We’re on an adventure to build a bed…..in the air…..with a desk and a bookshelf underneath…this journey will henceforth be known as “My Daughter’s Loft Bed”.
My daughter’s request for a loft bed sounded just crazy enough to be interesting. I took some initial measurements to get some ideas of what it would take. I left the sketch out on the desk unattended and somebody made some great improvements/suggestions.
With continued interest and prodding from the young designer I spent some more time developing the idea.
The design above allowed me to figure out the rough size of each piece to make up a cut list. I found a couple online cut list optimizers that allow you to type in the dimensions and name each piece along with some basic information like the type of stock you’ll be using (for me this is 4′ x 8′ plywood) and the blade width (for me 1/8″). It uses this to fit the pieces to create as little scrap as possible. Pretty cool.
From here I made my shopping list, I’m going to use knock-down fasteners in several places for a couple reasons. Wood screws tend to split the plywood and don’t provide the holding power that a knock-down fastener will. Additionally, these will also allow me to test assemble everything in the garage before taking it apart for paint and transport upstairs.
Some additional features we’re working in.
- Lights above the desk. Two lights go into the bed structure. One simple LED light directly over the desk and fiber optic star lights. We picked out a cheaper unit with low power draw and a lower number of actual fibers. I think it’s around 150. Some go up to 500 or more. 150 should be more than enough for the area under the bed.
- Popup outlet. Another fairly inexpensive purchase, this stays flush with the desktop until you need power, then it simply pulls up for 2 outlets and 2 USB power ports.
- Storage. The blank area in the bookcase under the bed will have removable, wall mounted bins, they’re medium to small plastic trays for storing markers, glitter, yarn…and the all important googly eyes
- As I’m writing, I realize we’ll need to add a light above the bed for reading…
Most of the cutting now complete, we’ve moved on to assembling. Dado’s are used wherever permanent joints are be made. The bookshelf, steps and bed will be permanently assembled. The desk will be too big and awkward to take upstairs in one piece, so that’s going together with the knockdown hardware.
My first goof of the project, the shelves were just shy on length and with my optimized cut list there was no scrap long enough to cut replacement pieces. I could either buy another sheet or….improvise.
Second goof, already….there will be a hole in the back of the bookshelf for a foot rest, right about dead center to where I installed the storage trays. I can move that, or make a small step to attach to the back of the bookshelf. We’ll see.
More progress…and some more help from the project manager. We finished off construction of the steps on father’s day.
The first piece held together with the knock down hardware is the desk. It definitely takes some careful measuring and patience to build with. But it should allow me to break it down for sanding, paint and move without concern for stripping out screw holes etc.
That Slow Part Mid-Project
6/28/19 Update: These knockdown fasteners are a pain in my hindquarters. I made a jig to drill the holes in the same spot every time, but the dowel portion is very finicky, I’ve snapped 3 of them so far. Maybe a bigger version would be easier to work with. Playing with these has slowed my progress recently.
7/7/19 Update: We had a long break with the 4th holiday which meant I had a lot of time to work in the garage. We fully assembled and tested the bed. I was pleasantly surprised at how solid the whole thing is with the bed on top and everything bolted together.
I wired up the light over the desk (there’s even a dimmer switch for it! We’ll have a shelf out front of the bed to set books etc on and a little area in the back corner for a reading light to set on.
Finish and Paint
Taking my daughter’s loft bed back apart for finish sanding and clear coat or paint. The shelves, steps and the desk will all get a clear high gloss finish. We will paint nearly everything else white aside from the hardboard star light thingy under the bed. This will get a dark royal blue paint to look like the night sky.
7/14/19 Update: Polyurethane applied to both shelves, the steps and the desktop.
In between coats of poly, we’ve also laid out and started feeding fiber optics through the bottom of the bed.
We glued each strand in place with Elmer’s glue. I’d read, and was concerned, that other glues might melt or damage the plastic fibers. We snipped the excess about an inch from the hardboard once it was dry. This allowed me to paint the hardboard then snip the remaining fiber flush. You can’t trim these flush before painting, if the end of the strands are coated with paint they won’t work.
7/21/19 Update: I’ve finally had a chance to do some painting. With the electric spray gun, I went through half a quart in about a minute. With the flat paint we picked for the bottom of the bed, this also made it really easy to not have streaks from a roller or brush. It came out great and my daughter had fun snipping off the excess fibers.
Final Touches and Install
7/28/19 Update: This week we finished up painting everything else white and with the inhabitant of the room gone for the weekend we set out to finish this project. Cleaning out her room took a while and getting some of these pieces, especially the bed, took help from Junior and a neighbor who happened to be passing by at the perfect time.
With my daughter’s loft bed, in place and fully assembled, all the lights working and a fresh new mattress, aside from putting sheets on the bed, this one is complete!
Another project complete. Just need the project manager to return home and sign off on my final invoice.
This one’s done, but I have a lot of cleaning to do before I start the next one…any volunteers? Queue the crickets…