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When you have a hobby or a really cool toy you often find reasons to display its awesomeness, much like the guy with the fifty-thousand dollar pickup who begs to haul a few hundred pounds of stone when you’ve already loaded half of it into your sub-compact truck. In my case, it’s building furniture. I will build almost any wood furniture at the drop of a hat because my house is now so full of it that my other half can’t find places to put more. So when a friend recently had to downgrade and give up most of her furniture, I was presented with the opportunity to build a set of bunkbeds. Of course, I took the gig.

The budget was under $100 and the design was pretty open. The two girls and their mother were all sleeping in the same bed and space was tight, so standard child mattresses sized at 75″x39″ were the order of the day. I had the size and the budget but design and materials were a little fuzzy. A trip to the local big box in conjunction with a tour of the junk pile at my parents’ place and what I had lying around the shop meant I could hit the budget, but it would be close. At least half would be hardware, which left about $50 for wood. That landed me square into 2×4 territory for timber.

The design would be a four-post, joined bunk bed with some cutout headboard accents and a ladder connected at the foot of of the bed instead of the side because of the room layout. To begin, I cut four sets of 2×4’s to get a square post of 3″x3″ once two 2×4’s were paired together.

The corners cut off on each, they were matched, glued, and clamped up.

Next came the part I was sweating a little — headboards. After a brief consultation with the Mrs., we decided that hearts and stars would be a good design for little girls of this age. So hearts and stars is is. I joined up some white wood on the ShopSmith (I highly recommend buying it since it makes projects like this much easier) and traced out the shaped from patterns I made.

There are lots of ways to cut shapes out for this; however the quickest way for me was to drill a hole in the wood and pop it on the scroll saw to remove the middle.

Once cut out, the hole would require a great deal of sanding and cleaning up — but that was much more preferable to me than taking forever to cut.

An overnight drying session had the posts glued tightly, and after a bit of filler for the seams and rough spots, a little routing needed to happen. The cutting down of the 2×4’s made the posts sort of boring and sharper than little toes and hands should deal with, so a 3/8″ round over bit knocked the corners off of everything but about 8″ near the top and close to the bottom. These areas were where the bunks would attach. Also, it looked cool.

L-bracket hardware was next to go on. I attached the long upper and lower runners first for to make a basic side. More brackets will be added later underneath the ends of each runner to help with any load.

A few more brackets and a bit of swearing later, a free-standing form was assembled and ready to begin the long process of becoming a set of bunk beds.


7 Responses to Project: Bunkbed Build — Part 1

  1. Mike says:

    I’ve occasionally seen the springy, curved ply Ikea bed slats on clearance for $2.99 a bundle. I’ve used them to make a roof rack for my VW bus in the past.

  2. The always talented Mathias Wandel has plans for a bunk bed built from construction lumber for free download.

  3. Dan says:

    Did you consider using knockdown hardware for the rails? You could leave the headboard/footboards as assemblies and if it’s taken apart and reassembled multiple time you wouldn’t have to worry about those screw holes for the rail brackets opening up and becoming loose.

    Rockler has these:

    Lowes carries these with a flat head, they look the same as the hardware that came with my son’s loft bed:
    The Hillman Group 4-Count 1/4-20 x 70mm Antique Bronze Connecting Bolts

    The Hillman Group 3/8 x 1/2 x 1/4-20″ Dowel Nut

  4. Gary Z says:

    Great article and a good thing for the girls. Took me back to the time I made bunks for my boys using cast offs from a Fox and Jacobs job site. The bunk beds were used for years and were cut down to twin beds when the boys got their own room.

  5. Keith J. says:

    When my brother needed a bunk bed for one of his kids,
    he built an ‘OP Bunk Bed’: http://www.oploftbed.com/ .
    Designed by a structural engineer, it is supposedly one
    of the sturdiest bunk bed designs out there.

  6. Flabby Boohoo says:

    I built a loft bed for my son… all caridge bolts for assembly. It was a great Saturday project.


  7. John walsh says:

    the work table leaves marks on the wood. How do I prevent it.

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