Portable Bunk-bed

Introduction: Portable Bunk-bed

This product has been dreamed up to help those without a place to sleep, other than the ground, and are often relocating. Specifically this bed was designed with the people of the Metro Manila slums in Manila, Philippines. They often have to sleep on the crowded, filthy, and trash covered streets while living with the extremely high mosquito population. This bed features many hinges, mosquito netting, rope, and wood. The stability does need some work before it is ready for sleeping so keep that in mind while building.

The product here is a half scale prototype so some of the actual materials were not used.

What you will need throughout:

Bold for full scale product normal used in half scale prototype Italics for both

  • Wood: Frame-
    • Ceder; 36' 1x3 in 3' pieces | pine or fir; 18' 2x3 in 1.5' pieces
  • Wood: Legs-
    • Ceder; 16' 2x2: half in 1' pieces half in 2' pices | pine or fir; 8' 2x2: half in 6" pieces half in 1' pieces
  • Rope- Braided nylon/polyester | Braided nylon or marine rope
    • 128' | 64' make sure to have extra to leave room for error.
    • 8'make sure to have extra to leave room for error.
  • Eyelet Screws- ___"
    • N/A | 44
  • Plastic- A tough plastic made for long term outdoor use.
    • For this I used the thicker, shorter side of a rain gutter cut in 1' sections.
  • Hinges- 16 1-1/2" butt hinges
  • Screws-8 screws long enough to connect wood|For hinges-the screws that came with the hinges/short screws
    • 2" screws | 4" screws
  • Mosquito netting- Purchased off of walmart.com Here
    • Use full size | Cut to fit


  • Drill
  • 5/8 spade drill bit
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • 2.4 drill bit
  • Phillips head drill bits to fit your screws
  • Pliers
  • masking/painting tape {alternative: hot glue and gun}

Step 1: Step 1: the Frames

Originally to determine the best wood for the full scale product we created a humidity tank. As hoped ceder came out on top after about a week in the tank.

For the prototype we used pine wood.

First, take your pieces of 1.5' (or3') wood and group them into threes. Using the longer 4" screws (or 2") place two of the three pieces and put them in an 'L' shape. Use two screws to attach the pieces together at the end. Then take the other piece and attach it to other the end of the inside piece with two more screws to form a 'U' shape. Repeat this process untill you have four 'U' shapes.

To make the frame whole, first line up the pieces like in picture 3. Next mark the middle of the wood or the holes in the hinges and make sure each side lines up. Position one side of the hinge, flat side down, on one side of the frame according to the marks you have just made. Screw that in place then line up the other side using the marks and the hinge. Screw in the other side so the two halves are connected. Repeat on the other side of the frame and it should look like picture 5. Repeat the steps on the other two half frames to make the other frame.

As one of these frames will have a rope ladder, chose one of the ends on one frame and drill two holes with the 5/8 spade bit.

Step 2: Step 2: the Legs

For the legs you will need the 6" and 1' 2x2s (or 1' and 2' 2x2s) and 12 hinges with screws

Bottom bunk:

(Working with picture 1)

With the hinges on the frame facing up line up a 6" (or 1') leg a the corner of the frame. Line a hinge up with the inside edge and the leg. Screw hinge into the frame. You will need something under the leg to hold it up to the top of the frame so it can attach to the hinge {you could hold it but the support makes it easier}. Once level and lined up screw the hinge to the leg. it Should end up looking like picture 1. Repeat this process for the rest of the legs on the bunk and with the 1' (or 2') legs on the top bunk.

Now with the pegs on top (the remaining legs) you have two options:

  1. Repeat the process on the top bunk with the hinges on the frame facing down
  2. Attach hinges so the legs fold down the sides.

