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Making coolest self-raising loft bed for kid - please help with hardware! Answered

Hi everybody.  I am going to make a loft bed that will raise automatically when my kid gets out of it.  What I'd like to do (please see attached files) is suspend the bed via pulleys and cables attached to one weight.  The weight would be just a pound or two (trimmable, of course) more than the frame, mattress, bedding, etc. so it will raise itself until the weight hits a stop leaving the bed a few inches from the ceiling.  If necessary some friction could be used to keep the speed reasonable.  At night it should pull down quite easily, and I believe that with this layout, it should come down evenly regardless of where it is being pulled.
  I had wanted this to "float", but since it is going to be in a corner anyways, I may run a couple tracks down the wall with hardware to guide the bed and keep it from swinging.

The big question I have is how to fasten this to the ceiling.  It is drywall with joists above.  Offhand I'm guessing the bed will be say 110 pounds, so about 225 pounds hanging from the ceiling with the bed empty.  I'd like to have an extra, what, 500 pounds wiggle room?  Worst case scenario, two 150 pound people sitting on the end of the bed...  I mean I can explain that this is a one person only contraption, but I REALLY don't want it coming down regardless of what gets thrown at this thing.

Any ideas, criticisms, feedback, will be so greatly appreciated.  I think this could be really awesome, and I know it will make my son flip out!  He's got a very small room, and this will free up so much space.

Thanks again.  John



6 years ago

Hi John. Did you manage to finish your project?
I'm doing research on raised bed for my bedroom, so that I can fit desk etc. underneath during the day. It would potentially very helpful if you shared your results.


Reply 6 years ago

tomekk - sorry for the late response. I did not end up doing this; the grandparents bought him a pretty nice bed. When I was in college we built our loft with 4x4 uprights, 2x6s across the top at the head and foot of the beds, and cables in an X along the walls between the 4x4s. Then we took our frames - oh yeah, I forgot, we had those steel frames with the springs running across them, if we had had to make frames out of plywood they probably would have been to heavy for the PUNCH LINE to this long story.
  Anyway, we bolted the frames to 2x10 headers and footers. Then we used one bolt at each end (just two per bed) to attach the bed to the 4x4s and hung the other end of the headers and footers with chains. We used chain that was thicker than it really needed to be just because it looked cooler :-)

    Okay, so to summarize thus far, if you were looking at this contraption from the head or foot of the beds it would look on the left bed like an F but the top of the F would extend across to a backwards F (the bed on the right). The other horizontal on the Fs would be the headboards, and the ends of them would be held up by chain. So the cool part was we also attached hooks to the ceiling crossbar.
   In the morning when we got up we tilted our beds up about 70 degrees and hooked the chain to the crossbar. the pillows, sheets, and mattress just smooshed a little against the wall keeping everything in place and our beds took up almost no space at all during the day. We had a desk under one side and a couch and minifridge under the other.

   The whole thing worked great and was very sturdy - each bed could hold two people very easily when the occasion called for it (this WAS college after all). I would love to make an instructable about it if we had taken a few pictures, but we weren't smart enough to document the process...


6 years ago

have you seen this??

I think it has the stability you are looking for. my own experience with pullies (pulleys?) is that actually friction on the rope needs to be taken into account as well as braking.

I think that" 6 lbs to 3 ft" is called mechanical advantage.

We really wanted to build one of these for our daughter's small bedroom but ended up with a combination bomb shelter-loft bed. (earthquake country) the space was an L shape with a squarish play space, very cool off the ground, and a bed space on the L side with the ladder at the place where they met. it was like a bomb shelter because our builder friend made it so heavy duty and earthquake proof with 4x4 everywhere. we dismantled it eventually and are still using up the 4x4 scraps. use screws. have fun ,s


7 years ago

Any thoughts on building a frame instead of attaching it to the cieling. Don't get me wrong, it's like the opening 5 minutes of "an American in Paris" the way you have it here, but you may want to move it from time to time.
Some things to keep your child safe
- the friction brake is a must, though launching crap at the ceiling with their bed-a-pult may make your kids the coolest in the neighbourhood.
- A friction brake might be mimicked (and an educational opportunity provided) with a lighter weight and a really exciting geared up pulley system. Man, now I want one.
- Legs on the bottom of the bed, or on the ground for the bed to rest on so that the bed is somewhat stationary at night.
- in case the weight gets caught up on just one side, you could have the farthest corners of the bed attached to different sides of the weight, so that if the, e.g., right side of the weight gets caught up it won't just flip the bed.
- strap down the mattress. Strap it down.
- rails on the wall for the bed to track down, like for hanging closet doors but more rigidly set in place would, I feel, help immensely.

I like things to get more complicated, so maybe I should just shut up now.


Reply 7 years ago

Yikes!!! I can't believe I didn't realize the big flaw with my layout! I was all excited about the fact that if you pulled the bed down from one end it would stay level as it lowered; I completely failed to realize that it has no side to side stability! But if I cross the cables that run to the foot of the bed, I should have no pitch OR roll, correct?
Also, I really like the idea of doubling the pulleys (I'm sure there's a better term for this) to get a 2 : 1 ratio. I could have 6' of weight movement for 3' of bed movement and use half the weight thereby lightening the load on the ceiling somewhat.
The frame is like a last resort. As in, I've got 2 kids, and if the ceiling fails on the first one, I'll go ahead and make the darn frame for the second one...
I need to find out if "an american in paris" streams on netflix so I can see what you're talking about.
I'm still hoping to avoid the legs though. If I use the tracks along the wall, with good stops and guides welded to the frame, I think that side should be fine. I suppose I could put a leg below the other corner of the bed that's next to the wall (up by the weights) but I really want the corner of the bed that sticks out into the room to just "float". Maybe support on three sides is enough?
Again, thanks everyone for your input. I am getting pretty excited about this project!


7 years ago

Don't rely on the ceiling joist as they are. You will need to get up into the ceiling and reenforce the joist. Wherever possible put the mounts between joists to help spread the load. Get yourself a couple of good sized header beams to span across the top of the joists. Use some L brackets to secure the beam to the joist. Then you can use nice large lag bolts to secure the rigging to the beams.

How about keeping things a bit simpler. Don't relying on the rigging and counter weight stop to support the weight of people while the bed is down. Put some feet on the bed frame so the bed can sit fully on the ground. This way you don't have to worry so much about the load being placed on the ceiling or how much tension is on the cables. Ceiling joist are not meant to hold allot of weight unless there is a second floor above. The ceiling may only be held up by 2x4s. Either way you go have the mounting points span at least 2 joist to spread the load.


Reply 7 years ago

Thanks for the input. I really like the idea of laying headers across the top of the joists (I had been thinking of mounting boards between the joists, on top will be much simpler and spread the weight more).
As for the legs, I see the tremendous advantage to be had there. I was planning on only letting the bed come down a few feet and having a desk under it, so this would require some rethinking.
I had mentioned running track [_] like this down the long side near the pillow and foot area with a guide on the bed riding in it. I may be able to use some good stops in there to take 1/2 the weight. What do y'all think?


Reply 7 years ago

Stops on the track would be a great idea. You may want to mount a 1x6 along the studs and mount the track on there. Or mount a full sheet of 1/4" to 1/2" ply to the wall to help spread the load across multiple studs. Better to over engineer it then under. Just be sure the guide wheels or bar you use in the track will be durable enough to handle the strain that will be leveraged on them. As well as having a strong enough track that the bed won't be able to rip out of.

Between the in track stops and a stop built into the highest elevation of the counter weight the bed should stay in place without a problem.