Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Raise The Roof! - Building My Own Loft Bed

I've been wanting to build a loft bed for a while.  Not only would it maximize floor space, but it would also offer me the opportunity to create my dream "computer lab" underneath similar to the fortress I had built years ago, except bigger.  I mean, look at all this wasted real estate under the original bed frame!
Hiding stuff under the bed is a poor excuse for organization.
My opportunity finally arrived when they were going to throw out 2 massive 8-foot 4x4 beams at work.  I quickly sprang to action dragging them home with my new bicycle trailer (emphasis on dragging).  This trailer isn't nearly as large or strong as my original one, but nonetheless got the job done.
Details on new trailer build coming soon
The 8-foot beams barely fit inside my room, with only an inch of clearance between the ceiling.  Other scraps of wood gradually piled up until I had enough to start building.
I also gained quite a bit of usable material from taking apart the original "box spring", which was actually just a wood lattice lined with cardboard and fabric (not shown here).  Interesting to note, my bed was rather squeaky prior to this, I found the source of the noise to be the cardboard rubbing against the wood whenever weight was applied to the mattress.
My room looked like absolute chaos during a lot of this project.
Time to prepare the materials.  Firstly, I wanted to reinforce one of the beams that would become one of the 4 legs.  This 2x4 was badly split on the end, so I cut it clean on the end, and bolted a good plank to make a solid foot.  I made explicit use of 1/4" lag screws of various lengths throughout this project using a 3/16" pilot drill.
Then the hard and painstaking role of taking apart a metal bed frame I found.  By now I'm quite used to this, as I've utilized metal bed frames on other projects such as the fortress, hand cranked air blower, bicycle trailer, and even the cooking pot stand.
Adding the upgraded 2x4 beam and angle iron to the materials pile.  By this point I was ready to build the loft bed and get this freaking pile of wood out of the way!
At last, all the materials laid out.  Bearing in mind, not all of these went into the final build.  Many of the shorter pieces couldn't be used because, well, they were too short.
I noticed something troubling about the original bed frame pieces.  The cross-section looked precariously weak.  Was this just held together with glue?  How in the world was it supporting all that weight?  To avoid further paranoia, I decided to reinforce it a little better.
There we go, adding 2 brackets to each piece.  Now I can sleep in peace at night. (literally)
Now the 8-foot beams.  I realized right away that I would not need the entire 8 feet.  To avoid hitting the ceiling by mistake, make the building process easier, and to add a little bit of class, I decided to cut off 18" or so from the tops of the beams.  Not having a power saw readily available, I turned to the next greatest idea: drill a bunch of 1/2" holes going both directions so there would be far less material to saw through.
This went so successful I could hardly believe it.  It took literally 1 minute to saw through this entire cross section once the holes were drilled!  Now bearing in mind the disadvantage of the drill bit getting stuck and trying the rip the drill out of my hand several times when drilling the cross holes, I still think it was at least 10x easier than sawing through the whole beam.
Now to add some reinforcing planks to the beams.  First drilling the pilot and clearance holes for the lag screws.
Then screwing on the planks.
The first half of the bed assembled.
The angle iron wasn't long enough to make the diagonal reinforcement, so I bolted 2 of the pieces together.  I used 2 bolts on each face just to be extra certain it wouldn't bend.
Then putting together the other side.  Amazingly, I was able to do this all myself without the thing falling on me. 
Lastly, adding more diagonal supports and the top slats.  The original bed frame had only 3 top slats (probably because it was implied you were using the box spring which adequately distributed the weight to the sides), so I added 3 more, and later, another few more.
Due to the way I cut the 4X4 beams, it left them with a nice castle-wall pattern like a rook from chess.  I made sure to file these smooth so to not get stabbed.
Then I disassembled the entire thing and brought the pieces inside.  Here's the entirety of the screws I had to put back in:
Reassembling inside.
Here are the extra slats I added.  I realized I didn't even have to screw these down since they can't go anywhere.  I also later inserted a layer of cardboard between the mattress and the wood to distribute weight better, and protect the mattress from wood splinters.
All done!  I'm not going to lie, this thing is really cool.  It did take some getting used to sleeping that close to the ceiling, since when getting up, I'd have the tendency to lift the covers off abruptly forgetting the low clearance, and hitting the ceiling, knocking off some of the acoustic insulation.
Next thing to do is build the computer lab workstation, add some cardboard walls, and lighting, and it will be the fortress pt. 2!

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