How to make a homemade folding camper bed

Written by robert dyer
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How to make a homemade folding camper bed
Creating your own homemade folding camper bed gives you a place to sleep off the ground when camping. (colourful bed linen on a wooden bed image by ann triling from Fotolia.com)

Making your own homemade folding camper bed will allow you to construct a bed you can use for years to come, whether to keep you off the ground when camping or for when guests come to visit. With some common hardware shop materials and a little ingenuity, you can make a 1.8 m (6 foot) long bed that can be folded up from a 90 cm (3 foot) width to a 10 cm (4 inch) width.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Duck cloth canvas, 1.8 m by 1.2 m (6 by 4 feet)
  • Upholstery sewing needle
  • Heavy-duty outdoor upholstery thread
  • 2 dowels, 5 cm (2 inch) diameter, 1.95 m (6 1/2 feet) long
  • 4 cottar pin
  • 2 or 3 2.5 by 10 cm (1 by 4 inch) "1-by-4" boards, 30 cm (1 foot) long
  • Drill
  • 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) drill bit
  • Circle cutting drill bit, 5 cm (2 inch) diameter
  • 4 steel bolts with cottar pin holes, 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) diameter, 10 cm (4 inches) long
  • 2 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) carriage bolts with threaded ends
  • 2 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) lock washers
  • 2 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) wing nuts
  • 4 5 cm by 10 cm (2 by 4 inch) "2-by-4" boards, 60 cm (2 feet) long
  • 2 twin bedsheets
  • Piece of foam, 1.8 m by 90 cm (6 by 3 feet)
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Epoxy glue
  • Rag
  • Straight pins
  • Water
  • Scissors
  • 2 6 mm (1/4 inch) buttons

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Instructions

    Bed legs

  1. 1

    Place two of the 2-by-4s perpendicular to each other, creating a cross with 90-degree angles.

  2. 2

    Drill a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) hole through the "2-by-4s" in the dead centre of this cross.

  3. 3

    Push one of the 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) carriage bolts through this hole and out the other side.

  4. 4

    Place a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) lock washer over the threaded end of the 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) carriage bolt.

  5. 5

    Tighten a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) wing nut down on the threaded end of the carriage bolt to secure it. This creates one set of legs for the bed that will go on one end.

  6. 6

    Repeat steps 1 to 5 to create the second set of legs for the bed.

    Cross braces

  1. 1

    Measure and mark a point on each of the crosspieces of the legs 10 cm (4 inches) up from the carriage bolts. Make sure that the points on each crosspiece are in line with one another.

  2. 2

    Place one of the "1-by-4s" in line with these points. This piece needs to be in a straight line between the two points on the crosspieces of the legs to make sure that the bed will be level.

  3. 3

    Drill a 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) hole through the "1-by-4" and the "2-by-4" crosspieces of the bed's legs at each of the points you marked.

  4. 4

    Push one of the 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) diameter, 10 cm (4 inch) long steel bolts with cottar pin holes through each of the holes.

  5. 5

    Push the cottar pins through the holes on the bolts. This secures the bed legs while keeping them apart from one another on each side.

  6. 6

    Repeat steps 1 to 5 on the other set of the bed's legs. The cross braces can be removed once the bed is constructed, allowing it to fold up from a 90 cm (3 foot) width to a 10 cm (4 inch) width.

    Side rails

  1. 1

    Measure and mark a point on each of the bed's legs 15 cm (6 inches) up from the cross braces. This will create two points, one on each leg that goes on the bed's ends that should be in line with one another and will make the bed's side frame holes for the 5 cm (2 inch) dowels we will install later.

  2. 2

    Drill a 5 cm (2 inch) hole using the 5 cm (2 inch) circle cutting bit at each of the points marked in step one. This makes the holes for the 5 cm (2 inch) dowel side pieces to fit on the legs that will be at each end of the bed.

  3. 3

    Put epoxy glue around the dowel on each end of each of the 5 cm (2 inch) dowels.

  4. 4

    Push the 5 cm (2 inch) diameter dowels into the holes on one set of the legs at one end of the bed. Then on the opposite end of the bed repeat this step to create a bed with legs on each end and two dowels running down the sides.

  5. 5

    Clean off with the rag any excess epoxy glue that is on the outside edge of the bed legs around the holes where the 5 cm (2 inch) diameter dowels were pushed into. This makes the bed ends look more professional. This now completes the bed's frame.

    Canvas base

  1. 1

    Place the 1.8 m by 1.2 m (6 foot by 4 foot) duck cloth canvas lengthwise along the bed. It should measure 1.2 m (4 feet) across and 1.8 m (6 feet) long covering the bed frame.

  2. 2

    Fold and pin under one side of the canvas enveloping the side frame dowel in the process to where the side frame dowel is now encased in the duck cloth canvas.

  3. 3

    Repeat step 2 on the opposite side of the bed. You should now have the bed frame covered with a piece of canvas between the side dowels that run down the sides of the bed.

  4. 4

    Sew the sides of the canvas using the upholstery sewing needle and heavy-duty outdoor upholstery thread. This will secure the canvas to the bed frame.

  5. 5

    Wet the canvas and lie on it to stretch it out a little bit. This is needed so that the canvas base will not rip when someone goes to sleep on the bed.

    Mattress

  1. 1

    Sew the twin sheets together on three sides creating an envelope from them for holding the foam.

  2. 2

    Slide the 1.8 m by 90 cm (6 foot by 3 foot) piece of foam into the sheet envelope.

  3. 3

    Cut two holes on the open end of the sheet that are in line with one another that the 6 mm (1/4 inch) buttons can fit through.

  4. 4

    Sew around the edge of the button holes cut in step 3 to ensure that the sheets will not tear or ravel out at the button holes.

  5. 5

    Sew the 6 mm (1/4 inch) buttons to the sheet where they will fit through the button holes. This allows the end of the mattress to be buttoned closed.

  6. 6

    Lay the completed mattress on the bed's canvas base. This completes the bed. When you want to close the bed up, simply remove the mattress and the "1-by-4s" from each of the legs on the end by removing the cottar pins and bolts holding them in place. Then you can fold the bed up. The bed will go from being 90 cm (3 feet) wide to 10 cm (4 inches) wide.

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