Introduction: The Best Lofted Bed There Is
I am an artist living in San Francisco. When I moved here almost two years ago, I was worried about so many things that come with the San Francisco city life - affording rent, parking tickets, laundry, June gloom, dodging actual shit, etc. Above all, I was concerned about my artistic practice. I moved into a 1 bedroom apartment with two other girls and could not afford more rent for a seperate space to make art. Thus! I designed and built (with the help of my loving and handy father) a lofted bed that gave me enough room to paint and sew underneath and adds zero damage to my rented apartment. This is a detailed plan for a standard full size bed and is safe (because of my father) and a great solution for tenants struggling for space with crazy expensive rent.
This project was so successful that my roommate was able to used the same plans, making a few adjustments and improvements, and we now in addition to an art studio, we have a living room! FYI you can tell the difference between the two lofts because she took the extra step to stain the wood to match the aesthetic of her room.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Some things to think about when buying materials...
1. Bring all pdf docs printed with you to the hardware store. It will help to get a visualization for what all this wood is for. (See next step)
2. Check lumber to make sure wood is not bowed or too heavy/wet.
3. Keep receipt! You may decide to make edits or changes and end up with extra wood, bolts, or washers. You can always return them. I think all together the materials cost around $200.
Some other things to think about...
1. This loft is heavy! You will probably need to build it, take it apart, and reassemble it in your desired location.
2. This loft is safe! Trust me. I have a 240lb ex-boyfriend. Loft still stands.
3. A lot of this project could use an extra pair of hands, maybe even two.
Step 2: Cutting the Parts
READ THROUGH ALL STEPS BEFORE CUTTING!
Using a chop saw you can cut all 2x4s, 2x6s, and 2x8s.
NOTE: For pieces that have extra wood, I suggest chopping pieces a little fat. You can always chop more! For pieces that DO NOT have extra wood, be careful to make very accurate measurements.
NOTE: The length of your shelf determines how high or low it will be. I suggest waiting till this step to cut the shelves to size.
NOTE: 1x4 railings are made from 2x4s cut in half and included in supply list.
Step 3: Making the Legs and Ladder
The legs are made by joining a 2x4 and 2x6 with 4" lag bolts.
Making the legs...
1. Mark and drill clearing holes through 2x6s using 5/16th drill bit. Measure all from top to bottom.
NOTE: Every time you are joining two pieces of wood with a lag bolt -- drill clearing holes using 5/16th drill bit through first piece of wood and pilot holes using 3/16th drill bit into second piece of wood. The lag bolt should not catch on first piece of wood.
NOTE: Just to be clear, a 2x4 is actually a 1.5x3.5. So! In order for your lag bolt to be centered through the 2x4, measure clearing holes 3/4" from the edge of the 2x6.
2. Match up 2x6s with 2x4s and use clearing holes to mark pilot holes on 2x4s. You can either use a pencil or tap the 2x4 with your drill. Be careful! You are not making four identical parts -- two pairs.
3. Drill pilot holes and then lag bolts. Don't forget washers!
Making the ladder...now or later...
NOTE: Depending on which you prefer, you can make the ladder now or after the loft is standing. It might be helpful to see the loft standing just in case you feel the steps should be placed differently.
4. Using a chop saw make the ladder pieces -- cut at 45 degree angles.
5. Decide which leg you would like your ladder. Again, not all legs are the same.
NOTE: The drawing is different from the photos, so you have both examples depending on which you choose.
6. Using wood glue and clamps glue each ladder step together. This will help make sure the pieces don't move on you when you attach them with lag bolts.
7. Once pieces are dry, start with the 5" bolt and then the 4" bolts to attach to leg.
NOTE: The 5" bolt should go through the 5.5" piece first to ensure lag bolts don't collide. See drawing!
Step 4: Adding the Frame to the Legs
A lot of this project is done best with at least one helper, but this part I think needs three people. There are a lot of heavy parts to hold up and align.
1. First you can drill clearing holes through your two 80" 2x8s. Make sure holes are 2.5" from the end and 2" from the top and bottom.
2. Mark on the inside of each leg 58" from the bottom, this will be the bottom edge of the 2x8, which is your clearance under the bed.
3. Lay two matching legs with the 2x8 between on a level ground. Before drilling pilot holes, make sure everything is square, then drill 3" lag bolts.
NOTE: Label all pieces. When you take the loft apart to reassemble all the pieces will come apart except the legs and ladder. You are sure to run into problems if you can't remember exactly which pieces go where. You can use whatever labeling system makes sense to you. For example, I gave each leg a different letter, A B C D. This letter matches the inside of the leg with the corresponding 2x8. Make sure you put labels where they will not be seen when loft is complete.
4. Similarly, drill clearing holes through your 67" 2x8s. Make sure holes are 1" from the end and 2" from the top and bottom.
5. Now the legs need to be standing up. You may need some help! Make sure everything is square and level, drill pilot holes, and join with 3" lag bolts.
6. For extra strength, drill the 6" lag bolt from the outside. The clearing hole should be 3" and level with the existing bolt on leg.
Step 5: Adding Frame Cross Beams and Plywood
Adding the frame cross beams...
1. First measure and mark where all u hangers attach. Measurements are for the center of each u hanger.
NOTE: Measure from the same end for both sides.
2. Attach all u hangers at the bottom of the 80" 2x8.
3. If you cut the frame beams a bit fat, they probably won't fit. This is good! You want them to be snug. Slowly chop one beam at a time till each one fits tightly into the u hangers. Label each cross beam to it's matching u hanger.
Cutting the plywood...
4. Using a table or circular saw cut plywood into 3 pieces and put into place. You may need to go back and trim pieces down so they fit flat and do not overlap.
Adding the trim...
5. Using a table or band saw cut the 2x4 into trim, keeping the curved edge or simply sanding a curved edge .
6. Cut trim into pieces using chop saw. Again, cut them a little fat so you can slowly trim them to fit snug between 2x4s and along head/foot edge.
7. Nail trim to the 2x8 using 1.5 inch finish nails.
Step 6: Add Diagonal Bracings and Shelves
Adding diagonal bracings...
1. Chop the 45 degree bracings.
NOTE: It does not matter too much the length of this piece, but around 46" looks nice and supports enough.
2. Join the bottom end of the bracings to inside of legs with 3" lag bolts, 2 each.
3. Drilling the top end of the bracings is a bit tricky. You will need to drill a larger hole so the washer can fit flush with the head of the bolt. I drilled the clearing hole first, then used a speedbor bit to make the larger hole to accommodate the washer.
4. Join the bracings the same as the 45 degree bracings.
NOTE: The 30/60 bracings do not need to be 30/60. Depending on if you want more shelf space or more space to enter under your loft you may choose different angles for these bracings. Join the bracings the same as the 45 degree bracings.
Adding the shelves...
5. Decide at what height you would like your shelves and cut end of 2x6 and the same angle as your bracing.
NOTE: You will also need to cut out a portion of the 2x6 to accommodate the bracing.
6. Use 6" bolts to join shelves to bracings and 4" lag bolts to join shelves to leg (from outside of leg).
Step 7: Adding the Railing...
1. Using a band saw cut the 2x4s in half to make the rails. If you don't have a band saw you could buy 1x4 pine instead.
2. Attach mid-rail post to frame with two 3" lag bolts.
3. Attach railings with 2" lag bolts from the inside.
Later I added a shelf easily using L brackets. I hope you find this to be helpful and a solution to a small space!