Bunk bed design - thoughts wanted

(Peter F) #1

Hi, I’m going to make a bunk bed and was hoping for a some advice regarding my joints and any other glaring mistakes in the design.

Make a bunk bed where the top bunk is as low as possible (so that comforting child at top & making bed is easier) while still allowing some breathabillity under bottom mattress. Don’t want to see fixings on the outside.

Are butt joints with pocket holes and little wooden dowels strong enough? Should I be doing mortice & tenon? Will the end sections be rigid enough
Does it look strong enough?
Are the guard rails strong enough 50x20x1820mm?
Ideas for kind of wood? strong, bit more interesting than pine , not too expensive.
Anything else wrong?


Main Posts are 100x100mm
Height of guard rail is 1370mm = good
Head room for bottom bunk is 707mm = not great but ok for now (child currently needs 600mm)

Bed will able to be broken down into 2 ends, side rails, ladder, slats and guard rails.
Each step on ladder is 285mm

Side rails are 150x25mm glued and screwed to 38x38mm
Side rails will sit on slots into the posts of 25x65mm.

Thanks for any feedback or advice

(Tom Newsom) #2

That looks decently rigid to me. Plenty of deep section members.

As for headroom, have you given any thought to a partial overlap design? Lower child can just have their legs under the top deck. Means you can reduce the overall height even more, while allowing bottom child to sit up properly. The remaining under part can be toy storage/den.

(Peter F) #3

Thanks Tom,

Ideally I would have an overlap /right angle design of bunk but it won’t work in the room (unless I move a radiator) ,so I’m stuck with this style.

In an ideal world I would do mortice and tenon joints but I’ve never done them before and I think pocket holes will be quicker. I think the wood is chunky enough, it’s just whether the end sections (2 posts and 4 cross pieces) will be rigid enough using pocket holes and glue?

(Callum Harris) #4

So I made a bed last year, and I used pocket holes and dowels for the short edges, with lots off glue to keep them strong.
For the long sides bought some specific bed hardware from rockler. (Link at the end) Though are definitely UK options. I followed this route mainly because I know I’m going to move house and would have to take the bed apart. If you’re not planning on moving it then pocket holes and screws should be strong enough, but the glue and screws will work themselves loose over time, just with the movement of the bed.

Your side rails should be strong enough, though maybe slightly flexible on the long edges, but if they’re against the wall that shouldn’t matter.

I used white oak personally, but that was a bit pricey. It’s plenty strong though.

Hope that’s helpful!


(Peter F) #5

Thanks Callum,

What head room did you go for, for the bottom bunk? I’m worried that youngest will grow out of it in a couple of years as I’ve only left 707mm from bottom mattress to top bunk (probably a bit more than that when the mattress is being compressed).

(Callum Harris) #6

I didn’t actually make a bunk bed, I made a double bed, but personally i think the bottom bunk should have enough space for an adult to sit/slouch in there for story time and stuff. And if you can sit in there comfortably, it’s unlikely that your child will get taller than you while they’re still using it.

Also just a thought, on the drawing, it looks like the headroom measurement is from the top of the mattress to the underside of the top rail, not the bottom of the slats, so that would give you an extra 38mm on the 707mm I think.