How to make bed slats

Updated April 17, 2017

Bed slats are horizontal supports for the box springs or mattress on a bed. The slats rest on a narrow shelf or ledge just inside the bed frame. Wooden slats usually come with a bed when it is purchased. Knowing how to make your own bed slats comes in handy when you need extras for added safety or replacements for broken, missing or lost slats.

Beginning about 10 inches from the headboard, use a metal measuring tape to measure straight across from one side of the bed frame to the other. Make sure that the tape is held against the inside of the frame. (You'll get the most accurate measurements if you enlist a helper for this step.) Write down the width measurement.

Measure the width of the bed again about 10 inches from the footboard, to make sure there is no discrepancy in the width of the bed frame from top to bottom.

If there is a difference of more than ½ inch between the two measurements, take four separate, equidistant measurements (for a twin bed) along the length of the bed. (Be sure to label the measurements as "slat 1, 2, 3 and 4" as you write them down.) Queen- and king-size beds will require five or six slats, so measure accordingly.

Take your measurements to a lumber yard or home supply store. Have 1-by-4 inch boards cut ½ inch shorter than your width measurements, or purchase the boards and cut them yourself at home.

Position the slats in the bed frame. For a platform bed, position the mattress directly on the bed slats. Use box springs under the mattress for added comfort.


Precision in measurement and cutting is important to assure that slats will fit the bed frame without shifting out of place. When cutting boards, use an angle or T-square to mark a pencil line across the board and use it as your cutting guide.

Things You'll Need

  • Retractable metal measuring tape
  • 1-by-4 inch boards (pine or birch)
  • 12-inch or larger hand saw
  • Angle or T-square
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About the Author

Rae Casto began writing professionally in 1982. She writes on a variety of topics including health, nutrition, art and culture for various websites. Casto holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and art from Guilford College and a Master of Public Administration in health administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.