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  • Writer's pictureThe Desert Cruisers

DIY Bed Frame Platform for Van Build or Box Truck

Updated: Apr 6

Bed Frame Platform DIY Van Build / Expedition Box Truck
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You can definitely find multiple ways in doing a DIY bed frame platform, or by making it lighter, BUT this is the choice we made that was readily available to us. There are definitely better ways to do this, but if you're interested in how to build a DIY bed frame for your Van or Box Truck with Baltic Burch Plywood, 2x4's, and 2x2s, this is the blog for you. You can definitely choose what works best for you in how you cut your wood, to how you build your platform, but we felt that this was a straightforward and simple option for us and within our skills in our DIY Expedition Truck build.

Measure and Cut for DIY Bed Frame Platform

We used 3/4" baltic burch plywood. This will go on the front of the box. Our sheet of wood is 96"W x 48"T, and we need our cut to be 91"W x 44.5"T. We didn't have a table saw as much as we would of liked to have one, so we used our trusty Dewalt Circular Saw that was used in our Van Build back in 2019 and still works to this day! So we clamped an aluminum angle down, and cut our piece. Worked for us every time we cut in this build.

Baltic Burch Plywood

As you can see our 14ft Morgan Box has curves on the right and left sides, so a 91" W was perfect to fit snug to the corners.

Parts & Tools

Parts & Tools for DIY Bed Frame

Baltic Burch Plywood




Aluminum Angle for a guide

220 Grit Sand Paper

Orange Triangle

1/4 inch - 20 hex bolts

Fender Washer

Ryobi Compound Miter Saw

Kreg Jig & Screws

Construction Screws

Game Plan

The plan is to use this sheet as a bed support. To do this, we are going to utilize the the steel studs where the wood platform rests on and rivnut locations out to hold it in place.

First things first, mark on the 91" W baltic burch piece where the studs are, so it's easy to know where to drill your holes to mount with rivnuts. Second step is to figure out where the 2x4s will be sitting. They will be placed vertically and mounted on notches cut out on the baltic burch plywood.

Marking the Steel Studs

Marking for Steel Studs

After marking all the studs with a pencil, bring the piece of wood outside, then trace all your markings on the plywood. You'll then be able to measure the centers of your markings so that your rivnut will be in the dead center.

Making 2x4 Slots in our Baltic Burch Piece

Cutting Baltic Burch Plywood

The 2x4s are going to have slots cut onto the top of the Baltic Burch piece of wood, so we needed to make sure that the bottom of our 2x4s are sitting no shorter than 41 inches on the baltic burch. This is so that they can clear our mountain bikes which is a huge priority in this build. We evenly spread out 4 notched out locations in between our marked steel stud locations. For the notches, the goal is to make it as tight as possible so there is a friction fit.

Rivnut Locations on the Steel Studs

It's time to get prepped for our rivnut locations to mount on the steel studs. Since we marked in the beginning on where the rivnut locations would be, we also drew a line to have as the dead center of each stud and that is how we know where we will be drilling our holes.

We're using 1/4" - 20 Rivnuts which requires a 3/8" drill bit hole. We got 1/4" - 20 Bolts Hex head and big fender washer that will be inserted and visible on the inside, under the bed.

Stud locations with bolts and washers

We drilled 3 holes on each stud location spread out evenly. There are 5 studs total that we are able to use, so 15 mounting points total.

Installing Rivnuts

This will be a fairly simple process, first by holding the wood and lining it up to our markings. Use the same size drill bit, and tap the studs so that we know where to drill our rivnut locations. Then use a sharpie to mark those small punctures to help you find them easily for the drilling process.

The drill bit needs to be a 3/8 sized hole that is appropriate for the 1/4 - 20 rivnuts.

Since the studs are hollow behind them, we used some leftover shiplap to stuff behind the studs as we drill out our locations. We were concerned because it could very well go out of the aluminum box, so doing this helped block the drill from going out the box.

After drilling all the holes, be sure to spray with Rust-Oleum since they are steel studs.

Time to finally install the rivnuts! Make sure you have your rivnut tool! We bought a cheap but great tool from Harbor Frieght. The rivnuts are 1/4" - 20 with our bolts.

