August 24, 2011

DIY Bunk Beds - Part 1 (Building)

After a fairly exhaustive search for a reasonably priced and aesthetically pleasing set of bunk beds, we came up empty handed.  So one of us jokingly said "we could probably build bunk beds."  Probably.

There are benefits to the idea: we could customize the design, we could customize the size to accommodate our currently owned pillow-top mattress height (13 inches) and under-bed storage baskets (9 inches) PLUS we could save some money.

The idea marinated for awhile.

When we finished painting Bedroom #2, the idea was casually reintroduced.  We gave each other the squinty side eye: are you serious? I don't know. Are YOU serious?  We bounced around a few websites to brainstorm ideas for build-your-own bunk bed frames and kind of fell into working on the design.

With a rough idea of what we would like to do, Handy Husband researched the cost of quality materials from the local lumber yard.  Not surprisingly, as it has been the common theme with this venture, it was still rather expensive.  Around $400 for lumber and hardware.  Not including the sweat equity and aggravation of construction.  Those are free. 

Back to the drawing board we went for some additional brainstorming and lively discussion regarding the pros and cons of the entire build-a-bunk-bed project.

We know it CAN be done, but SHOULD we try it right now?  Because we have a baby-influenced deadline.  Because if we fail, we'll need to start over or go back to BUYING the bunk beds (like normal people).  Because we've never really done anything like this before.  Because I'm a pathological worrier.

HH draws real good.
We took a trip to Home Depot and spent some time wandering the wood aisles in search of a less expensive alternative to the local lumber yard.  Lots of taking down lumber and putting it on the cart.  Lots of picking up lumber from the cart and returning it to the shelves.

I can only imagine what the employees in that store think of us.

We wandered into the long aisle of construction grade lumber to see just how "BUDGET" we can go with materials for this project but still end up with a sturdy well-built frame.  I took one look at the price of a 2 x 4 and started to get motivated.  So we dove right in and selected an assortment of slightly imperfect but very inexpensive lumber.

Handy Husband cut the wood to size and we spent what felt like the next 87 consecutive weekends sanding and filling knots with wood putty for a satiny smooooth finish.  Which is not so easy to wrangle out of a piece of cheap lumber.  But it can be done.

Handy Husband loves to sand.  And sand and sand and sand.  It was my job to fill the multitude of imperfections with wood putty and complain heartily about the oppressive July heat and endless sawdust.  Rinse and repeat.

Now this is where my *secret weapon* comes into play.
A little bit of magic I like to call "Handy Husband Alone With Power Tools."

The last year of projects here at the bungalow have taught me many lessons.  The #1 LESSON being, if you give this man the right tools and enough time to himself HE CAN BUILD ANYTHING.  And he did.

He built bunk beds.

Practically all by himself.  Once he started with the assembly, I stepped in occasionally for some design consultation, obligatory nagging, clamp holding and lumber lifting assistance here and there.

Because it turns out, Handy Husband is part undercover DIY furniture project genius, part mad scientist, part reincarnated ancient ship builder and 150% awesome.  Oh, and he makes work boots and cut-off camo pants LOOK GOOD.

With some time, some 2 x 4's and an awful lot of determination, he steadily worked his magic.  One weekend at a time in the hot sun.

Carefully crafting mortise and tenon joinery for the ladder sections of the frame while simultaneously cultivating a lean mean t-shirt tan line.

Until the frame looks exactly like his drawing.

How DOES he do it? *MAGIC*


  1. I CANNOT (and I mean CANNOT!) wait to see the final product!!!!!!


    I've been eying a mortise and tenon dining table so I'll be sending a drawing to HH's attention soon. Thanks.

  3. I just found your blog from Decor Adventures and wanted to tel you I love it. Your neighbors suck and probably paid that cat to stalk you. So, just stopping by to say "hi" and can't wait to see this bunk bed all done.

  4. Y'all are so ambitious! I can't wait to see the final thing, I know it's going to rock!

  5. We built our table and bench with the same frame structure, once you get the hang of it, it is really simple :)

    So-so glad you found a less expensive lumber solution -- when you first said $400 for lumber my jaw DROPPED. We spent $100 on our table, and the entire top is 2x6 boards. There is always a deal to find as long as you pick the right wood species. :D

    Cannot wait to see the finished product! :D

  6. I am in awe. We bought wood from Home Depot almost a year ago for a board & batten project and it's still not up (and all we need to use is liquid nails). Truly remarkable.