After an epic weekend of sanding and building (and a birthday party thrown in for good measure) the loft beds are done. The girls are moved in together and now the work can begin on the baby’s room. I managed to burn out a belt sander and an orbital sander in the process. They were both around 30 years old so they have served well.
I know you are thinking “that’s great for you, what’s in it for me?” Well, I am here to give you some lessons learned in the great Summer 2013 bed build…
1. Sanding lumber takes time
I opted to purchase roughish lumber from Home Depot. I could have bought the relatively finished wood with no lumber markings or machining marks. It costs a lot more so I didn’t buy that. I also do not have a planer or jointer. So this meant lots and lots of sanding to remove the rough spots (like the whole surface layer), the lumber marks and machine marks. It required many hours of belt sanding (may the sander RIP) and as a result many hours of a high pitched whine that I was able to share with my neighbourhood. I decided to do the sanding in the backyard so I could spread the sawdust around. I listened to many many hours of podcasts while I completed this stage of the project.
2. Measure more than once
As you might imagine from the title of this one, I might have mis-measured once or twice before I cut the wood. As such I have some more scrap than intended. Measuring is an important component of any project, especially ones that result in pieces you can’t make longer when they are too short.
3. Bookcases are heavy
The plans for these beds called for a lot of 2×4’s and I decided to reduce the reliance on 2×4’s because I felt that the beds were overbuilt and would be quite heavy as a result. I substituted some 1×4’s for the bed rails and a 2×3 for one of the ladder pieces and a couple of others in the platform structure. I did however add a bookcase to each bed in lieu of legs. Since the bookcase had to support a bed and at least one kid, I used 2×10’s for the sides. In total the bookcases are comprised of two 50″ 2×10’s and five 37″ 1×10’s, plus 20 screws, a 1/4″ plywood backboard and some finishing nails. All that is to say, a pretty solid bookcase that includes no small amount of weight. I then had the opportunity to carry each one up two stories. Good times. The headboard on top was added after the carrying upstairs.
4. Measure more than twice
As referenced above, measuring is important. It cuts down on feeling dumb and the confusion resulting from pieces that don’t fit like they should.
5. Wood hurts when it lands on bare toes
Normally I wear steel toe boots when i am working on projects around the house that have the potential to cause me foot pain. For this project, since I spent so much time sanding outside, I chose my steel-toe sandals. Those sandals are quite similar to my every day sandals, except that they are covered in more sawdust. I had the opportunity to be reminded on a couple of occasions that wood, even not so heavy wood, when dropped from the right height and hitting your toes on the right angle, can cause hopping about trying not to swear in proximity to small children. Even though this happened more than once, I refused to change my footwear. I did this project my way, which was different from my usual my way…
6. Get more screws
Each of these beds include around 140 screws of a couple of different sizes. I didn’t keep track of that fact when I built the first one. I only realized it as I finished off my box of screws with three screw holes remaining to be filled and no screws left to put in them. So I would suggest getting more screws that you think you need (or being willing to fudge a little in ways that only you know about).
6. Grow taller
We decided to add 5″ to the height of these beds so as to make more space underneath. We have realized there are a couple of unexpected consequences to that decision. It makes it harder to make the beds (not build – make the beds, make the beds with sheets). Fortunately for me this largely means the end to hospital corners. I am not well versed in this particular skill and will now be able to blame it entirely on the awkwardness of making a bed about the height of my head. It also means we can’t sit on their bed to read or sing before bed so now we need to modify our bedtime routine. We have to kiss and hug them good night before they climb up into their beds and we can’t see them in their beds very well or adjust their sheets when we check on them before we go to bed. To resolve this particular issue we are going to pick up a step stool for adult use.
7. Measure four or five times
I might have cut some pieces the wrong size during this project.
8. Sanding takes a long time
I think mentioned this, but it can take a while to sand the wood involved in this project. Sanding to even out the surface and clean off the wood, then sanding to remove those coarse sanding marks and then sanding to remove those sanding marks made while removing the first sanding marks. Now the wood is nice and soft!
9. Pay attention to the plans
I made some changes to the plans, that necessitated changing some of the measurements and the materials required for the project. Some of the aforementioned measurement issues resulted from my lack of attention to detail about how I changed the plans. The plan was great, the execution left a little to be desired. In my defence, it was hard to see the plans on account of all the sawdust on my glasses.
10. Don’t be a square.
The first bed is slightly off square and as a result it is touching the wall. It is a very stable bed. The second one is better. It is square in all the right places. It does not touch the wall. It is wobbly. I need to figure out the primary cause of the wobble and a fix for that particular wave pool effect. I suspect it has something to do with it being a bed up in the air.
Some of you might wonder why didn’t he just go and buy a freaking bed from Ikea instead of doing all that sanding. Mainly because I don’t like paying people for things I can do myself (measuring not included – I would pay somebody to do that) and secondly because I am stubborn. I enjoy working with my hands from time to time. It is a welcome relief from the cubicle farm and email. At the end of the day I have something tangible standing in front of me that will serve my kids for years to come. As the girls get older and I build more things I will teach them how to use tools and get them involved in the projects. Perhaps my legacy will be two girls and a third yet to be determined child who know how to measure. They might even get past my sad devotion to that ancient religion -> imperial measurements.
Beds are done. Kids are sleeping in them. Next up, painting the baby’s room.