First let me start by saying that I have not had a bed for 5 years! Moving around every year I just had a mattress and boxspring on the floor. I came across Ana-White.com looking for plans to build a bookshelf. I am so thankful for running across this site! My husband is deployed so I decided to fill up my time making furniture :-) I saw several plans for beds and couldn't make a decision which one to make :-P So I just ran to Lowe's, bought some wood, and decided to figure it out as I went.
I bought the cheapest wood available. Everything is either a 1x2, 1x3, or 1x4 except for the side rails. I decided to just buy one wide piece for the side rails. I'm really into the "rustic" look, so instead of making pocket holes, I nailed or screwed right into the wood from the outside. I also took the hammer and "banged up" the headboard and footboard before I stained it.
Let me make another suggestion since I'm talking about staining! Do 1 coat of stain BEFORE putting everything together. The headboard I didn't stain until it was completely finished being built. I guess I'm a little more OCD than I thought because I had to keep going over it to get in the cracks :-P The footboard, I stained the planks before building the footboard, and I was much happier with it because afterwards I just did another coat of stain to get all the pieces that were sawed off or screwed into. This stain is the Minwax English Chestnut #223. I finished it with Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane in Clear Semi-Gloss.
For the side rails, I used corner brackets on the inside and the hinges on the outside. The hinges give it a rustic look as well as make it easy to take apart :-) My main thing was portability since we are a military family and are always moving around!
Funny story, I put everything together, then put one of the boxsprings on, wondered why it fell through!!! This genius forgot to make the support slats :-P So back out to my circular saw and I made several supports! I actually put the "feet" under every support slat. The middle slat and the ones closest to the footboard and headboard, I actually used corner brackets and screwed them to the support slat holder on the inside of the side rails. When I finally finished, jumped on the bed. It didn't move :-) I think the feet on each slat and the little extra hold on 3 of the support slats work great for the plan.