Child’s Loft Bed, Session 1 – The Quest for Perfect Legs

My next project is a commissioned loft bed for a child.  It has a set of stairs up to the bed on one side and a slide down from the other side.  There will be drawers in the side of the stair case and the top will be draped with cloth to complete the canopy.



I documented my progress live on Twitter which was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.

(If you are not familiar with the format used on Twitter, every update, or “tweet” below starts with a username, being the author of that tweet.  Sometimes, you see two or more usernames in a tweet.  The second (and third, etc) usernames are preceded by a @ symbol and are people to whom the author is talking.  The other symbol you see is #, which serves as a category.  I try to remember to categorize all my tweets pertaining to this project under #flairww.)

FlairWoodworks This new project is a loft bed for a child. For once I created a CAD drawing, to convey my intentions to the client. #flairww -2:30 PM Jul 21st, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks are you making this from maple slabs!? -4:15 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Old growth Douglas fir. #flairww -4:15 PM Jul 21st, 2012

josh_ulloa Awesome. I think more adult beds should have slides :) -4:47 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @josh_ulloa It would make it easier to get out of bed, wouldn’t it? #flairww -4:49 PM Jul 21st, 2012

josh_ulloa And more fun! #flairww -5:19 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy and poles!… RT @josh_ulloa: @FlairWoodworks Awesome. I think more adult beds should have slides :) -6:30 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks FlairWoodworks: Why poles? -6:32 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Like a fire station -6:45 PM Jul 21st, 2012

josh_ulloa @HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Yep, like a fire station ;) -9:24 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy The ladies like fire stations :) -9:25 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The clients have given me complete creative license and trust me to make something amazing. It won’t be too crazy, but still fun. #flairww -2:31 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @ravinheart is also building a loft bed. Mine is cooler though :) #flairww -2:32 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The process for this loft bed is very different from what is normal for me, but probably normal for most woodworkers. #flairww -3:00 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I started with a drawing (CAD – computer-aided design, in this case) and am working on a cut-list now. #flairww -3:03 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve got a cut list for the bed frame, which I’ll build first. The stairs and slide will be separate, detachable parts.  The top will be covered with fabric for a canopy. #flairww -3:19 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I was provided with old-growth Douglas fir for the project. Approximate size: 12’x18″x2″, each. #flairww -3:23 PM Jul 21st, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks nice lumber haul. -3:27 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks There’s more too! #flairww -3:28 PM Jul 21st, 2012

DyamiPlotke @FlairWoodworks they must have been planning to have the bed made for a while. -3:28 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @DyamiPlotke Yes, they’ve been thinking a bed for a while. We started talking a few months ago. #flairww -3:29 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Most of the stock is straight-grained and clear (free of knots), but I want to choose the best stock for the legs and rails. #flairww -3:32 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks A hand plane gives me a peek under the rough-sawn surface. #flairww -3:38 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks This board has a green stain, which I like, but it wouldn’t be good for legs. One green leg? Uh-uh. #flairww -3:51 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I think I’ll find the legs in ths stack of 3″ material. #flairww -3:57 PM Jul 21st, 2012

asliceofwood @FlairWoodworks those are some serious pieces of lumber. -4:03 PM Jul 21st, 2012

ToddInMontana @FlairWoodworks I love this image. -4:43 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @ToddInMontana Do you know why? #flairww -4:43 PM Jul 21st, 2012

ToddInMontana: @FlairWoodworks it is the “before” shot of material that will be transformed into a finished project #flairww -4:48 PM Jul 21st, 2012

