Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Building a Bed

I live in a relatively small apartment in a basement. I am not complaining and I actually like my apartment a fair bit.  However, space is sometimes a concern. Still, it is not as much of a concern here as our first apartment.

Our first apartment was in a house that was built sometime in the 1890s. It was one level and that level was divided into 4 apartments.  Our apartment was roughly 365 sq feet and heated by a gas heater in the corner of the bedroom. The heater did a fantastic job of heating the top quarter of the apartment (we had very tall ceilings). We had single pane windows and a poor seal on the door.  I found myself baking a lot to keep the apartment warm.

Sometime in January, I decided I just couldn't take it anymore.  We had no space and I was always cold. So, we came up with a great solution: a loft bed. Since we didn't have a ton of money to spend and queen size loft beds are not exactly really easy to come by, we arrived at the decision to build one. We attempted to design one, but I was not very sure of what we were doing, and as neither Patrick nor I had ever built furniture before, I was uncomfortable with our first piece being something that put us 6 feet in the air while we were sleeping. Thus, I found a website that sold plans here and we purchased them for $10.

The only thing we really did differently was that we built it using cheaper lumber, which meant more sanding, and we didn't screw in the slats, which made it easier to take apart. We built the thing over the Saturday and Monday of Martin Luther King weekend. We used leftover plywood to build a desk for me and some shelves (Patrick already had a desk, which we placed under the loft bed as well. A while later, we decided to stain it.  Because the room the loft bed was in was so small, it is a bit difficult to see what is a picture of it.  This a picture of my desk and the shelves.  We used Christmas lights for extra light, which can be seen on the ceiling.

When I was 6 months pregnant (and having a rather rough time getting up the ladder) we moved to our current apartment and left the loft bed behind for Patrick's sister to use (she and her husband moved in when we moved out). Our bed was back just on a box spring.

Figure 1
In October, I had a baby shower and got 600 diapers (which we just finished using a week ago. Diapers are a wonderful gift). I decided we needed more storage again. Since the ceilings were shorter (and I was still pregnant), a loft bed was no longer a good option.  We also had a box spring, which we had just tipped up against the wall with the loft bed (and I had used it as a bulletin board), that I decided to incorporate into the new bed.  Because Patrick was in school and I was not, I designed this one by myself. The height was decided based on the height of a box of diapers, but you could really make it any height (within reason) by just adding or subtracting the same amount from all the 4 x 4 pieces needed (Table 1). My original plans are in Figure 1 as seen from the side of the bed.
Table 1

I figured out everything for the bed would cost me roughly $30. I got help from a friend, Celeste, to go get the boards and that Saturday, we built it.

I must note at this point that I actually purchased about 7 feet of extra 2 x 4. This was because Patrick told me that my design would not be stable and would need a lot of extra cross braces.  Suffice to say, I was right and he was less right.  We built it almost exactly like the picture.

Something that will help with understanding the instructions for building anything with 2 x 4s is that a 2 x 4 (and a 2 x 2, 4 x 4, and any other board measured like this) is not actually 2" by 4".  It was 2" x 4" and then approximately 1/4" is cut off of each side as it is processed, so a 2 x 4 is actually 1 1/2" x 3 1/2" and so on.

Figure 2
After cutting everything to length and doing plenty of sanding, we glued and screwed  (with screws every 6" or so) each of the 53" 2 x 2  onto a 5' 2 x 4.  This was the one thing we did differently than the original plan.  Patrick wanted to make it more stable by putting the 2 x 2 up from the bottom of the 2 x 4 three quarters of an inch, thus allowing more space to screw the 2 x 4 into the legs. The picture (Figure 2) shows it lined up along the bottom. I don't know if it would have worked that way or not. In any case, if you don't line it up with the bottom, you need to make sure you measure it level and the same on all the pieces you attach 2 x 2s to. The 2 x 2 should be centered lengthwise. A 4 x 4 should fit on either side of the 2 x 2 without hanging off the edge, but there should also not be a gap between the two. In other words  there should be roughly 3 1/2"  between the edge of the 2 x 2 to the edge of the 2 x 4.  We cut the 2 x 2s a bit long and then trimmed the extra to get a tight fit.

 Next, the 4 shorter 2 x 2s were glued and screwed to the 83" 2 x 4s (Figure 3). Each was placed far enough from the edge to allow a 4 x 4 and a 2 x 4 (the short way) to sit tightly next to it and not hang off the edge (roughly 5" from the edge of the 2 x 2 to the edge of the 2 x 4). There was a space in between the 2 x 2s  big enough for a 2 x 4 to sit the longer way (roughly 3 1/2").
Figure 3
Figure 4

 Once this was done, we screwed the longer four 4 x 4s into the spaces we left at the end of each 5' 2 x 4 (Figure 4). The top of the 4 x 4 is even with the top of the 2 x 2 so that the box spring can sit on it evenly.
Figure 5

We used 3 screws (Figure 5) on this side in an L shape in order to allow us to screw in the other side with another 3 screws without the screws potentially hitting one another.

Figure 6

We then screwed the 83" 2 x 4s into the 4 x 4 with 3 more screws and the end of the 2 x 4s with 2 screws to make a rectangular frame (Figure 6).

The remaining 5' 2 x 4 was put across the middle in the space left between 2 x 2s and screwed in with 2 screws.  The shorter leg was then centered on this 5' 2 x 4 and screwed in from the top of the 2 x 4 with 4 screws to make it like Figure 1.

So far, the bed is very sturdy and it has been several months.  It would be very easy to change the measurements on this bed to fit different mattresses.  If you did a twin, you probably wouldn't need the center beam at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for the comment! If you wish to contact me directly, you can email me at bethslemonade@gmail.com.