Bunk Beds

It's been over a month since I finished the frame, and probably two weeks since we bought the mattress, but only now am I getting around to posting pictures.

Here is the secret tobunk8.jpg the whole design; remove 2x2x6 out of the top corner of a 4×4, and fasten 1×6 rails with 1/4" bolts and tee nuts. Exactly the same idea as the original (full-size) bed, except the way I did it then was to saw the entire 2×2 corner out of the 4×4, cut it shorter, and glue it back in (yielding some ugly edges because of the width of the saw-blade. This time I was able to cut as deep as my rotary tool would go (which was not 2"), wedge&splinter the block out with a screwdriver, and clean up with a chisel (not so clean, but it's hidden, so it's OK). You can also see the end of the inner rail, supporting the last slat (or is it the first?). Here we see bunk1.jpgthe partly-assembled pieces in the room (the doorway was not big enough to assemble everything in the garage). The bolts are not yet tightened down, and the short rails and center support are standing on the floor.

I initially planned to make the top bunk the same length as the bottom, replacing the back posts with taller shared posts, and cutting a hole for the lower rails to pass through the other posts. It turned out to be beyond my skill and toolset, but the post supporting the back corner of the bunk bears some ugly scars (below the lower bunk) attesting to my attempts! I turned my failure into a straddling design, which forced the top bunk to be longer than a twin mattress; the extra 4" at the head will be room for storage; small consolation for #1 when he realizes the privacy implications of having #2 move into his room.

So next we see one and then both of the side rails are placed in a free-standing straddle over the existing bed. (You can see it's a little torqued because of warp in the 1×6 rails.) Then the head and foot rails are placed, everything squared up, and the bolts are tightened, and the center-support rail is bolt-screwed in. The whole structure is made more rigid by screwing the lower rails into all four bunk posts. That thing doesn't move, baby!


Finally, all of the slats are screwed onto the center support (and they rest on inner rails on either side).The next, and crucial step is, you wait two weeks to buy a mattress, just to make your kid really want it! Only when the mattress is in custody do you attach the ladder, otherwise there will be no end of trouble with climbing up and playing on the slats! Here is a detail of the construction of the ladder, which (if I do say so myself) was very well crafted. The rungs have a 1/4" roundover for comfortable barefoot climbing, but are left square on the ends of the backs. The slots in the 2×3 ladder rails were formed by making two precision cuts with a circular saw, and about a dozen unprecision cuts in between. Then it was a cinch for #1 to knock the flakes out with a hammer, and for me to clean up the slot with a chisel. In the end, a perfect fit! (Although I didn't have enough faith to just glue the rungs in; there is also one screw through the back of the ladder for each side of each rung.)


Final verdict is mixed. #1 is still alone in the room for another month or two while he works with his new alarm (and still sleeping on the bottom bunk so he doesn't kill himself trying to get out of bed in the middle of the night). Other than sleeping, I don't think he spends much time in the top bunk, because it's a lot warmer up there near the ceiling. But I think in the end, he will enjoy having his own private hideaway up there.


10 Responses

  1. This is my favorite pic, simply for its cute anonymity …

    Is there a way to incorporate pics straight into a post? Your how-to would be a bit easier to follow that way.

    It’d be fun to come back to this post and follow your directions, when Karyn and I eventually get to that stage. Our kids would have matching bunkbeds.

  2. Yes, pics can be directly in a post (or thumbnails in a post, linked to full pics, as here and here), but this time I thought there would be too many pics that would make the text unreadable. I don't think it's possible to have the pictures nicely anchored into paragraphs that flow around them, a la Framemaker.

    And unfortunately it's not really very good as a how-to, since it only illustrates the final assembly. But if you ever want to make some rustic, sturdy beds, let me know, and I can give you some much better direct guidance! Or just show the one detail pic to Gary, and I'm sure he'll know exactly how to make it better than I could ever figure out!

    And speaking of cute anonymity, T had the great idea of pasting Calvin & Luther's heads over #1 and #2 in the one picture of the Calvinist Castle, but I haven't had the time or energy.  I know a mom that's a whiz at that kind of thing though… 

  3. There, how's that? "Alignment Right" did a decent job of floating the first two pictures, since they were sparser, but it couldn't handle 3 per paragraph, so I just grouped the thumbnails on paragraphs of their own

  4. Good solution — looks clean.

  5. […] Now that we’re home, we’ve taken the opportunity of the camping experience to continue to let #1 and #2 sleep together in the bunk beds now. #1 is still using the alarm, but setting it off very infrequently (actually most often when he’s awake, getting ready for bed, which is pretty gross). #2 still has not successfully been able to take a nap in his bunk, but that just makes him all the more tired and ready for bed, so I guess it’s working out. […]

  6. I have nothing to add here, but I just wanted to see you run from post to post (sort of like a suicide drill in basketball. :-)

  7. Any new projects in the works?

  8. There was a long while that I haven’t had time to do anything, but last month I made a frame. It’s all together, and the mat, plexiglass, and backing are all cut, but the frame needs to be polyurethaned, then the whole thing can be assembled and hung.

  9. Just bought a weed-eater from Walmart. Last night I took it out of the box and stared at it. Tomorrow I will fill it with the requisite gasoline/oil mixture and fire it up. Home ownership is a new world…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: