Monday, February 21, 2011

DIY loft bed

Dream home workshop. DIY geek's bed and desk.
I think, it's a common public opinion, that most geeks, instead of going to bar to get some beer and pick up hot chicks, are spending spare time at home watching p working in their own home mechanical workshop, electronic lab, musical studio, you name it.
And this is absolutely correct. Home workshop is a only place where dreams and desires of creative person come true. That's why one could stay there 24/7 tinkering with stuff, enjoying freedom in creativity and power of imagination or ... just playing computer games;-)

Mad scientist's lab in olden days.

Designing and building perfect workshop may take long time and significant efforts but learning from other people's experience usually sparks your imagination and finally saves you time and money.
In this and in following posts I'm going to share some tips and ideas that I've implemented while I was building my home workshop.

I've got inspiration to build this project when I was reading instructables article about making loft bed. Yea,  it's was brilliant idea to combine bed and workbench/desk and wisely reuse precious and limited space in my overloaded with stuff and messy lab.

My old bed was just terrible chunk of obsolete furniture that's occupied so much space but can be used only for six hours every day, besides my Wall-e was always having hard time getting his favorite ball from under bed if it was accidentally dropped there.

Well, decision is made. For my new home workshop I'm going to make dream workbench/desk with attached sleeping compartment;-)

Project requires minimum set of hand tools,  measuring tape, cordless drill, c-clamps and common materials and hardware from Home depot or local construction supplier. At Home depot all lumber and plywood can be cut to custom size by request.

List of materials I've used for this project. All boards are standard 8' length.

- 8 2x6; 
- 9 2x4; 
- 4 2x3; 
- 3 sheets of 3/4 plywood, dimensions 2' x 4';
- 3 5/8 melamine particle boards, dimensions 2' x 4'; 
- pack of 4" long 5/16 carriage bolts, nuts and washers;
- pack of 2 1/2" wood screws. 

Lumber for project.

I've designed very simple loft bed that is capable to accommodate standard mattress with dimensions 39" x 75".

Basically loft bed consists of three identical rectangular frames attached to posts.   
Dimensions of each frame are 39 1/2" x 75 1/2" and it's consists of four pieces of 2x4: two boards 72 1/2" long and two boards 39 1/2" long.

To build loft bed compatible with different mattress size you should recalculate dimensions accordingly.
Distance from floor to the top level of bed frame is 60" and for desk frame distance is 28". 
Bottom frame can be at floor level or few inches above it.

Loft bed for pure geek. Beta release. ;-)

Each posts is made from two 2x6 boards 72" long. Boards are bundled together to form L-shape and fastened with wood screws. To make assembling easier and avoid wood splitting I've drilled 3/32 pilot holes for every wood screw. 
To avoid confusion and mistakes during assembling I suggest to label posts (front-left, front-right, back-left,  back-right) and all frame boards. 

After all posts has been assembled next step is marking and drilling holes for carriage bolts. It's easier to do if posts are laying on the floor.  

Start with two posts of one side (left or right):   
- get left-front and left-back posts and place them on the floor;
- mark position for bed and desk frame  (in my case distance 60" and 28" from floor end of post).
- clamp short (39 1/5") frame pieces to posts, guiding by level marks;
- at first drill pilot hole of small diameter through frame board and side of post; 
- drill final hole of proper diameter;
- mark frame boards, unclamp them and put aside for assembling stage. 

The same algorithm should be implemented for posts of other side.
Next step is the to perform the same procedure but using long (75 1/2") frame boards and holes should be drilled in front and back sides of posts. When clamping long board to post, 1 1/2" spacer should be inserted between end of board and inner side of post.  

Material is ready. Let's begin assembling. 

In next stage we are going to play witch oversized constructor set, so put your wrench into tool belt and pack your pockets with nuts and bolts;-)  
If you don't have helper to hold posts while you are attaching boards, make temporary supports for posts by clamping spare pieces of 2x4 to posts. 

To make temporary support clamp piece of lumber to post.

With some tricks assembling can be done by one person.

Install top and bottom frames but before tightening nuts check geometry of object with big carpenter's level.
Although we are not building the Great Pyramid but you may want to adjust it if shape is not perfect. In my case, I've found that floor is slopped so I had to install 1/2" spacers under posts to reduce margin of error to acceptable level.  After adjustment has finished, install desk frame and tight all nuts.      

Object is getting its shape.

Optional addition to the design. Blocks of 2x4 are fastened under frame's corners to serve as extra support. Anyway I had some leftover pieces of lumber;-)   

Corner's design. Note additional support block. 

Well, main part is done. As middle support beams I used 2x3 boards 36 1/2" long: 3 boards for desk frame and 2 boards for bed frame. Boards are evenly spaced and fastened with two wood screws on each side.  

Structural framing is done.

As top material for desk I've used 5/8 melamine particle board. It's possible to buy one big piece of custom cut board but it would be a problem to handle it around.
From the beginning this project was meant to be portable and easy adjustable so I've bought 3 standard 2' x 4' sheets and got them trimmed to length 39 1/2". Middle support beams of desk frame are installed 2' apart so  every top board is supported from its four sides.
Boards are fastened to frame with wood screws. Hard material of particle board requires drilling of 3/32" pilot holes and countersinking.
Overall length of 3 2' boards is 3" shorter than size of frame but I'm going to use this gap to feed power cables to all desk equipment.     
Desk is finished. Lot of room for my equipment.

Top surface of bed is made from 3/4" plywood. Again I've used 3 standard 2 x 4' sheets trimmed  to length 39 1/2". Boards are fastened to frame with wood screws.
As ladder rungs I've used 2x3 boards 42 1/2" long. Boards are spaced 15" apart and fastened to posts with wood screws.

Object is completed. Desk is fantastic, eh?

Project is completed. It's a heavy and solid desk with optional bed but it can be easily disassembled and moved by one person. And it's a real green and eco-friendly project.

And one final tip. Instead of getting bulky and squeaky mattress I've found more practical solution. I've bought two cheap sleeping bags (7$ each on sale)  and one of them serves as a mattress and another as a blanket;-)


  1. Very cool. Appears to be my room. But you're more organizated than me hehehe.

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  3. I've bought two cheap sleeping bags (7$ each on sale) and one of them serves as a mattress and another as a blanket;-)

  4. wow...your design is very similar to mine - the L shaped legs on the corners made from 2x's - that's pretty cool. My built post is here:

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