Family bunk beds

My young niece and nephew were getting a little bit big for their toddler beds. My sister thought it might be fun to make bunk beds. I had seen a nice design by Matthias Wandel that I thought I could adapt.

Gradually the project grew more ambitious. What if the bottom bunk were big enough so that the whole family could read together? What if there were a bright reading light built in? How about storage?

The design took shape over several weeks. The big breakthrough was putting storage alongside the bed, not at the head or foot. The drawings became too complicated to do and re-do by hand, and eventually I wrote a Haskell computer program to figure out the size and placement of all the parts, and to make drawings.

The final version of the bed was made from over 150 parts. I spent about 5 days in the shop cutting everything, then drove to New York with a car full of boards. (So full that I could not pack a suitcase, and instead put my travel gear in cloth shopping bags, which could be tucked into odd corners.)

I arrived on a Thursday and left on a Monday. Aside from the Fall Concert, the Halloween parade, and a few other things, I spent the whole weekend building (or waiting for glue to dry). And as you'll see, I had a ton of great help. Enjoy the photos.

Early concept art
Failed storage concept (lower bunk)
Failed storage concept (upper bunk)
Final design, POVray rendering
POVray rendering, looking toward the foot
First lumber delivery
"Rabbeting" lower-bunk support struts
Working drawings in the shop
Parts cut and ready for loading
Car full of boards, night before departure
Car full of boards, day of departure
No room for a suitcase!
Dry-fitting the A frame
Perspective distortion makes the frame look almost straight. It isn't
A frame glued up and drying—looks straight and isn't
Ready to assemble the ladder
Foot end of frame, with ladder
Dante preparing lower-bunk struts
Aria marks the wedge where it will be glued
Top-bunk struts have been painted (thanks Calixto)
Foot frame and ladder are ready for sanding and painting
A-frame awaiting its turn for sanding and painting
(It is also a gate)
Tacking in separators for upper-bunk struts
Partially assembled cubbies
Inside a cubby
(Bare board on the right is from when Christian saved the day)
Frame assembly—is it square?
Dry-fit frame with adjacent cubbies
Early test
(Note the big shim under one leg)
The ladder is tested and approved
Full assembly
View from inside
Painting is complete!
It works!
Batman sleeps here
Family reading
The Aria Collection, Fall 2015