The Charpai Bed Guide

A Charpai bed consists of a simple frame with a woven “net” that takes the place of a traditional mattress. Also known as a Manji bed, Char pai, or Charpoy bed, this wonderful woven rope bed is best for warm, tropical climates. Just like a hammock, this type of bed is cool, comfortable, and supportive.

How Charpoy Beds are Made

What if you can’t find a charpai bed for sale? Great news – with a little knowhow, some ingenuity, and a few basic supplies, you can make your own comfortable Indian manja bed.

The basic design for a charpai bed includes a frame with sturdy rails, plus square, tapered, or cylindrical posts. Some authentic charpai beds feature beautifully carved legs, so feel free to incorporate unique elements into your design, if you like! The frame should be sturdy, and the horizontal members should be strong as well. Most charpai beds are built using wood, but some modern versions have metal frames. Strength and durability are more important than appearance here, so use whatever materials you have available and you’ll soon have a comfortable place to spend the night.

charpai, bed
Charpai bed, Usman Ahmed

How to Build a Charpai Bed

Building a charpai bed isn’t difficult. This version uses standard 2×4 lumber and strong 2-1/2” to 3” deck screws, plus the finish of your choice and a sufficient quantity of durable poly rope. Some traditional charpoy beds use up to 450 meters of thin, local rope, but you can get by with a whole lot less. Note that thin rope is more comfortable than thick rope. If you only have thick rope, you’ll probably want to add a thick comforter, tatami mat, or pad to the top of your bed.

1. Decide on dimensions. 6 feet long by 4 feet wide is a nice, traditional size, but you can make your charpoy any size you like. Note that the larger it is, the longer it’s going to take, and the more tightly you’ll need to weave the netting to ensure that you have adequate support.

2. Mark and cut your 2×4 lumber. Cut two long pieces for the sides, two shorter pieces for the ends, and eight pieces for the legs. Make sure that the legs are at least two feet high. If you are tall, consider making a taller charpai bed for yourself.

3. Use sturdy 2-1/2” to 3” deck screws to sandwich the leg pieces together in sets of two, so you have four sturdy legs. You can turn the legs so the sides with the screws are facing inward, this way the visible sides of the legs will have a smooth, attractive appearance.

4. Mark level lines on the legs. You’ll use these to position your side, front and back bed rails. You will want to get a helper for the next step, or obtain some clamps to keep your rails in place.

5. With four deck screws, attach a side rail to one of the legs. You can position the legs inside or outside the rails – either way works just as well. Be sure to attach all the legs so that they’re either inside or outside the frame, otherwise the ends will not match up correctly.

6. Use four deck screws to attach another leg to the first side rail.

7. Repeat steps 5 and six for the other side rail.

8. Use 4 deck screws to attach one end an end rail to one of the charpai’s legs. Bring the other side of the frame into position and attach the other end of the first end rail, again using four screws to assure strength.

9. Repeat step eight for the other end rail. You now have a completely assembled charpai frame.

10. Decide how you’d like to finish your frame. You might want to paint it or stain it, or perhaps you’d like to leave the wood in its natural state. Anything goes!
In case you don’t feel like building your own frame, there’s a fairly easy alternative. If you have a standard bed frame that’s at least two feet high, you may be able to modify it for use as a charpoy bed. Be sure that it’s strong, and ensure that you like the way it looks.

Once the frame has been built or selected, it’s time to work on the woven portion of the charpai. Weaving a charpai is a fine, ancient art form. Luckily, there are a number of very helpful tutorials on YouTube that show different weaving patterns to try. We recommend watching at least a few of these to see which method you like best.

Expect to spend a little time practicing, and don’t worry about being in a hurry. Traditional Indian charpai bedmakers take an average of three days to complete a single project, even when they work in teams. Take it slow, remember this is an artistic pursuit as much as it is a practical one, and enjoy the process.

If you’re in a hurry, you can use woven fabric with grommets around the edges, and use the rope of your choice to go through the grommets and around the frame. Tie a stout knot in the end, and expect to adjust the tightness from time to time as the rope will eventually stretch a bit and cause your central support to feel a bit looser than you like. This is more of a cot than a charpai, however the comfort level and the cool, breezy feel is similar. As with a traditional charpai, you can top a simple cot like this with a thin mattress or a thick comforter, and provide yourself with a touch of softness and snuggly warmth.

Once you’re finished, you may find that you enjoy the process so much that you’re willing to build charpai for sale to others who want to try this type of bed. The more experience you have and the more creative you are with your builds, the more in demand your designs will be! Whatever your goal, we hope you have fun – and enjoy sleeping on this unique, comfortable bed.

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