Converting a 3/4 Bed Frame to a Full for a Song

Sarah recently came home with a lovely antique mahogany bedframe, with beautifully turned bobbin motifs. It was a great score, the problem was that it was a 3/4 bed frame. Though no longer manufactured, 3/4 was a common size in years gone by, just shy of a  full but bigger than a twin in contemporary sizing. It’s close enough to a full to look very nice with a full mattress, but still too small to just work. So what to do? We already had a standard-issue steel bed frame for the full bed in our guest room (the kind that comes free with the mattress), so we were interested in this for decorative purposes. Basically, we just wanted the headboard and footboard attached to the existing frame in a reasonably sturdy manner. As it turns out, this is simple enough to accomplish with nothing more than a few bolts and a board.

Here’s how I did it: first, have a look at your existing metal frame. Most of them have a bolt plate at the end to attach a headboard, consisting of a metal right-angle plate with two slots for bolts on each end. Some have this at both ends, but most don’t; this is so that the same adjustable-width frame can work with a queen or a full. We wanted the bed against the wall, so we simply rotated the frame so the headboard plates were at the foot, and wedged the headboard between the bed and the wall. If you felt the need you could affix the headboard directly to the wall with screws, or to the floor with a corner brace. Headboard in place, now on to the footboard. A 3/4 footboard is going to be narrower than a full frame, so there’s no way to bolt it directly in. To solve this, I set about making a wooden board of the necessary width to affix my headboard to, bridging the gap.

I started by measuring the distance between the bolt holes on the bedframe. On a  full, this is typically about  55″. I added 1.5″ to each side to accommodate the bolt holes. The bed frame I had was assembled with bolts to begin with, so I cut my board tall enough to re-use the same hole so that no modification was required to the antique piece. If you’re not trying to re-use holes, you could easily just affix your board to the footboard with wood screws. I cut my board from a piece of 3/4″ plywood stock I had around in the interest of keeping this as cheap as possible.

Next, I clamped the board to the bed frame, traced my hole pattern, and drilled the holes out using a 1/4″ drill bit. Our footboard was designed to hold the mattress up a bit higher than the frame I was bolting it to, so I also cut away with a jigsaw the area of the bottom of the board that sat between the legs of my footboard so that it woudln’t peek out. Once this was done, I spent some time sanding, staining, and varnishing the board. Certainly my plywood would never finish up to the quality of the mahogany footboard I was mating it to, but the bed skirt will almost entirely hide it. That said, you’ll want to make at least some effort to match the board to the footboard, as it will protrude by a few inches on each side and can peek out. You’ll also want to make sure there are no rough edges for sheets to catch on.

The last step was to first bolt the board onto the footboard, and finally bolt the newly-extended footboard onto the bedframe. I used 1/4″ bolts for the purpose, two per side. Tightened down with care, the bed didn’t squeak one bit, and suddenly our lowly metal bedframe was livened up by a previously unusable antique.

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3 Responses to Converting a 3/4 Bed Frame to a Full for a Song

  1. Toni says:

    I want to take an antique 3/4 frame down to a twin. Is it possible?

    • Jon says:

      Hi Toni, a 3/4 measures in at 48″ wide, and a twin is 37.5″ wide, so you’d have 5.25″ or antique bed frame protruding at each side (as compared to 3″ of underlap on each side going from 3/4 to full). So, the same technique ought to work just fine, assuming you the overlap is OK by you. In fact, it might work even better, as you could hide the mounting hardware entirely by bolting the plywood to the metal bedframe in a spot that was hidden from view by the antique, and then affixing the antique with screws from driven through the plywood from the inside. While you could bolt the antique right onto the metal bedframe with a twin, I would add the plywood anyhow for the sake of adding an extra inch or so of length. Otherwise, it may be a challenge to make the bed. Hope that helps, feel free to post any other questions you have!

  2. Hi, I have a 3/4 beautiful antique bed that was hand made by my husbands great grandfather. I would like to convert it to a full size. It just so happens that I have full sz. hook on style rails from another bed. My problem is that all the width adjustment plates are either hook style for the rails and bolt on headboard and foot board. I’m looking to hook both the rails and the head and foot boards. Any suggestions?

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