Wood to build a bunk bed with

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Forum topic by A.Scott posted 09-04-2015 03:11 PM 2676 views 1 time favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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230 posts in 2982 days

09-04-2015 03:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: pine bunk bed

I am needing to build my son a bunk bed and it should resemble the beds I have posted pics. I want to make him something he won’t be ashamed of when he grows older and I have never built anything like this before, so if you have experience would you please leave a comment so I can use them to make a bed room suite. Thanks in advance!! Oh, I am going to be using pine lumber from Lowes or HD and right now I don’t have a jointer.

1st – For the two straight posts I am planning at glueing two 2×4s and cutting them down to a 3”x3”. Is this strong enough?

2nd – For the two front angled posts I am planning glueing two 2×6s and either running them straight or splitting them to make the bottom straight and run the top bed post at an angle. Is this strong enough?

3rd – For the top bed (twin bed) I am planning at using a 1×8 and on the inside of the bed I am looking at glueing a 2”x2” which will hold 1×4s as bed slats to sit on and hold the mattress. Is the 1×8 strong enough?

4th – For the botttom bed (full size) I am looking at using either a 2×6 or a 2×8 and on the inside of it glue a 2’x2” which will hold 2×4s as bed slats to sit on and hold the mattress. What would be more suitable the 2×6 or 2×8?

Incase you are going to ask I plan cutting a motise in the bed posts and a tennon on the 1×8 and the 2×6 or 2×8. Between the bed posts I am planning on putting two 1×4s horizontal, using mortise and tennon joinery, with a dado cut between the 1×4s to install 1×4s verticle with a 45 degree chamfer between the verticle boards.

Advice will be appricaite and as I make this I will try to take and post photos, THANKS!!

6 replies so far

View Mike's profile


409 posts in 3693 days

#1 posted 09-04-2015 03:32 PM

It isn’t the wood that isn’t strong enough, it’s the construction. With enough glue and fasteners even tooth picks will make a bridge a tank can drive over.

-- look Ma! I still got all eleven of my fingers! - -

View Nicky's profile


709 posts in 5097 days

#2 posted 09-04-2015 04:24 PM

The first set i made (30+ years ago) for my boys were from 2 x lumber, milled at the shop. Essentially two twin beds that stacked. We still have one at home in the guest room, the other in use at my sons home for our grandchild. At the time, budget drove the choice in materials. I’ve made a few more over the years for friends and family using oak, ash, maple and pine.

As Mike said, its the construction.

You’ll have to weigh the options. What do you like?

-- Nicky

View HokieKen's profile


16631 posts in 2144 days

#3 posted 09-04-2015 04:58 PM

The construction is definitely key here. But for something like the second picture, where the 2 beds separate, design is a big consideration too. For traditional bunkbeds, it’s just a matter of enough strength to hold everything “up”. With angled front posts though, you have forces working down and out so it’s not just holding the weight “up” but it’s also keeping it all together to keep the front from wanting to splay out. So, for the crossmembers, 1*4’s should have plenty of strength (assuming they’re solid w/ no splits or cracks) but the joints are going to bear a good deal of the load. Mortise & tenon is a good joint for strength considering the vertical load but I’d make certain to pin them with hefty dowels or draw-bore or bolt them.

For your questions: 3X3 laminated from 2X lumber is plenty strong for the vertical posts. For the angled posts, I would stick with a single 2X6 unless you just want to double them for appearance. Like I said, the key to holding the load there is going to be in the joints more so than the members. 2X6 is plenty strong for the matress panel on the bottom bed. Bed slats are normally 1X4. 2X4’s is a bit overkill but won’t hurt anything.

The last thing I’d suggest is that if you decide to split the front posts with the top angled and the bottom vertical, I’d definitely double dowel the joint. That joint’s probably going to be the one taking the most load.

Very cool project for you and your son. Make sure and show us some pics when you get it done!

-- I collect hobbies. There is no sense in limiting yourself (Don W) - - - - - - - - Kenny in SW VA

View MrRon's profile


5993 posts in 4249 days

#4 posted 09-04-2015 05:00 PM

2x common lumber is fine, since they are usually rustic in appearance. A coat of shellac will give a nice finish.

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 4748 days

#5 posted 09-04-2015 06:02 PM

You might want to consider laminating 2 2X4’s instead of getting 4X4’s as the lamination will tend to stay straighter – - which seems to be the plan.

I think 3X3 is ‘strong enough – -

Don’t know how old your kid is – but get him to help you out – the two of you will remember it forever.

I would lean towards the bottom picture – where you can take off the top bunk. And storage in a boys room is always necessary – - you can have a drawer like that that can be organized (or at least well hidden) – or just let him shove everything under the bed to be ‘out of sight out of mind’

yeah I have two boys

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6395 posts in 3315 days

#6 posted 09-04-2015 09:50 PM

My concern would be if common 2 by construction lumber is going to be dry enough for furniture??

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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