How do I Build a Mates Bed?

The term "mate's bed" and "captain's bed" are commonly used terms referring to the same style of bed. Well known for their under-the-bed storage system, which utilizes space that would otherwise dismissed, the mate's bed has one row of drawers beneath the mattress, and the captain's bed has two. The frame for a mate's bed places the mattress 16 inches from the floor or higher depending on individual taste. Build your own and you can decide how big or small to make it. Keep in mind, though, that it will need to match a standard mattress size.

Shop Now on Society6
  1. Mark the sides for the crosspieces. Put the two pieces of 16-by-75-by-3/4-inch pieces of plywood on a worktable. These are the bed frame sides. Measure from one corner of one of the sides and make marks on one 75-inch side at 13, 33, 42 and 62 inches. Place a framing square on the marks and draw lines across the plywood.

  2. Draw lines on one of the sides for the drawer openings. Measure from one 75-inch side of one piece and make marks on the lines at 4 and 12 inches. Put the framing square on the marks at 3 and 12 1/2 inches, and draw lines connecting the lines at 13 and 33 inches and then the 42- and 62-inch lines. The result is two rectangles measuring 20-by-9 1/2 inches.

  3. Cut the drawer openings with a jigsaw. Drill a 5/8-inch hole inside the rectangles near a corner. Insert the blade of the jigsaw into the hole and cut out the rectangles.

  4. Secure the bed frame end pieces between the sides. Apply glue to the 16-inch ends of the two pieces of 16-by-39-by-3/4-inch plywood. Secure them between the frame sides on either end using finish nails. The lines drawn on the sides should be facing each other.

  5. Attach the crosspieces between the sides. Apply glue to the ends of the 15 1/4-by-39-by-3/4-inch plywood. Using finish nails, secure them between the 75-inch pieces even with the sides of the drawer openings on one side and the lines on the other. Install the cabinet side of drawer slides to the pieces on either side of the drawer opening with the screws provided.

  6. Build the drawer boxes. Place two of the 9-by-20-by-3/4-inch plywood pieces between two of the 9-by-19-by-3/4-inch pieces, one on either end. Secure them with drywall screws. Set the 17 1/2-by-20-by-3/4-inch plywood inside the assembly as the bottom of the drawer box and secure it with drywall screws. Repeat this with the remaining plywood of the same size.

  7. Fasten the drawer boxes to the drawer fronts. Make marks 1 1/4 inch from the 22-inch sides of the 1-by-12-by-22-inch lumber, and 1 inch from the other two sides. Put the 19-inch side of the drawer boxes on the drawer fronts and align them with the marks. Secure them with drywall screws.

  8. Install the drawer box side of the drawer slides to the drawers, and insert them in the drawer openings in the side of the mate's bed. Set the 39-by-75-by-3/4-plywood on top of the mate's bed. Drill two holes near the sides of the plywood with the 1-inch drill bit. These are for removing the plywood when needed.


  • Do not use drawer slides that cannot hold the weight the drawer will hold.

About the Author

Michael Straessle has written professionally about the construction industry since 1988. He authored “What a Strange Little Man,” among other books, and his work has appeared in various online publications. Straessle earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in professional/technical writing.