Tumblewood @ToddInMontana @FlairWoodworks Is that some 4x material? What flavor?-5:22 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks That’s my picture of 12/4 (3″) Douglas fir. #flairww -5:33 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The first three thick slabs weren’t clear enough. This one looks promising. #flairww -4:07 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Planing revealed a light streak. I’ll check the two remaining thick slabs and pick the best. #flairww -4:12 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The next slab showed a similar variation. If there is enough variation for four uniform legs, I’ll use it! #flairww -4:17 PM Jul 21st, 2012

asliceofwood @FlairWoodworks that will look nice with the different colors. #flairww -4:26 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The last, thick slab has even variations across the width. I need four 55″ legs. #flairww -4:27 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I would like to hear how interested (or uninterested) you are in this more straightforward project. #flairww -4:29 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I will also be writing a magazine article for Canadian Woodworking about this project, with plans and other details. #flairww -4:31 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I use blue chalk to highlight the areas I want to avoid. #flairww-4:39 PM Jul 21st, 2012

sonicfedora @FlairWoodworks this is a great lesson. Didn’t do this on a table top and wound up with a flaw in a bad place. #flairww -8:26 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @sonicfedora I’m glad that my little comments are helpful. #flairww -8:45 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks There are other square components in the bed, so I’ll cut more “legs” than I need, and choose the best. #flairww -4:41 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks If you hesitate to jump up onto your sawhorses, I may suggest that they are underbuilt. (Or overloaded.) #flairww -4:58 PM Jul 21st, 2012

[Notice that I can safely stand on the end of the beam, 2′ from the sawhorses.  This may give you an idea of how heavy the beams are.]

FlairWoodworks I cut half an inch off the end to have a look at the end grain. I want the legs to be about 2″x2″ and rift sawn. #flairww -5:04 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The ends of boards also tend to collect sand, dirt, mud, and other nasty things you don’t want to expose to your tools. #flairww -5:05 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Rift sawn is preferable for legs because the grain on all the surfaces is straight. #flairww -5:10 PM Jul 21st, 2012

Tumblewood Damn Spanky! #flairww -5:19 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Manageable pieces is the name of the game right now. First, I’m going to cut this in half across the length. #flairww -5:17 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I rounded up my same-size saw horses to make the crosscut. I started with a circular and finished by hand. #flairww -5:32 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Inside this crack is a hidden “live edge”. I’ll break it open. #flairww -5:40 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Here are the two halves, split apart with a mallet. #flairww -5:43 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks To lay out the legs, I cut a clear plastic template. I put a piece of tape on it to make it easier to find. #flairww – 5:51 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I was pleasantly surprised that I can get four pieces from each half of the beam. Notice that the grain runs from corner to corner.  #flairww -5:59 PM Jul 21st, 2012

