Building a dorm loft bed is a task that requires some carpentry skill, but once completed it can add much needed space to your room. A loft bed is simply an ordinary bed with extended legs than lifts the bed 5 or 6 feet off the floor. If you are not uncomfortable sleeping that high off the floor, it is a great way to add space for a desk or comfy chair in your room. Read on to learn how to build a dorm loft bed.
Choose the size of your bed or in many cases your bed size has already been chosen and you will merely be building a frame that gives height to your old mattress.
Cut the four pieces for the frame of your bed. Don't forget to allow for the thickness of the boards and then add another ¼ inch on each side to allow for movement of the mattress. For example, if you are making a bed to the irregular size of 3 X 6, then you will cut two pieces at a length of 6 and ½ inch. The extra half-inch is to give a quarter inch leeway on each side. Now when you cut the other two members you will also add the ½ inch for leeway, plus you need to add another 3 inches to allow for the thickness of the lumber. (This assumes you are using standard 2 X 6s or 2 X 8s, because they are exactly an inch and a half thick.) Now cut your boards to length and make sure each cut is square.
Now put the frame together. You can use ¼-inch lag bolts that are 2 ½ inches long. You will need 12 for putting the frame together. There will be two rows of three at each end and each bolt will be recessed, so the head does not stick out. To recess each bolt start the hole with a 5/8 inch speed bore bit and drill into the side of the end boards to a depth of ½ inch. Mark the face of the drill bit with a piece of tape to keep the speed bore bit from going too deep into the wood. Once the tape hits the wood then it is time to stop drilling. Then drill a pilot hole for each lag. Drive the lag bolts slowly with an electric screw gun or a ratchet wrench. You can assemble the four members right on the floor to insure a square and level bed.
Now you can make the slats. You will need four slats. One goes at each end and the remaining two are spaced evenly between the other two members. Now attach the slats between the side members in the same manner as before using the ¼ inch lag bolts. Make sure the frame is square before you attach your first slat and make sure each slat is flush with the bottom of the frame. Do not forget to use the speed bore bit, in order that each bolt can be recessed.
Cut a 3/8 inch sheet of plywood to go right on top of the slats. There is no need to attach the plywood just lay it in place. (This step is not necessary for those using box springs and a traditional mattress.)
Cut the legs of your bed. These will most likely be about six feet high. It is best to use 2 X 6s. You can attach them right to the sides of the frame, so that the top of the six-foot high legs are flush with the top edge of the bed frame. Use the same method of recessed ¼ inch lags except the length should be about 1 ¾ to 2 inches. It is best to turn the frame up side down on the floor, when you tack on the 2 X 6 legs. Then turn the bed over and set it in place when you are done.
Make braces for the legs. You can use 1 X 4s or 1 X 6s for this task. Put two diagonal braces on the back and two horizontal braces at the bottom of each end. These braces can be attached by countersinking and drilling with simple wood screws.
Build a sideboard, especially if you are concerned about rolling out of bed. Most likely your bed will be against one wall, so you only need to build one sideboard. Take a piece of 1 X 8 and cut it to length so that it fits in between the two upright legs. Screw the board to the frame with regular screws so that at least half of the board is above the edge of the bed frame. Don't forget to countersink all screws.
Build rungs along one side of the bed to use as a ladder for getting in and out of bed. 2 X 4s are all you need and they should be attached one foot apart. Now it's complete, but you can add a a clear finish if you like. Sweet dreams.