My work days are taken up writing code. Or staring at others’ code wondering what they were trying to achieve. The stuff I’ve been doing at work hasn’t been very exciting recently and I figured I needed a new project at home. So I built a bed. It’s more of a futon base than a bed as pictured by most people. But I’ve been on futons since forever (apart from the year in Europe which had a lot of trains, ferries, a park bench and a few mountain huts, and the year at my parents’ which was a sofa bed) and I got some cool tatami mats so I based the design around them.
I started out with the idea that it should be able to be dismantled without too much fuss. I’m not planning on moving any time soon but I don’t want to have to leave it here when I go. To that end I have not used any nails, and the pieces that are glued together are each transportable in my car.
For a sturdy base I have 6 interlocking beams. I made the notches using a scheme from my dad. I cut two vertical lines in the beams where I wanted the wood removed and then chiseled the block out with a few taps on each side. It required a bit of filing and sanding to get smooth fit but it didn’t take long and the beams fit together well.
Initially I was only going to have horizontal planks around the outside but I change to having vertical ones too to hide the beams and make the whole structure look more solid. That meant that i had to have support for the top planks that kept them the same height from the floor as the width of the side planks.
To do this I used some off cuts of the first planks I bought (which were the wrong width) and some thicker blocks. The support blocks hold the side planks off the floor by only a millimeter or two which is enough to be cushioned by carpet and mean the sides actually provide some support for the tops.
I borrowed some clamps and used some fairly regular PVA type wood glue, then reinforced the joints with a 2x2cm stick that was glued too. I decided against nails because I really didn’t want to risk splitting the wood or having a nail sticking out somewhere. This is very much a barefoot bed. So that the edges can be removed easily I used some dowel pegs with matching holes in the support beams and the blocks that hold up the planks. I placed the blocks on the beams and drilled through them to make sure they lined up and held the main boards firmly.
The main boards are actually internal doors. Luckily the tatami mats exactly match the dimensions 1980x760mm.
With the blocks in place I had to secure the plank pieces while the glue dried, for this I made use of a number of heavy text books and travel guides I’ve picked up along the way. At this point I began to notice that the beams have warped upwards and the planks no longer sit so well on the carpet.
The planks around the outside are 180mm wide and with the two doors in the center the final foot print is 1880x2340mm.
The planks were cut pretty accurately by a guy at Placemakers in Wairau park, where as the beams, which didn’t need to be very precise because the ends are hidden were a rush job by a kid at Bunnings Warehouse. He was drinking a V and seemed to be a bit hungover which didn’t fill me with confidence when he started wielding the power saw.
I haven’t added up the total cost yet, I’ll have to dig through a pile of receipts. Plus I still need to varnish the visible wood. The futon was from TradeMe which is New Zealand’s version of eBay, and I added a bambo plant and a net of lights to my window to finish the room. A job well done I think.