I always enjoy reading project blogs here on LJ, so I’ve decided to attempt one myself. Hopefully some folks will find it enjoyable!
I’ve built a few beds over the past years, the most recent being this one that my son uses:
It’s solid maple and has been beat up a little over the years and acquired glow-in-the-dark stars, all of which adds to its character, and I don’t mind in the least. I like that the bed has been host to both my children and that they’ve felt free to customize it. The finials on the bedposts remove, and there are special finials for Halloween and Christmas and so on.
Truth be told I probably owe my wife a bed next, but I’ve skipped over her to do one for my daughter, mostly because she’s in high school now and I can foresee the day when she won’t be around the house anymore. She’s always been the sort of person who likes to curl up in a nook with a book, to be enclosed and cozy. So it seemed natural to make a built-in bed for her.
There are a number of remarkable built-in beds out on the Web. I particularly enjoyed perusing the galleries at these links:
Although my daughter and I both found a number of built-ins that we liked, we ended up settling on one my wife found in a magazine:
To my eye, this is a simple but wonderful design. The lines are clean and the proportions well-balanced. It also has some interesting design elements—particularly the 2 inch thick sides and shelves. To my eye, it’s a little “over-tall” but as it happens our ceilings are lower (8’) so that proportion will naturally be more balanced. However, I can’t simply build something that I like—I have to please my customers, after all. So after some consultations with my client, we ended up with a somewhat modified design that added real drawers to the bookshelves and a valance with curtains. Here’s the Sketchup drawing we ended with:
I elaborated that Sketchup model a little bit (although I never took it to a fully detailed plan) and then blew it up into component parts to get a handle on the scope of the project and to make it easier to feed it into the Cut-List plugin. It took me a bit of work to fully understand the Cut-List plugin, but I exchanged a few emails with Steve, who was very helpful and patient. Excellent customer service!
Probably the most interesting problem at this stage is how to make the 2 inch thick sides. Anything solid that thick at that size is going to be immensely heavy, but at the same time the sides need to be substantial enough to anchor the built-in and allow the mounting of lamps and shelves. I contemplated a number of different approaches, and settled on making a sandwich of two layers of 1/2 plywood with a layer of 1/2 spacers in-between. That yields 1 1/2” and should be (somewhat) less heavy. We’ll see. I’m curious whether anyone else has faced a similar problem and what solution they settled on… Please leave a comment!
The wood is all acquired from the local Big Box Lumber Store, although I had to special order the birch-sided 1/2” plywood. (I was able to order C3 grade and save a little money, since the whole thing will be painted.) That all came in today and has been transferred to the workshop—in this case, our garage:
My normal “workshop” is about a 10’x10’ space in the basement and would not accommodate a project this size. For the same reason I lack a table saw and some other useful tools. You may be able to make out a circular saw cutting jig on the top of the wood pile. It’s resting on a hard foam panel. Together that’s my setup for cutting the plywood—the foam panel goes underneath the plywood to be cut, supporting it and providing some tearout protection. The foam panel idea is something I picked up off the Interwebs, and it’s a really great tip—much, much better than trying to cut on horses or 2×4s. I also invested in a new 40 tooth blade for the circular saw, so I’m hoping my edges won’t be too ragged. (I picked up an 80 tooth blade for the miter saw as well.)
The plan for the rest of the weekend is to assemble one of the large panels.