I really need a question answered and advice on making a loft bed for my son

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Forum topic by kiso posted 08-09-2014 03:04 PM 1398 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 1384 days

08-09-2014 03:04 PM

Hello. Thank you first of all for being here on the internet to help with questions for people like me. I’m building a loft bed for my son and I’ve decided how I’m building it and I’m set to go but I’m having trouble finding out “what” type of joint I’m trying to accomplish. Hopefully my picture will show up that I add.

First one is what the 4×4 will look like after I cut it out. It’s THAT kind of cut that I can’t seem to find any information about. What kind of saw I need to use and so on. I love YouTube for things like this but not knowing what it’s call doesn’t help.

Second picture is what the final frame will be.

18 replies so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3710 days

#1 posted 08-09-2014 03:12 PM

The bit left behind would be a tenon. The joint of the two boards to each other is a butt joint.

To cut the tenon just draw lines, on your stock, that define the tenon as you’ve done in your sketch. Rip down along the tenon on one side, rip a second cut for the other tenon’s side and then crosscut down toward the already cut tenon lines to free the waste pieces (there will be three pieces following this order). I would stay just a bit proud of the tenon so you could pare down to your exact measurement with your chisels.


-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View ddockstader's profile


155 posts in 3259 days

#2 posted 08-09-2014 08:43 PM

Just so you realize, the 4X4 that you have drawn is not really 4” X 4”. That is the nominal size. The actual size is closer to 3 5/8” X 3 5/8”. The 1” stock that you are joining to the 4X4 is really about 3/4” thick (these dimensions will vary depending on the surfacing done on the lumber, but they’re close). And if you are intending to use 1” lumber for bed rails (as it looks like from the drawing), I would suggest that you get 2” lumber (which is really 1 1/2”) instead. Having made a couple of these, kids (even little kids) can put a pretty good strain on the bed infrastructure. Just a recommendation.

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6 posts in 1384 days

#3 posted 08-13-2014 02:25 AM

Yea, the boards are 1 1/2” and not 2” as well as the 4×4’s are actually 3.5×3.5. It was a sketch prior to implementation. The outside frame is going to be 2×6x*. Then I’m going to use a 2×4 inside OF the 2×6’s to place the bed rails onto for the mattress and springs. Should I use some sort of metal outside brackets like that are found at Home Depot or Lowes that are straight with several holes or is that overkill to the wood for adding pilot holes?

View kiso's profile


6 posts in 1384 days

#4 posted 08-13-2014 02:28 AM

Thank both of you as well for your replies. I don’t think it’s a tenon that you mentioned after looking into the pictures of what it is its not what the final project is going for. The wood isn’t going to be going into another piece of wood. It’s going to meet side to end (basically) while resting on top of the 4×4 and then be bolted to that extra top wooden part of the 4×4 with carriage bolts. Kinda a fancy looking leg (I hope)

View irish620's profile


43 posts in 2306 days

#5 posted 08-13-2014 03:28 AM

You might consider doing an open mortise and tenon. More complex but it will add superior strength (racking) to your frame.

View Woodknack's profile


11624 posts in 2377 days

#6 posted 08-13-2014 05:29 AM

I’ve seen that wood joint before but don’t know the name, maybe a timber framing joint. Don’t bother with metal brackets, use a little wood glue or construction adhesive and bolt them to the post. Irish has a good point though, racking will be your enemy. I would strongly consider either: Using two 3/4” pieces glued together, the outside piece extends over the post like your picture but the inside piece butts against the post to prevent racking. Or just use a 1.5” wide piece and cut a notch to do the same thing.

I couldn’t find a picture of exactly what I’m describing but this is close.

-- Rick M,

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3099 days

#7 posted 08-13-2014 05:47 AM

There are lot’s of ways to skin a cat.
Maybe your over thinking it.
I did one that went together very simply and is still holding up well.
Good luck. I do know what you mean by knowing what you want but not knowing what to call it. I hate that…...............

-- mike...............

View kiso's profile


6 posts in 1384 days

#8 posted 08-13-2014 05:28 PM

@redryder/Mike LOL EXACTLY my friend. I’m sure I’m totally over thinking it. I’m a tall and husky guy and his mother is a tall beach body blonde so I’m sure my son is easily going to be 6’ so i want to make sure he won’t break it from “whatever” activities he does until he leaves my house.

