May 15, 2024 4 min read

How to Make a DIY Slider Bed Frame for Van Life

Creating a custom slider bed for your van can be an enriching DIY project, especially if you're embarking on a new van life adventure. In this blog, we'll guide you through making a DIY van life slider bed using EMT Conduit and Maker Pipe Connectors. This project is not only practical but also customizable to fit your specific needs and space limitations.

Build Overview

I am 6 foot 6 inches tall and back when I built this bed I weighed around 275 pounds. I made this slider bed for my 2000 Chevy Astro Van and the bed dimensions were specific to me and my van. You can customize the dimensions to fit your needs and van or use my cut list below to create the exact same frame. A lot of people asked about the weight of this bed. Doing some rough calculations I estimate that it is between 90 and 100 pounds. I lifted and moved it by myself but it's shape and size is pretty cumbersome for one person. People were also asking about the total cost. All of the conduit and connectors came out to roughly $380.

As mentioned a couple of times above, I used electrical conduit and Maker Pipe Connectors for this bed build. I want to give a brief introduction to these materials in case you're unfamiliar with them. EMT (electrical metallic tubing) Conduit is a readily available tube that you can find in places like Menards, Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and other hardware and home improvement stores. It's very cost effective and easy to work with. You can cut it with a handheld pipe and tube cutter which comes in handy if you're building with no access to a shop or electricity.

Maker Pipe is a configurable building system of connectors that you can use to join and connect pieces of conduit together for DIY projects. They are designed to be beginner friendly and have some helpful features built in. They rely on friction which means you don't have to do any drilling. You only need one hand tool (5mm hex wrench) to put them together. They are made in South Carolina with American steel and finished with a durable zinc coating.

Cut List

Here is the cut list for my exact bed frame. You'll notice a star in front of the 84" length. That's because one of the two spans will be cut up later in the build process. Here is a step by step tutorial for cutting EMT Conduit if you're new to the tool.

Parts List

Tools Needed

Step 1 - The Main Bed Frame

The main frame is pretty straightforward. You'll use four of the 1" 90 Degree Connectors to create a basic rectangle with four vertical legs. The main thing to keep in mind here is the orientation of the 90 Degree Connectors. Make sure the center through connection is facing the side where you want the extension to slide in and out.

Step 2 - Add A Support Rung

Next you'll want to add a support rung around the bottom of the frame using two more of the 1" 90 Degree Connectors and two 1" T Connectors. I used 3/4" EMT Conduit with adapter shims for the bottom brace to save a little money but feel free to use 1" EMT Conduit here if you'd like. One side of the frame is left open for storing things underneath.

Step 3 - Loosely Put The Slats In Place

Next you will add the slats that also double as the extension slider housing. I found it helpful to put the conduit and connectors in place loosely so I could get the spacing correct. You'll be using eight 1" T Connectors and one 1" 90 Degree Connector in this step.

Step 4 - A Little Bit Of Surgery

Earlier I mentioned that we would be cutting up one of the 84" lengths. This is the step where that takes place. With the slats sitting across the 84" span, you can loosely put the 1" 180 Degree Connectors in place to see where to make cuts for the slats. You'll repeat this process all the way down. In the middle be sure to use a 1" 4-Way Connector instead of a 180. This adds a vertical support and braces the bed frame. After the slats are secured you'll have the main frame finished.

Step 5 - Build The Slider Extension Frame

The final part of this project is the slider. It's extremely helpful to use the main frame as a guide for the extension assembly. Flip the bed on it's side and face the open side of the frame up. Then place all eleven of the 3/4" EMT extension slats inside the open ends of conduit in the main frame. From there, you will use three of the 3/4" 90 Degree Connectors and eight of the 3/4" T Connectors to assemble the slider.


As mentioned above, this bed frame is infinitely customizable and can be made to fit your specific van and needs. Below are some custom van beds sent in by customers. Don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions regarding your custom van bed. We are here and happy to help when we can!