 70 inches long to act as a cross piece. Arrange all the slats over and lay the cross piece and nail to all of them to hold together. This will hold the slats together and allow you to remove and place back the entire bed slat easily.

Step 6: Install the Bed Slats

Install ready bed slats

After you’ve finished all the process, put the first slat on the bed frame near the headboard. Place two more next to the first one.

To secure the two outside slats you’ve already put down, use wood screws or rubber stops.

To get an even distance between each slat, lift the middle slat out. Do this again and again.