@irish620 After spending some time looking at THAT type of joint I did like how it looks and I think you’re right that it will add a lot more strength to the piece overall. I only have a limited source for power tools but I’m sure I have anything you’d say I’d need. My Father and Grandfather are/were tool junkies.

@Rick M I plan on, when everything is cut to size, using 2 carriage bolts per corner side to mount TO that little “nub” on the 4×4 ( I remember it’s not really 4×4 but a lot easier for reference lol )

I’ve cut into the 4×4 with a corded circular saw raised to 1.5 height and slowly from the tip shaved off the wood and then sanded down whatever wasn’t smooth. Being on my 4th piece I’ve gotten quite well at it FINALLY. When I get to my parents house today to start really “hitting the ground running” I’ll take more photo’s if you guys are interested in still helping me make the RIGHT decisions for my project. Maybe it will give better insight to how I’m failing to accurately describe my “idea.”

Again, I really appreciate the feedback, suggestions and thoughts. MUCH appreciated. Have a great day and TTY soon.

View Woodknack's profile


11624 posts in 2377 days

#9 posted 08-14-2014 03:28 AM

I still call them 4×4s and 2×4s and assume everyone knows they are not, and if they don’t know, they will figure it out when they need to know.

-- Rick M,

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1735 posts in 1456 days

#10 posted 08-14-2014 04:02 AM

The area on which the 2x will rest is a shoulder. The 2x connection is a butt joint. And if I remember correctly many years after learning how to make this joint the resultant 3×3 portion is called a stantion. The best weight bearing joint when doing post building without metal fasteners. Bore and fasten with wooden dowels. make the dowels slightly oversize and freeze them before driving them. That is the way my menonite grand dad taught me.

-- Still trying to master kindling making

View TravisH's profile


578 posts in 1932 days

#11 posted 08-14-2014 11:12 AM

That is the way I did my kids loft and bunk beds and never had any issues. I use a 3/4 sheet of ply to hold the mattress and screw it down to the frame. I do run a 2×4 along the base of the wall side on the loft beds and all good. The only real concern with the bed was making sure no areas that would work as a noose and hang a child (ladder and rails area). Boys typically will really give a loft of play with climbing, hanging, flipping, etc…

I don’t use glue because from my experience they get moved, taken down, put back up frequently once the kids get a little older. They don’t want the loft…they want a real bed…wait you put a loft in because it is the only way I will have room…..

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2880 days

#12 posted 08-14-2014 02:24 PM

If I was building this, I’d use a handsaw. Quickest, easiest, safest way to cut this joint.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View kiso's profile


6 posts in 1384 days

#13 posted 08-16-2014 04:10 PM

Thanks all for the activity. Here’s some picture of the work so far. I decided to just make the entire wall raised and I’ll figure out what to do at the space not occupied by the mattress.

View kiso's profile


6 posts in 1384 days

#14 posted 08-16-2014 10:54 PM

How I did it was I took a circular saw and I raised it 1 1/2 inches and made a few cuts, broke off the pieces and then used the saw to “shave” it smooth. Rinse and repeated until I was at the bottom of the resting spot. Then I flipped the 4×4 and did it again until I was left with just 1/4th the area of the 4×4 left.

I’m now constructing the frame for the mattress and box spring. The Loft runs 10 feet, I figured “why not”. At the end of the bed he’ll have a roughly 3×3 section of flooring to get up and down on and perhaps I’ll make some sort of shelf for him up there.

I plan on adding a backing to the bed section so he can use it as a sort of “day bed” and watch TV, play video games or just relax, kinda like a really high sofa. What I’m going to do UNDER it is a whole mess of ideas I haven’t decided on yet. I’m thinking a short desk and perhaps clothes racks under the “floor.”

Innitially I was going to have a ladder on the front facing side but I think I’m going to allow him to use the sides as step ups since there is 3 feet of unused space to the wall.

Thanks for all the advice and help. Feel free to give ideas as they are helpful! Thanks again everyone!

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11624 posts in 2377 days

#15 posted 08-17-2014 05:18 PM

I was leafing through a book by Bill Hylton and he just calls that a post and rail lap joint.

-- Rick M,

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