Card Beds for Homeless People

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Introduction: Card Beds for Homeless People

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I designed this bed so that homeless people can have a more comfortable night's sleep. As it raises them off the ground and is made from a material that doesn't conduct heat or cold and is sturdy, it makes a large difference to the difficulties of being homeless.

Step 1: The Plans and Materials

The only material you need is large pieces of card that are at least two layers thick. The largest piece measures 83 x 60cm so you need to look for large boxes, which are more likely to be found in bins where businesses have large items delivered, such as furniture shops.

There are eleven pieces needed in total and you can see how they need to be measured and cut in these plans.

It has been designed so that it will be big enough for one person but also small enough to be transportable when disassembled.

It is important to get properly strong cardboard as it has been found to weaken due to re-assembly and dis-assembly. The ideal type would be 3-layered card or card that you can tell is much more rigid. The other thing is that it needs to be assembled and disassembled carefully so as not to bend the card.

To do the cutting, all you need is a sharp craft knife, a pair of scissors for back up and a large board to cut on where it doesn't matter if you scratch it (I salvaged one from a discarded kitchen).

The upper section has four pieces, the base has three plus four supports to ensure stability and long life.

Try to find a large plastic bag to put all the pieces in and a long piece of string to wrap it up and create the handle for carrying (see later).

Note the direction of the lines in the card. It is important that you position them this way so that each vertical piece will have all the card lines vertical as well, which is necessary for stability.

There is also the assembly instructions sheet that you can print out to give to the users of the beds.

Step 2: How to Cut the Pieces

It's pretty straightforward as you would imagine. Measure and mark the parts that need to be cut as shown on the plans. Cut out the whole pieces and before you cut the slots out, it's best to make the bends where they are needed.

To do this, all you need is a plank of wood that you press onto the line where the fold is needed and pull up the card carefully from one side and it should bend easily. Make sure you bend it just over 90º so that it will slot into the other pieces without having to force it (as this can damage the card).

After you've made these folds, use the craft knife to cut out the slots. It can sometimes be difficult to do this without the card being damaged a little so you first, push the blade right through the card where the slot ends (i.e. not from the edge of the card but the other end). If it doesn't cut through smoothly, use an up and down motion like you are carving. If it still doesn't go well, you can finish it off with the scissors. It is important to keep the card as undamaged as possible so that it lasts longer.

The image shows all the pieces as they are cut and folded, and how much space they take up when put into a plastic bag to keep dry.

Step 3: How to Put It Together

Assembly should take no more than 5 minutes and only has four steps.

1: Take the 'base ends' and the 'base end supports' and slot them together as shown. As they are perpendicular, this makes them unlikely to move or bend.

2: Take the 'upper ends' and first put the end that curls over in first, then the part that goes through the large slot. This order reduces the chance of damaging the card.

3: Get the 'base middle' and put it between the two ends with the small slots facing outwards. Put in the two base supports as shown in the 4th photo.

4: Slot the middle pieces into the base middle as well as the same slot on the end pieces.

That is all that is needed. As there are four upper pieces and three base pieces, they overlap which joins the whole bed together and makes it more stable.

Step 4: A Few Other Views of It

Just so you can see how it all fits together, you can see the underside, the long side and the end. See the notes for more details on what makes it work.

Another option for helping to keep the bottom edges dry is to seal them with plastic tape, like good quality packing tape. This will help it last longer if the ground is wet.

Step 5: Testing It Out

As long as the card you have used is good quality and thick enough, you can lie on it without needing to be too careful. I weigh around 65kg or 10 stone but it could support someone up to at least 50% heavier.

To make sure it lasts for the user, they should sleep under a covered area if possible to prevent it getting wet or they/ you can find large plastic bags (from shops) that can wrap around it in a similar way to a bed sheet.

You will find that there is no movement in the bed so the user can turn over easily.

During the daytime, a seat can also be formed by just making one of the end pieces.

The bed can be made in around one hour, assembles in five minutes and is completely free. I hope that you will make some for homeless people in your area. If you can't find anyone, contact a homeless support centre (it may be a soup kitchen at the church) and get some help from them. You could possibly ask the service users to help look for card and make them together at the venue.

These can also be used for refugees so ask at the refugee/ migrant centre if there's one in your town.

If any of the pieces get damaged, it's very simple to replace them and can be done in 5 minutes for free.

Please watch the video and share it. We can easily make the nights of homeless people a lot more bearable.

Step 6: Storing It in a Bag

When it's disassembled, the user will want to be able to carry it around easily.

A strong plastic bag is ideal and you can find these from something that is part of the packaging of a large item such as a mirror or a picture.

To keep it together and to have a handle for it, either use a piece of string or even better, a softer material such as a cotton strip that won't cut into the fingers as much.

To fasten it, put the bag of pieces on the ground, put the string under it with the ends of the string coming out each side. Bring it over the front and cross it over so it then goes at 90º over the other edges.

Then flip it over and tie it so that the other part of the string that you see is also trapped in the knot.

This knot is then the handle as the whole thing is too big to fit under the arm. As it is card, it weighs less than a bag of sugar.

Please watch the video to see how it's put together and also the story from two people who tried it out.

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51 Comments

After seeing the video several times I got the pieces and where they go more clear

I got lost with all these "ends" and "bases". I think the pictures misled me as the bed seems HUUUGE. I cannot imagine which piece is what (base, top base, end middle, end base,....) so not get in my mind how pieces are assembled, in special how the 3 parts are joined. Do not see the "link" piece, base or top. Sorry but my spatial comprehension is borderlining idiocy

If anyone has done this, how easy are these to transport? What kind of "packaging" did you put them in?

Hi. Pretty easy as they are designed as flat pack. You need big plastic bags or sheets to keep them dry, which can double up as protection from the rain when they're being used.

Thank you! Are you thinking of making them?

Thanks! This is awesome!

Having been one of the millions of homeless here in Orange County California, my husband and I fashioned something similar and found it quite comfortable. Though after about a week we would have to make another one. Still well worth it.

Hi. I'm glad to hear you had a go at making one. Maybe you'd need to source thicker card to make it last longer but thank for your feedback. :)

Hi. I run a games company. We have lots of spare cardboard. We're going to make some beds here but if anyone wants a big wedge of cardboard, I'm happy to send it to them. Thanks. Roger

Hi Roger. You'd best say where you are based. Thanks for offering to help. :)