RareRepair @FlairWoodworks Beautiful wood, what is that again? -6:02 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @RareRepair It’s old-growth Douglas fir. #flairww -6:02 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks One of the biggest challenges this project poses is remembering to take high-quality pictures for the magazine article too. #flairww -6:01 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I screwed a straight scrap of plywood to the beam as a straight edge and tilted the table. Ready to saw! #flairww -6:28 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks To lock the table tilt, there is one lock knob on the front trunnion. I was right not to trust it. #flairww -6:30 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks This is how much the table shifted during the cut. #flairww -6:35 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Wow that was a lot of movement #flairww -6:36 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks And you can bet your last dollar I tightened that plastic star knob that locks the trunnion as tight as I could. It’s still tight. #flairww -6:36 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks Was there a handle on a gear for tilting the table? LT-18 has that; it locks the gear in place. #flairww -6:38 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @halfinchshy At the back of the saw, the large knob controls the pinion. #flairww -6:40 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks That seems beefy enough; guess the lock knob just pushes on that smooth surface… #fail #flairww -6:44 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @HalfInchShy The lock knob pulls the convex part of the trunnion into the concave part. #flairww -6:48 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Remember the half-machined trunnion that I had replaced?  I wonder if that would have worked better? #flairww -6:49 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I should have done this in the first place. Just another example of why I should trust my instincts. #flairww -6:51 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The retry worked fine. But I lost a leg in the first cut. I have to be extra careful now with the remaining cuts. #flairww -6:59 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I said it earlier and I’ll say it again – the most important tool is not one which you can hold in your hands. Use your brain. #flairww -7:00 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Oh, fun. The bandsaw table doesn’t tilt far enough to the left to make the next cut. To the right! #flairww -7:14 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Check out my fancy tilt-lock! #flairww -7:18 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I prefer left tilt because with right tilt, I need to push the 60-pound beam up against the fence and feed it through at the same time. #flairww -7:20 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks As soon as I started the saw, the vibrations caused the wedges supporting the table to come loose. #flairww -7:30 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I removed the wedges and tightened the nut on the rear trunnion with a socket. I hope it holds. #flairww -7:30 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The cut wasn’t perfectly straight but it was close.  The table didn’t move.  From now on, when I tilt the table, I’ll lock the nut too. #flairww -7:35 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I think I could have done better with a jigsaw and a guide. It would have been easier too. This is too big for a circular saw or my table saw. #flairww -7:36 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Since the sawn beams now fit to the left blade, I thought I could move the fence to the right. #flairww -7:46 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks But the Laguna Driftmaster Fence won’t slide to the right. #flairww -7:47 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks The threaded micro-adjust on the fence is very nice to have when the table is tilted like this. #flairww -8:03 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I am very happy to have the table back at 90 degrees. Now, I’ll finish cutting the legs square. #flairww -8:08 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ve got the leg blanks sawn. Next step for the legs is to joint them. #flairww -8:29 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’ll leave the legs alone for now. I’ll continue cutting out components to reduce the size of the pile in front of the jointer. #flairww -8:32 PM Jul 21st, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks and how do you plan on getting to that jointer? #flairww -8:53 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @BCcraftmaster Cutting up as much of what’s in front first, then moving what’s left. #flairww -8:54 PM Jul 21st, 2012

BCcraftmaster @FlairWoodworks as long as it has flair! #flairww -8:55 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @BCcraftmaster Of course, I’d be cutting it into bed components, not firewood! #flairww -8:55 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I could use some food so I’ll stop here for now. Overall, it was a good day. #flairww -8:34 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks There were some frustrations today, but in the end, it was a productive day. Nothing got damaged and I didn’t hurt myself. #flairww -8:34 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks I’d really like to know if you are interested in following this Tweet-Along.  #flairww -8:36 PM Jul 21st, 2012

Garth_TW2 @FlairWoodworks Thats the bed project Chris? If so, so cool, the slide particularly I’d love to see the tweet along! -8:56 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Garth_TW2 Thanks for the feedback, partner! #flairww -8:57 PM Jul 21st, 2012

luggermatt @FlairWoodworks Always interested in what you are making! :-) looks good so far! -9:06 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Thanks for the feedback, Matt. -9:06 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks Tools are away and I’m going to go get something to eat. #flairww -8:44 PM Jul 21st, 2012

Garth_TW2 @FlairWoodworks I’m sitting back here tonight trying to figure out how you are going to to pull off the build in that tiny shop of yours -9:01 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @Garth_TW2 The bed will be easier to build in the shop than the table. All the components are shorter and lighter. #flairww -9:04 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @Garth_TW2 @FlairWoodworks Thought it was all KD connectors, no?  -9:02 PM Jul 21st, 2012

HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks @Garth_TW2 Oh I forgot it’s not heavy slabs this time; instead butt particle board  #flairww -9:08 PM Jul 21st, 2012

Garth_TW2 @HalfInchShy @FlairWoodworks If he is working with particle board I am divorcing him :) -9:11 PM Jul 21st, 2012

FlairWoodworks @HalfInchShy @Garth_TW2 No butt particle board here! All old-growth Douglas fir! #flairww -9:12 PM Jul 21st, 2012

In Session 2, I will continue cutting out the components and working my way towards the jointer.

You can leave a comment here if you like.

