Bunk Bed - Double + Single

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Project by linjay posted 03-25-2011 05:40 PM 12979 views 33 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This bed design is one my wife found searching the internet—see picture of stained bed. It was $1000 and 1000 miles away so i decided to make it. I designed it using SolidWorks 3-D software – see concept picture. I had the bed pretty much built before I designed the ladder. The intent of the curved ladder is to help the climber make the transition from vertical to horizontal and this works very well. In retrospect I wish I had built the frame with a matching curve.

Our home is on a lake and has a bit of a cottage theme with lots of pine so pine would have been a reasonable choice for the spare bedroom. But I was tired of working with pine—too soft, too dusty, darkens quickly with time in sunlight, etc. I had made some windows for a playhouse for my grandchildren out of scrap spruce 2×4’s and I was very impressed with how nicely it planed up to a nice smooth surface requiring little if any sanding. And when you sanded there was practically no dust. So I decided to make the bed out of spruce. This decision turned out to be absolutely the best idea. Everything except the cedar slats in the ends is made from 2×6 spruce studs from Home Depot. The material HD stocks is nicely/properly kiln dried and moisture content is pretty low compared to the local lumber yard here. And they don’t mind if you sort through the pile to find the pieces that are the straightest and with minimum twist. The end frames finish 1-3/8 thick. And 2×6 spruce is only about $0.50 / ft. It does involve a lot of planing but the end result is worth it.

My wife does most of the finishing and she discovered a new trick when doing this bed. She’s gone through gallons of Varathane Satin interior waterbased urethane and that was the choice for this bed. It goes on very thin and requires 5 to 6 coats minimum to look good but it dries fast and you can put on 2 or 3 coats a day. By the time you’ve done one coat on evrything you can pretty much start over. But it’s still very hard not to leave brush marks and she doesn’t like the results with foam brushes. The trick she discovered was that she would let the finish get dry to the touch but not completely dry. She would then rub/burnish the finish with a soft cloth and this would cause the marks to flow and flatten and essentialy erase them. It’s not perfect finish that some of you might want at this stage but a tremendous improvement. In fact, for this bed, after some initial mnor sanding for the first couple of coats, the as-brushed and rubbed finish is the final finish.

The bed’s been a big success and the grandchildren love it. The ladder hooks on to 2 stainless steel dowels on the top and bottom rail. The dowels on the right are slightly longer than the ones on the left so you can line thes up first and then complete the install.

I hope somebody likes the spruce idea. It’s my pine substitute forever.

-- It's easy when you know how - but that's the hard part. Ontario, Canada

19 comments so far

View ChrisK's profile


1946 posts in 3049 days

#1 posted 03-25-2011 06:25 PM

I like the ladder, nice touch. I use Solidworks for almost all of my larger wood projects. Helps other to see what I am planning as well as verify the dimensions.

-- Chris K

View Ken90712's profile


17553 posts in 3156 days

#2 posted 03-25-2011 07:05 PM

Great work! Love the ladder and design you came up with.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View judgesawdust's profile


36 posts in 2591 days

#3 posted 03-25-2011 07:21 PM

What a coincidence; I am in the market for a bunkbed for my youngest and was looking for a good design. I too have seen the one you posted on the internet. I really like your modification—the curve to the stair looks really nice.

Hopefully I can “slow” my wife down a bit and allow me to make one instead of purchasing it!

Great job.

-- If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably a wise investment.

View steliart's profile


2595 posts in 2656 days

#4 posted 03-25-2011 07:22 PM

Double and single bunk?
Thats a great idea, nice ladder design, very nice construction.

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 3163 days

#5 posted 03-25-2011 07:23 PM

Nice beds, that ladder is a nice touch.

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

View Russ's profile


357 posts in 3045 days

#6 posted 03-25-2011 07:40 PM

That is one cool bed and I love the look of that ladder. Looks better then the bed that was the inspiration.

-- Russ

View linjay's profile


100 posts in 2592 days

#7 posted 03-25-2011 10:17 PM

Thanks for the kind comments. My first posting. More past projects to follow.
If anyone would like drawings for this bed (free) contact me at I only check this e-mail address occasionally but I will keep my eye on it till mid April/11. I will e-mail you a set of eDrawings.

-- It's easy when you know how - but that's the hard part. Ontario, Canada

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4045 days

#8 posted 03-26-2011 04:26 AM

bunk beds are on my list…really like your design and build!

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 2740 days

#9 posted 03-26-2011 02:39 PM

I want to build a bunk bed in my guest room, I love this design.


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3035 days

#10 posted 03-26-2011 03:53 PM

Well done, great job!! Will be starting bunk beds next week, still working on design and deciding on material. Thanks for sharing.

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View Bob Kollman's profile

Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3159 days

#11 posted 03-27-2011 08:35 AM

That is a great bed…I love the design.

You guys did a great Job.

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View Thepps's profile


139 posts in 3721 days

#12 posted 07-03-2011 11:07 PM

I love your design! Very creative. The arch ladder really adds a nice touch.

-- Thepps - Freeburg, IL

View Scrape's profile


21 posts in 2785 days

#13 posted 07-24-2011 11:21 PM

I don’t suppose you have plans available for this, by chance? My wife and I really like it, and we’re looking to build a bunk bed for my son.

View DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2530 days

#14 posted 07-24-2011 11:23 PM

My daughter just walked in and said “now that’s cool!”

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2818 days

#15 posted 12-24-2011 06:21 PM

Thanks for the link to this design. It is stunningly attractive and inviting, as well as eminently practical.

There’s something a little Scandinavian about the curve in the ladder, and the blonde wood is a perfect underscoring of the design.

The ladder attachment is elegant in its simplicity and practicality.

The ones I’m building are limited heightwise so I had to do things a little differently. I’ll be posting some sequences of that in the next week or two.

Is the ply in the top bunk just over slats? What thickness ply?

Did you fix the slats in any way?

How does it break down for moving?

Are you using special no-boxspring mattresses?



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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