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Forum topic by Koogle posted 05-18-2018 10:10 AM 641 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Koogle

13 posts in 1376 days


05-18-2018 10:10 AM

Hello, I have been tasked with designing and building bunk beds for my two grandsons, aged 5 and 2. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on poplar as a wood choice. (Yes, it would be painted.)

I’m thinking 3×3 posts and true 1×5 rails with a full plywood deck. (Too many memories of my brothers kicking at me from the bottom bunk!)

Would poplar stand up? Is there a better wood that won’t break the bank? Besides being cheap-ish, I also love how easy poplar is to work with. I appreciate your input.

And also, what if I made the rails from planed down 1×5’s to about 3/4×5? (The mill has low stock of 5/4.) Hickory is a similar price, but I’ve never worked with it and worry it would too knotty.

Thanks!


15 replies so far

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robscastle

6223 posts in 2620 days


#1 posted 05-18-2018 10:56 AM

Ikea comes to mind

-- Regards Rob

View Jeff's profile

Jeff

507 posts in 3610 days


#2 posted 05-18-2018 11:11 AM

Southern yellow pine is easy to work with, strong, cheap (available at the big box stores) and if finished naturally, looks great. It will bump and dent over time but that just shows the love your grandkids put back into it.

View Koogle's profile

Koogle

13 posts in 1376 days


#3 posted 05-18-2018 11:20 AM

Wow, so I just looked up how long kids sleep in bunk beds and discovered kids under six shouldn’t even be in a bunk bed! I guess I’m going to put the brakes on this project.

View Blindhog's profile

Blindhog

124 posts in 1465 days


#4 posted 05-18-2018 01:21 PM

I used poplar and MDF for the beds I made for the grandkids; you can see in my projects. They were 4 and 6 when I built them and they really love them.
I chose poplar for the ease of working, nearly clear wood makes it a LOT less prep work before and during painting and is structurally sound and will last.

-- Don't let perfection get in the way of plenty good enough

View Walker's profile

Walker

159 posts in 888 days


#5 posted 05-18-2018 03:41 PM



Wow, so I just looked up how long kids sleep in bunk beds and discovered kids under six shouldn t even be in a bunk bed! I guess I m going to put the brakes on this project.

- Koogle

How about a Trundle bed instead then?

-- ~Walker

View Ocelot's profile

Ocelot

2263 posts in 3054 days


#6 posted 05-18-2018 03:49 PM

I wouldn’t give up so soon.

It’s only the upper bunk that is a concern. Younger kids fall out of bed more. The older child should sleep in the top bunk.

With good safety rails, it should be OK. 5 is almost 6 and if you are as slow as me, he might be 8 before the dang thing is done! You need rails on both sides (the wall side too), since one of the injury modes is falling off the wall side and getting hung since the head is the largest part of kids that age.

I’m planning bunk beds too. If there is limited space (small room) you might even consider what I’m doing – using a European “youth bed” sized mattress – which is 25% smaller than a twin and should be good enough to get them up to age 11 or so – 63” long by 31.5” wide. You have to make your own sheets, but my wife already took care of that.

I ordered them from England for what I consider a reasonable price. They call it 160×80cm. It’s a little hard to find, which is to say that 4 out of 5 eBay sellers of European mattresses don’t carry that size. ( A more common size is 160×70cm which is 4” narrower to save even more space.)

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Baby-Toddler-Cot-Bed-Breathable-QUILTED-AND-WATERPROOF-Foam-Mattress-All-Sizes-/161856916384?var=&hash=item25af6c8ba0

-Paul

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Ocelot

2263 posts in 3054 days


#7 posted 05-18-2018 03:58 PM

As for wood, I would use cherry and not paint it but that’s just me. If you are going to paint it, Pine is fine. One thing about construction lumber is that it is sold with a higher moisture content than hardwoods – so you need to be aware of shrinkage potential.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12842 posts in 2796 days


#8 posted 05-18-2018 03:59 PM

Poplar is fine. I would look for straight grained pieces and avoid runout. The design is more important than the wood or even size of the wood. I’ve seen bunks built from bolted 2x material that were rickity.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View 000's profile

000

2859 posts in 1315 days


#9 posted 05-18-2018 04:09 PM

This is all Poplar except for the trundle bed front.

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

6265 posts in 2682 days


#10 posted 05-18-2018 04:27 PM

Red Beech, stronger that poplar and takes paint just as well. Also it is inexpensive.

View dschlic1's profile (online now)

dschlic1

452 posts in 2386 days


#11 posted 05-18-2018 05:03 PM

Jay Bates (YouTube) built some beds and dressers out of dimensional lumber. Looked great!

View Koogle's profile

Koogle

13 posts in 1376 days


#12 posted 05-19-2018 02:02 PM

Very nice!


This is all Poplar except for the trundle bed front.

- jbay


View Koogle's profile

Koogle

13 posts in 1376 days


#13 posted 05-19-2018 02:09 PM

I know what you mean about slow – the bookcase I made for my oldest grandson took two years! (With a lot of honey-do’s in between.)

Your’e right about safety rails, but my oldest just turned 5 this month and he’s a small five, so I’m more than a little concerned. Also, I know his little brother (2 years old in late June) will be up there and they don;t always get along, so it’s not hard for me to picture him getting pitched off over the side.

I saw a stat of 30,000 injuries in the US every year from bunk beds. My wife said that didn’t sound like a lot. I said, when you consider how many kids there are of bunk bed age, and then divide that number by half for those in the top bunk, 30,000 doesn’t sound so small anymore. But then, I tend to worry.

It’s a shame because I had a great idea for the beds… I’m going to see my son and his wife tomorrow and talk with them about it.


I wouldn t give up so soon.

It s only the upper bunk that is a concern. Younger kids fall out of bed more. The older child should sleep in the top bunk.

With good safety rails, it should be OK. 5 is almost 6 and if you are as slow as me, he might be 8 before the dang thing is done! You need rails on both sides (the wall side too), since one of the injury modes is falling off the wall side and getting hung since the head is the largest part of kids that age.

I m planning bunk beds too. If there is limited space (small room) you might even consider what I m doing – using a European “youth bed” sized mattress – which is 25% smaller than a twin and should be good enough to get them up to age 11 or so – 63” long by 31.5” wide. You have to make your own sheets, but my wife already took care of that.

I ordered them from England for what I consider a reasonable price. They call it 160×80cm. It s a little hard to find, which is to say that 4 out of 5 eBay sellers of European mattresses don t carry that size. ( A more common size is 160×70cm which is 4” narrower to save even more space.)

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Baby-Toddler-Cot-Bed-Breathable-QUILTED-AND-WATERPROOF-Foam-Mattress-All-Sizes-/161856916384?var=&hash=item25af6c8ba0

-Paul

- Ocelot


View Koogle's profile

Koogle

13 posts in 1376 days


#14 posted 05-19-2018 02:10 PM

I haven’t seen red beech here in Ohio.


Red Beech, stronger that poplar and takes paint just as well. Also it is inexpensive.

- BurlyBob


View sras's profile

sras

5108 posts in 3545 days


#15 posted 05-19-2018 03:29 PM

Poplar would be fine. It sands well and takes paint very evenly. It is strong enough – even though there are stronger options.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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