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There are several types of frames. The most common and least expensive is called the Sandbox.

The Sandbox comes in four-board or five-board variations. The main difference is the fifth board is attached to the topboard and acts as a headboard.

The image shown is a five-board laid out on the floor. The headboard and topboard are identical.


The Extended Frame is a different type of frame. It varies from the four-board in that the two sides stick out about a foot past the topboard.

These extensions allow a bookcase headboard to sit atop the extensions. These are then attached usually with flat straps so the headboard is stable.

If you are interested in this type frame, you will have to figure out the dimensions on your own.

Four-board and five-board frame dimensions:

SuperSingle 84" long X 2 Boards 50 1/8" long X 2 Boards *
Cal. Queen 84" long X 2 Boards 62 1/8" long X 2 Boards *
Cal King 84" long X 2 Boards 74 1/8" long X 2 Boards *

* Add an additional Board if you desire a headboard.

Typically the two side boards or the top and bottom boards have a 1/2" rabbet. This allows it to slide down over the deck boards. It creates a more stable place for your mattress.

Rabbit Joint

A Rabbit is a basic corner joint typically used on the back of cabinets.

I made my rabbets on the two side boards.
The board dimensions listed above reflect that. Many factory beds have the head and foot boards rabbeted.

The way I did mine was with a router and a 1/2" rabbeting bit, taking out 1/4" depth at a time. Trying to cut too much will result in tear-outs or kick-backs from the router.

If working with hardwood or plywood cut even less on each pass.

You could just as well use a table saw or even a circular saw with a good guide.

Be sure your circular saw or table saw is adjusted square. Mine was slightly tilted and the joinery shows it. Use a good quality square to make your cuts. Measure twice, cut once, as usual.

Once you have cut the 4 or 5 boards and rabbeted the two side boards, you are ready to work on the decking.

Frame Assembly

I temporarily assembled mine on the floor by laying it out so I would know later where the pedestal riser should be laid out.

You can use the frame to measure, mark and make cuts to the decking.


I had one guy tell me his frame was a little wobbly. Since these are simple butt joints there are several reasons a frame could be wobbly. One would be the floor the bed is sitting on is not flat.

Another possibility would be that the cuts at the board ends are not square. You have a few bad cuts and the errors will add up and it won't be a very tight project.

One possibility is not getting the screw holes lined up right resulting in looseness at each joint.

Yet another possibility would be using L-brackets or screws that are too small.

My bed came out very tight and basically immobile.

Frame Finishing

Use the stain and finish of your choice. I prefer a danish type oil with stain built in. You could paint it black. Most use a honey or light walnut stain and then a clear finish.

Be sure you do this before installing your waterbed mattress. It's too difficult later.

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