college of engineering white

Project 5: Platform Bed


Our team was tasked with creating a platform bed for a child with spinal muscular atrophy which will allow her to more easily get in and out as well as keep her in the bed during the night. Individuals with spinal muscular atrophy often have difficulties walking and crawling as they have limited use of their legs and thus often have difficulty getting around particularly with getting in and out of bed.

Evan Hayes, John Piggott, Cody Bennet, Ethan Wilson

Problem Statement

Individuals with spinal muscular atrophy have difficulty moving around especially getting in and out of bed. Our design aims to address these issues designing a bed that will allow them to get in and out quite easily as well as keep them in throughout the night.

Design Specifications

  • Mattress Dimensions: 75″x54″x12″ (full mattress)
  • Height of Child: 31.5″
  • Keep child from leaving bed
  • Low to the ground
  • At least one gate
  • Rails strong enough to support child’s movement
  • Can be used indefinitely
  • No boxspring
  • Pig themed in some way

Background Research

  • Low Platform Beds:
    • Many examples of low platform beds exist and are commonly used, some even feature gates similar to our designs. These beds are made for children/adults with reduced mobility so looking into them will provide much needed insight to what our bed needs and how to build it.
  • General Bed Research:
    • On average beds can support 500 lbs.
    • Beds require proper ventilation to prevent mold and mildew growth when a box-spring isn’t present.
  • Wood Working Knowledge:
    • Proper use of wood and the techniques for joinery is a must if our design is to be sturdy and last for years to come.

Concept Design 1

Concept design 1 is a standard approach to a platform, safety bed. It is heavily inspired by a photo the family provided; however, there are noticeable changes to the design. The rails will be tall enough to restrict climbing out of the bed, and a gate will be featured on opposing sides to allow any placement of the bed that is desired. The gates and rails will have a pig pen design, as pigs are the child’s favorite animal.

Concept Design 2

Concept design 2 is inspired by a covered wagon with a mesh like top cloth cover leaning into the farm style theming for the bed. It will be designed to have a removable top cover, wheels, and gate to allow for customizable later down the line if or when the child feels they no longer like this arrangement allowing them to still use the bed frame and mattress.

Concept Design 3

Concept Design 3 focuses heavily on the pig/farm theming featuring a frame that not only meets the requirements but is fun for the child. This design is a a low platform bed with an outer shell themed around a red barn with large sliding doors either side featuring pig theming and lights inside as well. Additionally, the panels and roof can be removed later if or when the child feels they no longer want them.

Selected Concept Design

When looking at all aspects of the three proposed beds we chose to go with Concept Design 1. This model provides not only the safest and lowest cost build of the bed but the greatest longevity with removal of rails and the gates making it the most logical choice when compared to the rather lofty ambitions of designs 2 and 3.  One thing of note in our design is the desire to incorporate greater farm theming into the design so an additional focus is to be placed toward that in the final.

Decision Matrix

Overview of Selected Design

The main structure of the selected design uses the same structure from concept design 1. This is because of the simplicity, longevity, and lower cost of concept design 1. Along with this, the selected design will include an overhead fabric, facade that is similar to that of concept design 2. This will allow for more customizability in the overall design, adding to the farm theme that the family wishes for. The facade will be easily removable which allows for both ease of access top clean the bed and full removability, if desired, when the child is older. Combining these two aspects of concept designs 1 and 2, gives the selected design the best features of both while still maintaining all of the family’s desired characteristics for the bed.

Describe Design Details

All items in our design will be made from poplar wood and later stained grey as per the family’s wishes with the exceptions of bolts, hinges latches, etc… which will be made from steel of differing grades specified in the Bill of Materials.


  • The headboard and footboard will be identical each having 2.5″ x 2.5″ x 48″ wooden posts with 2.25″ x 12″ x 54″ boards at the bottom attaching them and 2.5″ x 2.5″ x 54″ handrails at the top. It will also feature 3″x.75″x 28″ styles cut from identical shapes to act as railings which will feature throughout the model embedded in the top rail and bottom board through a 0.5″ channel cut along the item which will be uniform through all style attachments.


  • The sides are quite similar to the headboard and footboard using much of the same dimensions for the styles, handrails, and supporting boards with the addition of 3/8″ – 16 bolts and embedded nuts throughout for attaching to the other elements.
  • With this section divided into two segments (one for the gate and the other railings) it was deemed necessary to add two additional posts (being the same used in the headboard and footboard) to either side separating the bottom board into 34″ and 36.25″ segments of the same height and depth as used in the headboard and footboard to be attached using Rockler 4″ bed brackets.
  • This also means that the handrails for the non-gate segments must match these dimensions.


