Do It Yourself: How To Make Your Own Bunk Bed

Build bunk beds following these simple instructions using little equipment.

It isn't that difficult to build a bunk bed, providing you have the proper equipment in advance, and the appropriate tools. Before starting, however, you might want to draw the layout on a paper and refer to that before blindly cutting wood that might be a mistake.

Before you begin building, you need to buy two mattresses, at least six inches thick. The average size mattress is three feet wide by six feet long, so we will use those dimension for these instructions. If the mattress is shorter, you will need to adjust your cutting measurements. If you are building for children, it's not a good idea to start out with the small youth mattress, because if they outgrow the mattress, they've outgrown the bed, and then you must build another one.

For tools, you will need a ratchet with a half-inch or larger drive, a circular saw, a drill bit to accommodate carriage bolt screws, about a quarter inch in diameter, and possibly a wrench. A carpenter's pencil or regular pencil will be needed also. A level is handy, and you will need a tape measure.

For materials, you will need the mattresses and sixteen straight boards, twelve measuring two by six inches by eight feet long, and eight measuring two by eight inches by six feet long. Also, you will need one one-by-four-inch by eight-foot long board. It would be ideal to find twelve-foot long boards, making less waste, but they are not found in all places. If you find them, you won't need as many boards, possibly one or two less, as there will be less waste when cutting. But they are also much more expensive per foot than the eight foot boards, so you will have to decide which is better. You will also need two quarter-inch pieces of plywood measuring an inch less than three by six feet. Finally, you will need about 52 three-inch-long lag screws, otherwise known as carriage bolts, and four one-and-a-half-inch-long carriage bolts. Also, you will need four six-inch spikes for anchoring the top bunk temporarily. You will also need four one-inch carriage bolts, an L-shaped bracket for holding a one-by-four inch board (which you also need to buy), and some child-safe varnish or paint. Sandpaper might be needed as well.

To begin, you need to make two frames for the mattresses. Measure four eight-inch boards exactly three feet long for both frame ends. For the sides, cut each eight-inch board approximately six feet, six inches long. At each end of the long boards, drill two holes about an inch from the end, up and down. Once the holes are drilled, place the boards over an upright three'-foot cut board and put the pencil through the hole, showing where the holes should be drilled on the inner board. This is your outer frame for the mattress. Screw the carriage bolts in with the ratchet. Before doing the same thing with the other end, measure the length of the mattress and compare it to the remaining length of the bed frame. If there is just a one inch different, continue on, drilling and bolting the remaining boards as you did at the other end. If it is quite a bit longer, cut the two ends. Make sure your long boards are OUTSIDE the short boards.

Once the frame is finished, drill holes and screw the remaining five three-foot long two-by-six lengths flat across the bottom edge. This will be the framework to hold the mattress. You could use one-inch boards, but with the two-inch size, it will be extra sturdy and the child won't crash through the bottom of the frame.



Do this on both frames and you now have two bed frames for two mattresses.

On the four remaining two-by-six by six-foot boards, measure up one foot and drill three holes in a triangular shape at one end, and measure two feet from the other end and drill three triangular holes. Tip one frame on its side and screw the bolts into it at the one-foot mark, making sure the long board is level and perpendicular. This frame is going to be very heavy, and this is where your helper comes in. Once screwed in, flip it over and screw in the other side exactly the same way. Standing it up now, you will have one bed slightly more than a foot off the ground, and the framework for the top bed.

As you have the holes drilled for the top frame, get your helper to help you hoist the second frame on the top, and drive a spike in each hole about an inch to hold it until you can screw in the carriage bolts. Once you have two bolts in each corner, pull out the spikes and continue with the final bolts. Your frame is complete.

On the top bunk frame, install the two brackets to hold the safety board. Cut the safety board to a length of six-feet-six inches.

Check for rough edges and sand them down. Stain or paint the frame. When it's dry, put the plywood on the bottom of the mattress area, and the mattress over the top.

You may also want to buy a bunk bed ladder to attach over the top frame, so whoever sleeps on top can get in and out safely. If you have very rambunctious children, you may need to anchor the bed to the wall. But this is such a solid bed; it most likely will never tip over.

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