Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Make your own bed

By Justin Newcombe

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Justin Newcombe made a bed for his guest room with some decking and ingenuity

Justin used decking to make his bed. Photo / Natalie Slade
Justin used decking to make his bed. Photo / Natalie Slade

Families can be transient during summer, moving from one relative to the next, sharing a meal and some stories from the good old days. I like having people to stay, but because we live in a small house all we've been able to offer in the way of a guest room is a couple of squabs on the lounge floor. When I was in my 20s, dossing down seemed just fine, but now I'm in my 40s, this is beginning to seem a little inadequate. I had a cousin stay last year and he had just ridden the Wellington to Auckland Cycle Classic, so I did feel a bit bad that I'd managed to give him his least salubrious lodgings.

Coinciding with my desire to provide a comfortable stay for my guests, I had materials left over from the deck I'd just finished. So I've vacated my office (which is in a garage we lined a few years ago) to turn it into guest lodgings.

The first thing I did, after I cleared it out, was construct a bed. Because I've used decking, it's a slat bed. I used the squabs as a guide for size, which means I've essentially joined two single beds together. I thought that was logical when I started, but as it turns out, that makes for a massive bed.

So my first bit of advice is to figure out how big a mattress, sheets and blankets you're using and build it to that.

This design is also easy to adapt to two single beds. Best of all, it was only about a four-hour project. I've painted the structural part of the bed, made out of the leftover decking materials, and wrapped it in a 20mm thick, 300mm wide piece of marine ply, which I had cut for me at Bunnings.

The legs are made from sleeper offcuts, which give quite a chunky look. Even though it's a bit on the big side, I'm really pleased with how it looks. Best of all, my guests assure me it is comfortable.

That means they'll probably all be back next year.

Step 1: Measure and cut the structure of the bed. I've used 100x50mm pine for this. I measured the length and the width of the bed, but because I want to be able to pack the bed down, if I need to, I've divided the width of the bed in half. This makes sense, because the bed needs a support running lengthways through the middle of it. By dividing the width in half, building two narrower sections and joining them together with bolts, I achieved this.

Step 2: Assemble the bed framing structure and screw or nail together. Add a brace in each corner to increase stability. Paint both sections and leave to dry.

Step 3: Bolt the two narrow sections together to form the main structure. Place it face down on top of a set of 50mm blocks in each corner. The blocks ensure you end up with the plywood side panels sitting higher than the frame, to give a much tidier finish once the slats are inserted. It also makes a small lip, to help keep the mattress in place.

Step 4: Measure and cut the 20mm plywood side panels to length. Sit each one flush on the floor and screw to the frame using batten screws.

Step 5: Cut sleepers into four legs, between 300mm and 400mm long (depending on how high you want the bed to sit). Mine are 350mm long. Sit each leg in the corner of the bed and screw to the side panel using batten screws.

Step 6: Turn the bed over and measure and cut the decking slats. If you are buying materials to build the bed, you might be able to find a cheaper alternative to decking. Paint the slats. When they have dried, screw the slats to the frame.

- NZ Herald

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