  • Once more the gates feature similar dimensions as the rest of the bed being 34″ to coincide with one divided segment of the sides. However, the styles are now reduced in height to be only 27″ with a similar handrail and 1.5″ x 2.5″ x 36″ boards the the sides and bottom for stability and to serve as attachment points for the hinges and latches.
  • The gate will be attached using two half-barrel hinges and two sliding gate latches both at equal heights and have the potential to add locks later.

Slats and Other Mattress Holdings:

  • A small edge 4″ x 0.5″ x 80″ will be attached to the lower part of the side segments where the bed slats will then rest on supporting the mattress.
  • The stats chosen were Mayton, 0.68-Inch Horizontal Mattress Support Wooden Bunkie Board/Bed Slats, Full, Beige.

Barn Facade:

  • The final segment of the design is the separate barn facade being assembled from PVC tubing and draped over with nylon fabric made in the image of a barn featuring cows and pigs which will then be simply ties to the bed with the potential to have it removed later


All this allows for the creation of a safe bed which will keep the child in place and be fun with creative theming and longevity of use.

Engineering Analysis 1

For our first engineering analysis, we chose to examine the 3″ deep by 28″ high styles made from Poplar to determine how wide they have to be. To do this we examined the styles based on compressive stress and flexural stress to see what width would work for all situations. From this we determined that a width of 0.6469 in (or 0.75 in for ease of building) would be sufficient for our design.

Engineering Analysis 3

For engineering analysis 3, the focus was on the screws being used for the gate hinges. The chosen screw material is galvanized steel, as it is the most cost effective option. With this in mind, the psi rating for the screws is 60,000psi. Using this rating, and our assumed 500lb force maximum, the minimum diameter of the screws was found to be 0.103in.

CAD Drawings

Bill of Materials

Document Fabrication Process

For the fabrication of the bed we first acquired our poplar wood, with most of it coming form Dr. Canfield and others from a supplier, before then planing the wood and cutting it to correct sizes. Then some pieces were jointed with the help of Dr. Pardue and glued to create the poles and larger bottom beam pieces. It was in this the decision was made to reduce the bottom beam pieces to 1″ and the poles/handrails to 2″ by 2″ based on what was available from our supply. From this we then began cutting the shapes of the styles out on the bandsaw using a router to improve the edges of each. During this time the choice was also made to use a biscuit joiner rather than a Dato stack to save time in assembling the railings. Once done the threaded inserts could then be inserted from a small 1/2″ hole drilled where needed. This then allowed us to assemble the gates and side pieces which used primarily glue with screws and finishing nails added for stability in the gates and a scrap wood assembly being used to hold the large pieces together. Following this the Rockler attachments could be added to all side pieces and poles having had channels for them beforehand using the router and being ground down to allow for correct assembly. Then finally, the holes for the bolt attachments could be drilled and the finial bed assembly could be then be done completing the bed. The staining and varnishing of the bed it was decided would be done by the family in the interest of time and to make sure that all aspects done by us were to the highest standard possible.

Testing Results

Testing the bed consisted of making sure the gate swung freely and the latches functioned as designed as well as making sure the bed could support the weight of a mattress and child in a safe manner.

Completed Design Photos

Instructions for Safe Use

For safe use of the bed first make sure the mattress is firmly settled on the slats in the bed. Then open the gate allowing the child to enter then closing and locking (if need be) securing the child in place. From this the child can then sleep peacefully and safe without worry of falling out.

As far assembly, first lay out the pieces in the correct layout i.e. headboard up front, sides on the sides, etc. Then using the bolts bolt each piece into the posts again making sure that each piece goes where it is needed. Next attach the rockler attachments in the middle securing the outer bed frame. Finally lay the slats into place and attach the gates finishing the bed completing the assembly. Disassembly is the same but in reverse.

Project Summary/Reflection

Our project required us to build a platform bed for a child with spinal muscular atrophy to better allow her to get in and out more easily. This required us to develop a lot of skills in woodworking and design with wood that previously we had no knowledge in. It also required a lot of effort and time to do right making sure that every detail was to the highest standard it could possibly be while still being safe for the child. And while were weren’t able to stain and varnish in the time given and a threaded insert failed during the final construction, we are still very happy with the end product and feel that this was an enriching experience that provided skills that will last a lifetime while also giving something to a child that will enrich her life too.

We would like thank Dr. Canfield, Dr. Pardue, Chris Mills, Jeff Randolph, Marilyn Jensen, and all the student in the ME shop who helped us in this project for all the help and guidance along the way. We couldn’t have done it without you!


2023 Fall