(1) price! (FREE!!!)
(2) Easy on the environment - RECYCLE!!! GREEN! GREEN! GREEN!
(3) reclaimed lumber is usually "distressed" and i think that produces a more unique and aesthetically pleasing piece.
(4) Did i mention price? the lumber i scored were all 2x6x8 and they cost at least $4 each in home depot. i reclaimed over 30 boards - that's $120!
- eye protection
- gloves (to minimize splinters)
- close-toed shoes (things fall)
- respirator (not always)
- nothing loose fitting (to reduce snags)
- screwdrivers and/or screwdriver bits for drill
- dremel or similar (optional, but very useful)
- circular saw
- compound miter saw (optional, but is much faster than a circular saw)
- drill bits - i used 1/8inch and 1/4inch primarily
- wood chisels
- block plane (optional)
- wood sander
- tape measure, yard ruler, & combination square
- several clamps - the more the merrier. i use 3 clamps that have a 4.5 inch mouth and one clamp with a 12 inch mouth, but i wish i had more, and bigger.
- wood - i used (as noted above) 2x6x8 unfinished pine (reclaimed). i know a loft bed can be made with 2x4's but in my view, that would require more wood in order to make it stable, so i would rather go with 2x6's
- - i also purchased 2x2x8's - two of them. they were construction grade (not finished grade) which makes them cheaper - only $1.52 each
- screws - i bought 2 pounds of screws (2 boxes), size 2.5 inch long (2 and 1/2 inches) phillips head (each box cost about $8). i've tried the more exotic head screws before (hex, square, torx, etc.), but the bit usually wears out too quickly and the screws rarely hold much better. yes, phillips head bits wear out just as quickly, but they're much cheaper to replace. the length is important - yes, they're more $$$, but a "2x" (two-by) board is actually 1.5 inches thick, and you need the extra 1 inch to grab the other board. i did not buy simple drywall screws - i spent a little extra $$ (about another $2 per box) to get the screws that resist rust. soft woods tend to streak nails and screws, and the rust resistant helps prevent this. final note: screws don't wiggle loose as fast as nails, so i use screws, but nails are MUCH cheaper and quicker - especially with a nail gun. if you choose to, you can substitute nails everywhere i use screws.
- bolts - if you build the loft bed in the room it will stay, then the bolts aren't necessary. BUT - even in that case, bolts are able to produce a much more sturdy frame, since they can snug 2 pieces of wood together much tighter than a screw. i bought 24 carriage bolts and 24 flat washers, lock washers and nuts to go with them. i selected the carriage bolt because its head is smooth so it won't snag the bedding, and also, the head is larger than a hex bolt, thus reducing the need for another washer (washers are required because soft wood like pine compresses too easily, and a washer spreads out the force onto a larger area of wood). the size of bolt i used was 1/4 inch in diameter and 3.5 inch length. they all cost me about $8 (bolts, nuts, flat washers, & lock washers). be frugal here - if you find other cheaper bolts that can do the job, then get those. keep in mind that sometimes what you want could be packaged differently and may be much cheaper. this happened in my case. the washers and nuts were crazy expensive if bought individually, but i found an odd little package designed for another purpose that had what i wanted for less. i bought the bolts individually.
Step 1: Find lumber
Sure, pallets are the most commonly mentioned source, but i never waste my time with pallets - too much prep work for too little wood. instead, i look for manufacturers of commercial or wholesale goods. in my case, there are several window manufacturers in my area, and the glass is rarely made onsite so it must be trucked in. glass is fragile (duh) so it must be packed in heavy wooden crates that are then discarded. go to the industrial district of your nearest large city and just drive around for a while - be a little nosy, but not too much so. if you find even the slightest hint of discarded lumber, then ask the dock foreman for it. trust me, he (she) will be thrilled to have you take it. there is an etiquette to this, so follow these rules:
(1) if you turn away pieces that aren't "perfect" then the foremen won't be willing to let you come back. don't be a prima donna - that's just rude.
(2) do NOT make a mess! totally rude!
(3) don't just take one or 2 pieces (unless that's all they have) - stock up if you can. it helps them reduce their pile and helps you have more than enough so you can be choosy at home.
(4) if you do things right, then he/she will want you to come back, so ask when and how often.
here's an uncommon source of good lumber: thrown away furniture. you won't yield a lot of wood, but most furniture is made with hard wood (well, not so much anymore, but they used to be) and if you tear it apart, you can score some beautiful woods for small jobs, like inlays or handles or...
another uncommon source: ever see a board along the highway? that may be a discarded timber from a truck driver. flatbed drivers who haul steel or heavy machinery need timber as props for their load, and soft wood like pine will just fall apart under 30 thousand pounds of steel, so they use a hardwood like oak. if one edge splinters then it isn't load worthy anymore, but there's still 5 feet of oak for you to use.