Sunday, November 15, 2020

Finishing a cool bunk bed

 I finished off a really cool bunk bed setup recently. It started with the same basic setup, making boxes on the frames, and making the supports. But they also wanted a climbing wall, a slide, and a few drawers.

Supports are in and this bunk is standing

The middle supports determine how wide I need to make the slide

This is the frame for the drawers

Drawer frame is installed, with the slides

Climbing wall is getting there


Slide is going together

This drawer came out a little small

I swear I had to build 6 drawers to get 3 to fit right

Now painted!

Hardware is installed


Getting my kids involved with the install

Lena really got into it

Finished! They loved it.

Drawers turned out pretty clean.


My helpers


The kid is a natural!


You can make cool bunk beds like this. Just take it one component at a time. This is a twin/twin bunk, standard twin mattress is 38" x 75", so start with a square box there. I use 2x3's for the core, cover it with 1x3 furring strips, then wrap the core with 2x6's. The supports are all made with 2x4's, cut a 12.5" length off of one end, and a 9" block off. The total height for this bed was 75", so I glued and screwed the 9" block 18" from the top, and the larger block flush with the bottom. The boxes then sit on top of the blocks, attached with 3 screws through the supports. Then I add a 1x4 and 1x3 to the top as safety rails, cut to length.

For the climbing wall, I glue & screw 2x6 boards to the end supports, then ordered the playground handles and holds from Amazon. They came with hardware to mount on 2" stock (which is really only 1.5" thick) so that was straightforward. The slide is tricky. I started with a couple of 2x6x8' boards, calculated the angle for the top & bottom cuts. Then I measured for 2x3's to go under the plywood for support, and cut a groove through the inside of both boards to hold the plywood. I used one sheet of plywood for the slide and the drawers. After cutting the plywood to size, install it into the grooves with finish nails. Sand the plywood so it gets smooth, I used 120 and 180 grit for this. Then I coat the plywood with some marine epoxy (TotalBoat) that I had hanging around. Install the 2x3's underneath for stability, so the plywood doesn't flex. Out of habit, I put them every 16" like it was a wall stud or something. I attach the slide to the upper bed with door hinges, they are heavy duty for the weight, and it prevents toys from getting stuck under the slide.

For the drawers, I built this frame that provided a front face and stability by screwing it to the supports and for the back it screwed to the bottom bed, creating a frame that was parallel to the floor. Then I put sides up so I could mount the drawer slides. The drawers are just boxes made of plywood and assembled with the finish nailer.  I put a 1x8 face on the boxes, and mounted the rest of the drawer slides. The important part there is to get the sides on the frame exactly parallel, and don't make the boxes try to fit exactly. Leave about 1/8" shorter than you think they will need so the slide can operate easily. 

This one really did pull out all of the stops, and the kid was so excited! I thought the slide came out a little steep. But really everything was clean, the parents were super happy with it.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Finishing the Walnut Side Table

 I pulled the walnut side table back outside and got it finished off, kind of. I still need to build the drawer. But what is assembled really did turn out fantastic





ok my photo skills were seriously lacking over the summer. My back was out, and I just let everything else fall apart. no actual finished pictures.

Walnut is a porous wood, so you have to fill the pores first. Start finishing walnut by sanding with 80, 120, 180, and 220 grit sandpaper over the whole table. Then I like to use tung oil with a 220 grit sanding block or sponge to grind in that fine dust to fill the pores. After that, sand it again with 320 grit, then since this is an interior table I use a wipe-on polyurethane applying at least 8 coats, and buffing with 0000 steel wool in between. The result is clean and flawless.

This turned out really nice, I have to get a decent picture of it and build that dang drawer.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Finished landscape lighting

 Well, we finally got the last of the landscape lights put in. I mean, Kelley did. We've been waiting for the style we liked to come back in stock, but with Covid it just doesn't look like they are going to make any of those any more, so we adapted and got some different lights.


Kelley the low-voltage electrician



Really glad this is done now! 

Also done, we got in the last tree. Apparently I don't have a picture of it, but it's a golden ginkgo tree in the main bed between the red & green japanese maples. This is going to look really cool when it all grows in! 