Open up your rivnut tool, thread the rivnut all the way down until it's snug, insert it in your first hole, then press the tool together which will be a tight squeeze. Then open it, and there is a tool in the center where you unthread and it releases the tool from the rivnut.

Installing the Baltic Burch Plywood to the Rivnuts

Now that all 15 rivnuts are installed, it's time to bring the sheet over! When installing rivnuts it's always a tricky task making sure everything is properly lined up. Even the pros make mistakes and you may need to enlarge your holes on the baltic burch for the bolt to perfectly line up with the rivnuts. You can easily cover up your enlarged holes with a fat washer and it will look just as clean. Also be sure to seal and clear coat with osmo oil.

DIY Bed Platform for Van Build or Expedition Box Truck

Sides for the Bed Platform

Next, we put up horizontal support beams on the exteriors of our baltic burch plywood. It was the same process as before. Traced the steel studs onto the 2x4's, drilled out rivnut locations and put it all together. We used 4 mounting locations since there were 4 studs it could reach. We made the cut for our support beams to fit a queen size bed.

DIY Bed Platform for Van Build or Expedition Box Truck

Once those sides were in, we moved onto the front support which is also another 2x4. We placed the 2x4 in front of of the left and right support beams. Wood glued it and screwed it to the front and then we officially had our floating platform.

Now that the framing is ready, we will be cutting more 2x4s to slide into the notches of our back wall, and then gluing and screwing them from the front support of the bed framing. Fitting them in the notches made it friction fit very well. So in total there are 6 supports that will hold the bed platform, and now it’s starting to look like something!

Finishing the Framing

For the base, we decided to use 2x2 to glue and screw down to the width of our bed on the floor.

Wood Gluing DIY Bed Platform for Van Build or Expedition Box Truck

Next step is cutting and fitting our 1/2" baltic burch platform that will be the actual bed base!

We cut out two large pieces (pretty evenly) to fit the width and length of the platform.

Continuing onto the vertical posts that will support the front of the bed. This part of the build was definitely a challenge because our wood flooring isn’t the most perfect flat platform although it appears to be on camera. But there are slight differences in a couple centimeters so we did each post one by one and each had slightly different measurements and we wanted them to be friction fit as possible.

Once you have them all cut, you’ll use a kreg jig kit and glue and screw the tops and bottoms. Be sure to use a triangle to help you keep things straight from all sides. We also wanted the vertical beams in the front to be spread out evenly as well. So we put 4 of the 5 beams in because we knew we’d need to get big items in and out from the center.

DIY Bed Platform for Van Build or Expedition Box Truck

Also because our two wood platforms base for our bed meet in the center, we will want to provide support with more 2x4's horizontally to reinforce it. We put 3 more 2x4's to help it structurally.

DIY Bed Platform for Van Build or Expedition Box Truck

Now that the framing is all done, use osmo oil if you didn't do it prior already.

Then be sure to test out the framing by playing on your new jungle gym.

DIY Bed Platform for Van Build or Expedition Box Truck

Bed Platform For Mattress

The two wood platforms need to have holes drilled into it to prevent mold and condensation under the mattress by providing ventilation.

We did so many holes and tried to spread them all out. There isn't one perfect way to doing this. Just use your hole saw and have at it! Don't drop your Starbucks drink while doing so.

Make sure to sand the holes with 220 grit sand paper and then use 220 grit with the palm sander, then seal it with osmo oil and we used an old rag. We used two coats on each side, and let it naturally dry in between coats.

And there you have it! Bring in your bed platforms, and the bed frame is officially done! Screw these platforms on your 2x4's and you're all set.

Finished Bed Platform

DIY Bed Platform for Van Build or Box Truck



From 2020 to 2023, we embraced life on the road in our DIY sprinter van, The Desert Cruiser. With no prior building experience, we transformed our van into a home, exploring deserts and rainforests, seeking the best campsites, mountain biking, and living our dream. In June 2022, a new dream emerged — building a 2022 Ford F550 into our DIY Earthroamer. With hopes of future family adventures, we found our dream truck in Texas. We believe anything is possible and aim to inspire others to explore life to the fullest!

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