19 thoughts on “Child’s Loft Bed, Session 1 – The Quest for Perfect Legs

  1. For what its worth, I find the progress in the pictures very interesting. However following the written comments in that format is very frustrating. May I suggest some editing here and not do the tweet thing verbatim? It would be much more satisfying to read for instance:

    FW: comment, comment, comment

    HalfInchShy: comment, comment, comment



    1. Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the feedback – I appreciate it.

      I have never been entirely happy with the Twitter format. I do like the time stamps for each comment. For this post, I reorganized the comments into “threads” grouping all the reply comments under the tweet to which they are in response and I think it makes it a little easier to follow.

      I’m not quite sure what you would like to see and I don’t understand your example, but would be interested to hear any ideas you (or anyone else) may have to improve this format.


      1. What I am getting at is it not relevant (to me anyway) to read the day, hour and minute when a post has been sent to you. Or you sending a reply for that matter Especially when there is no break from the body of the message. And also all the @ that appear before the actual comment serves no purpose. If you edit it somehow to show who it is from without all the multiple @ and skip the date stuff it would make it much easier to follow the conversation.

        Just my thoughts.



  2. This is great! i too am embarking on TWO Loft beds for my kids this week. We may have a change of plan and keep the beds low and create a play space above. But essentially the build is the same.
    I am using douglas fir for the post and pine for the sides, etc. I was going to do all pine, trying to keep the cost down, but long story short, doug fir was the bet/available option.
    I’ll certainly blog about it, and follow intently here!

  3. Chris,
    Maybe thought you would like some examples… I might do this for a living.
    On the stairs we build they go on the end of the bed and have a side so the kid won’t fall off. We also will sometimes put drawers under the stairs too.

    1. Hi Brian,

      Thanks for the link – there are lots of ideas on that page.

      Perhaps you can answer a technical question: what is the standard angle of a slide and what material would you recommend to line it?

      There will be drawers under the stairs.


      1. Chris,
        I don’t know it off hand but I can take a look at it tomorrow at work. We use melamine in a dado. It’s slick enough to slide down and the edges are hid in the dado.

        1. Chris,
          I don’t have angle numbers but if you are mathematically inclined you could easily figure it out. Our stock for the sides of the slide are 5 1/4″ wide. The top is 3 1/4″ and the bottom is 7 1/2″. So if you imagine a triangle the 5 1/4″ x 3 1/4″ the hypotenuse sits against the bed rail and the other triangle 5 1/4″ x 7 1/2″ sits on the floor… Hope that makes sense.
          Also, we use extra rails on the bottom part of the loft on the back side (two of them) to help with any racking that may occur.

  4. Very cool project! And how fun that it will be featured in a magazine, way to go! Tweet along conversations are good as I’m sure that it’s really helpful and informative for people who know about woodworking. I’m not one of those people (lol), but it’s still fun to scroll though ;)

  5. I do like the way you used a template to set out the legs; that’s not something I’d seen before. Bandsaws can be great but, when it comes to tilting beyond a few degrees, they can be very challenging to use.

    If your table can lock positively at 90° then, another approach might be to fix ‘packers’ underneath the board? Thin strips of ply or even solid wood, that offer the wood to the blade at an angle. I’m sure you get what I mean. :-)

    I used to work for a company who had a small bandsaw with a table that didn’t lock securely and we used to wedge a length of wood (3x1in seemed adequate) between the top surface of the table and the underside of the top wheel housing. It sounds crude but, it did work!

    1. Olly,

      I use clear plastic for all sorts of layout templates. It is very useful and easy to work.

      For cutting bevels, I’ve attached a cleat to the underside of a board and run it through the planer. I think that some sort of sled (or cleat) would have been easier on the bandsaw. Good idea, and thanks for getting me thinking.

      I wonder what a bandsaw would look like where the table remained horizontal and the blade tilted…


I would be delighted if you left a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s