Next up in landscaping, we need to fill in the rest of the bed with smaller shrubs and ornamental grasses.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Hanging Full

 To keep going with the full size hanging bed, I need to start by cutting the runners to go under the frame, then keep wrapping the oak around the topside to get the look I wanted. I started with a single piece of 8/4 red oak about 7" wide, and ripped 2 straight pieces out of it about 3" wide. Then trimmed to length, put those rounded edges all over the place, finished and installed.

Attached the finished runners to the bottom of the frame



After discussion with the client, we settled on a stain and a topcoat, both from Old Masters finishes. I really love Old Masters products. She wanted a warm brown stain on the red oak, and topcoated with Ascend Exterior for a super durable, UV protected finish. I think I used a paint can to get the radius for those ends, drilled a 5/8" hole for the hanging hardware to mount, then ran all of the edges (including the inside of the 5/8" hole) past a 1/4" radius roundover bit on the router. The finished stringers are super clean, I think, functional, and attractive. Now if the rest of the bed turns out this nice.....

Started with the back

Added the front angles

Built out the arms


sweaty carpenter

The sides start as smaller pieces

Storing the bed becomes a challenge in space management

Added all of the verticals on the arms and back


Added the spacers between the side verticals. Base is now totally wrapped


Woodworking is done, time for finish



All of the angles to show off the woodworking


Of course this is when I ran out of stain and had to go buy more

That's better





All of the angles to see the finished product

Ella usually delivers these things with me, this time we took it to the UPS store

How we left it. Destination: Nebraska

Building these beds are pretty straightforward. I have a jig for the base, then put the stringers underneath. Wrap the base then with your finished material. I start with rough cut boards that are at least 6" wide. Cutting the boards to length first means you need to identify the component. Start with the corners, the front corners I did 19", the back corners were 21". Then rip a straight edge on the board, and rip to a width usually just under 3" so you get both sides of the corner piece from one cut board. Whatever width you choose, it has to be consistent throughout all of the skinny pieces.

After ripping to width, put the boards through the planer until you get a smooth surface. I use a finish nailer on the air compressor to attach everything from here on out. First join the corner pieces together at exactly a 90* angle. This creates a broad side and a pretty side - the broad side shows the joint, one face and one side of a board, then the pretty side of the corner is just a face. I put the pretty side where you get the most visibility, facing the front for the 19" boards, and facing the side for the rear corners. 

Once the four corners are established, you just have to fill in the gaps. An easy place to start is the front, it takes a full board running between the corner pieces. That's the only time you rip a straight edge, then rip a 45* bevel on the other side and use a sander to take the sharp corner off. 

Forming the arms and back stars with measuring between the corners and cutting a full board to that length. Then rip two < 3" widths (the exact same width as the corner pieces were) out of that, and plane it smooth. One of those pieces goes on top, and the other goes underneath the first one to make it stable. This "T" configuration adds strength and forms the basis for being able to attach everything else. The arm is exactly the same width as the pretty face of the front corner, so it has to be notched to fit around the pretty face of the back corner. Then the under-piece goes inside of both corners. 

After forming the T's for the arms and back, add the vertical pieces. On the sides, I want to maintain a 6" wide piece to cover the frame on both sides. Any wood you have left over after that can be ripped and planed to match the < 3" finished pieces used to form the arms and back. I always have a different amount of board left every time I build these beds, sometimes I have 2 pieces for each side and 1 for the back, this time I got 4 verticals on each side and back. Just be sure the sides have the same number of verticals and put the rest to stabilize the back. Also a long piece on the inside of the back goes a long way to stabilize the back. Fill in with the 6" wide stuff in between the verticals on the sides to finish off the woodworking.

After the carpentry is done it's time for sanding and finishing. It's a lot easier for me to sand with 80 and 120 grit on the belt sander after I put the pieces through the planer but before nailing them into the frame. Then I use a random orbit sander with 180/220/320 grit paper for a super fine look. Apply a stain, I used Old Masters Old American penetrating stain this time, then top coated with Old Masters Ascend Exterior for a rock hard finish. I hit the whole thing with 0000 steel wool between the stain & topcoat as well.

This bed is a really straightforward build, the customer in Nebraska absolutely loved it. The worst part for me was shipping, with a $750 charge UPS made more profit than I did on this one. But these beds are fun to put together, come out beautiful, and really make an impact on your exterior when they are installed.

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