For the prototype we used option 2 (picture 6)

To do this you lay the top bunk frame with the hinges down.Open the hinges so they stop in an 'L' shape. On the outside corner of the frame take a hinge in a L shape place the bottom of the L on the wood so the other half is sticking up inline with the wood. Screw the bottom of the L to the frame. This should let the hinge open to hug the corner.With the hinge still in a 'L' place a leg on top of the part you just screwed in and against the other half of the hinge. Screw that together. Now repeat this process on the remaining legs making sure to hut the hinges on different sides (see picture 6)

Step 3: Step 3: the Weaving

To start off take your eyelet screws and put the into four piles of 11. Using the ruler and marker evenly space marks for drilling on the inside middle of one half of the frame. I know This is confusing but please bear with me. You should mark four places on the parallel sides and three on the remaining (look at picture 6 for spacing). Do this for all of the frame halves {remember to account for the side with holes, it still needs 3 screws!}. Now take your 2.4 drill bit and drill where you marked but do not drill all the way through. This is to make twisting the eyelet screws in easier. After doing this to all the half frames screw in the eyelet screws untill the thread is no longer visible. If you are not able to get them all the way in by hand then use the pliers to finish!

Now for the weaving. For this part I suggest drawing it out first.

Cut the nylon/polyester rope into 16' (or 32') sections using tape to keep from unraveling {alternatively you could use hot glue to seal the ends of the rope together; the go is to prevent fraying.} Facing half of the frame so you are parallel with the 3 eyelet screws. All of the lacing will go up through the screw (under, through, up)

  1. Staring with the bottom right screw tie one end of the rope to the screw. (not pictured)
  2. Bring the free end under and through the left of the three top screws
  3. Bring that down to the second screw on the left side
  4. From there lace the rope through the middle of the three top screws
  5. Lace the rope through the second screw on the right side
  6. Lace the rope through the right top screw. It should now look like picture 1
  7. Next bring the end of the rope through the bottom left screw
  8. Bring the rope across and through the bottom right screw (picture 2)
  9. Now pull the rope up through the third screw on the left side
  10. Take the rope across tho the third screw on the right side (picture 3)
  11. Bring the rope through the second screw on the left
  12. Lace it through the second screw on the right (picture 4)
  13. Pull the rope through the top screw on the left side
  14. Lace the rope through the top screw on the right (picture 5) then tie it off

When finished it should look like picture 7. Now just repeat these steps on the other three halves!

Step 4: Step 4: the Ladder

To make the rungs mark the center for holes according to the holes on the frame of the top bunk (spacing should be the same). Taking the 5/8 spade with and the drill make two holes in the rungs on the marks you just made. I suggest doing this over a trash bin of some kind to make clean up easier. The plastic will more brake than cut so when the that happens just keep passing the spinning bit through till the hole rounds out. You will need to brake off or sand the excess plastic as the friction will end up melting the plastic as well.

For the ladder take the braided nylon rope/ marine rope and cut it in half using tape to keep the ends from unraveling (2 4' pieces). Tie a knot on one end of each rope. take one of the rungs and slide it onto the ropes by stringing the rope through the holes. Tie a knot over each of the holes to hole the ring in place. Make sure that the knots are right on the rungs so that they don't move around a lot. About 4" or 5" away from the knot tie another knot and string the next rung on. make sure that the rungs are facing the same way; if there is a lip on the plastic keep the lips on the same side. Repeat these steps for the rest of the rungs. On the last one after tying the knot put the ends of the rope (there should be around 5" left) through the holes in the bed frame and tie the end to secure it.

Step 5: Finish Off!

To finish off unfold everything and stack it all up! The legs should be able to rest on the frame underneath. It may not be very sturdy (our prototype was definitely not) but it should stack regardless. The final touch is draping the mosquito netting over it! Now the net we used was quite large so if you are making the half scale I suggest cutting the net to fit the bed [final dimensions are ~2.5' tall, 3' long, and 1.5' wide] you may also have to cut it some for a full scale [approximate dimensions are 4.5' tall, 6' long, and 3' wide]

If you come up with any suggestions on how to make the legs sturdier I would love to hear them!

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