How to Build a Rope Bed

By Meredith Berg , last updated April 19, 2011

Building a rope beds is a wonderful way to create an alternative to box springs. Rope beds are fairly simple to make and give great support. What follows are instructions are for a twin bed frame that will be 42 inches by 75 inches, so please modify the size as needed for bigger mattresses.


  • 100 foot long manila or hemp rope
  • 50 foot long manila or hemp rope
  • Straining wrench
  • 4 Awls
  • 4 pieces of 22 inch by 5.5 inch wood (the legs)
  • 2 pieces of 42 inch by 5.5 inch wood (the end rails)
  • 2 pieces of 75 inch by 5.5 inch wood (the side rails)
  • 6 bolts
  • 6 washers
  • Wrench
  • Drill
  • Pencil for marking drill holes

Preparing the Wood

Now that you have your lengths of wood, you will want to cut them like Lincoln logs to be able to assemble them together. The legs are fine how they are, but will need three holes at the top (in a triangle shape) that are slightly bigger than your rope width.

The end rails will have the “male” ends of your assembly, and so cut them to give them a protrusion of 2.5 inches. This means cutting into the ends for 1.5 inches on both sides to make a 2.5 inch protrusion. Then drill five holes, evenly spaced, along one edge; wide enough for the rope to go through.

The side rails are the “female” ends of your assembly, and so will need to have a 2.5 inch gap on their ends for the end rails to fit into. Drill seventeen holes for the rope along the edge. Also, drill three holes in a matching triangle formation for bolting the legs onto. To make this easier, line up the legs to the side rails and use their holes to mark your drill points.

Threading the Rope

To start it is recommended to create your bed upside down, with the legs sticking up. Bolt the legs on (and remember to use washers so that your bolts do not slowly cut into the wood over the years). First you will be threading the side rails. Take the 100 feet of rope and thread it from one side rail to the other. After pulling it out, reverse the rope immediately into the next hole and ‘sew’ it back to the other rail. Repeat this until you’ve threaded all seventeen holes.

Use the 50 feet of rope to thread the end rails. Alternate threading over and under the already strung side rail rope.

Tightening the Rope

To tighten, insert the straining wrench along the first loop that you created along your side rail. Twist the wrench until it's taut, and then insert the awl to hold it tight while you move on to the next loop. Move the awl down the line as you tighten the loops. At the final loop, insert the awl and secure the rope with a slip knot.

Once you’ve finished threading and tightening, you can flip your bed over for immediate use. Place your mattress on top and enjoy!

Resources and References
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