How to Assemble a Wooden Futon Frame

Helen Sterling

Futons are a basic piece of furniture in many college dorm rooms and first apartments. The sliding wooden frame we know today as a futon was developed by William Brouwer in 1982 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Having lived in Japan and slept on the thick mattresses commonly used there, he developed a convertible oak frame that allowed the bed to morph into a seating unit. Wooden futons typically arrive unassembled and two people can put one together. Allen wrenches are the most common tool for assembly and are usually part of the hardware package.


If the barrel nuts rotate out of alignment while you're inserting the long screws, use a screwdriver to realign them so the screw catches in the threads of the barrel nut. Tape the Allen wrench to an unobtrusive part of the frame so it's easy to find if the screws need tightening or the frame needs to be disassembled.


Over-tightening can crack the stretchers.

  1. Unpack the wooden futon from its packaging materials. Match the futon pieces and hardware with the assembly instructions, ensuring all pieces are accounted for.

  2. Place the front and back stretcher pieces on the floor. Place one arm section at either end of the stretchers with the grooves facing toward the inside of the frame.

  3. Insert one barrel nut into each opening on the front and back stretcher bars. Barrel nuts have a groove; place the nut with the groove facing outward and visible, and running horizontally.

  4. Position the stretcher bars so the barrel nuts face the inside of the frame. Insert one long screw through each hole in the arm sections, from the outside of the section into the matching holes in the stretcher bars and into the barrel nut placed in Step 3. Tighten the screws enough to hold the frame together, but do not over-tighten.

  5. Place the seat and back decks on the floor. Insert one long clevis pin through each hinge point where the deck pieces meet. Secure the clevis pin in the frame by inserting a cotter pin through the hole at the end of the clevis pin.

  6. Attach the slide rollers to the back deck frame with a clevis pin. Secure the clevis pin to the deck frame with a cotter pin inserted through the end of the clevis pin.

  7. Place the deck on the frame assembled in Step 1, with the back deck frame slide rollers aligned with the grooves in the frame. Lay the deck assembly flat. Tighten the long screws with the Allen wrench, being careful not to over-tighten the screws.

  8. Fold the frame into the upright position and place the mattress on the frame.