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Building An Industrial Styled Loft And Study

Tasmin Paul / small / 31 January 2022, 03:06:20
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I really wanted to create a space that I could comfortably work from, with plenty of desk drawer and cabinet space, but also keep the spare bed for when I have visitors. And of course, I needed this to feel good for me. I'm a big fan of dark timber and black metal, put together in an industrial warehouse kind of style.

So once I'd settled on a design and calculated exactly how much timber I'd need, I took a trip to a timber supplier in Western Sydney Blacktown Building Supplies), and chose a selection of finger-jointed Merbau. Merbau is a hard and heavy timber often used in outdoor fencing and decking. For the for bed posts I went with 1.8 metre lengths of 90 by 90 millimeter thickness, and everything else was 90 by 45. The total size of the platform is going to be just a bit larger than a king single bed, which is about 2 by 1.2 meters. So; Day 1, time to convert my balcony into a wood shop with a $150 Bunnings mitre saw.

I don't think my fish will enjoy sawdust any more than I will. Safety first. Now I'm starting with the loft bed, cutting the posts and the bearers. The next step was to trench-cut the top of the posts so that the bearers would slot into the trench. I did this using about a dozen parallel cuts at the top of each post, and then chiseled out the remaining wood until it was smooth.

I 3-D printed a jig to make sure that my drill holes were all straight and consistent. And because some of these would be pressed up against the wall I used a spade bit to recess the bolt heads. From here I lined up the bearers with the posts, and fastened them together with coach screws. and now it was time to turn the frame upside down to work on the inside. For some reason at this point I decided not to be wearing any shoes, which is quite a miracle I didn't get a foot full of splinters.

So here I'm propping the frame slightly off the ground so I can position the inside bearer. This is the piece of timber which will be supporting all of the slats so it needed to be very firmly attached. I drilled some pilot holes before I applied the glue, and then screwed them firmly together. I spaced out the screws so that each one was directly under a slat. I also put a few small angled brackets between the slats just to reinforce the join.

The next step was to cut some spacers to position the slats evenly across the bed, and to hold them in place. I had to chisel out a little gap in some of them to allow for the brackets that I've made earlier. And then glue them in place. So once this was done it was time to assemble the outside frame. And these are actually a lot heavier than they look should've worn shoes.

And by this time it was a little bit late for drilling so I had to wait till the next day to bolt it all together. And of course make sure that the legs are all at 90 degrees. I attached a set of L-shaped brackets to each of the corners to stop the whole structure from simply shearing sideways and collapsing. And quick strength test. all feeling good but certainly not stable yet.

So, time to add the mid-beams using the same jig and Spade bit. I needed extra long coach screws for this join to get through the post and once again secured them with L brackets to prevent shearing. It was at this point that I learned my floor was in fact slightly sloped, so I had to compromise a little bit on the angle of the side beams. Which of course had to be black. Now I still wasn't very happy with the amount of forward and back rocking, so I really needed to add some triangle shapes to make the whole structure more rigid.

OK, time for a road trip to Taren Point in South Sydney where a gentleman named Lee runs a business making small pieces of furniture from steel piping. I brought in my design and he fetched all the pieces for me and kindly assembled it in front of me. I also learned that having a pipe loop is a bit of a problem because by tightening one end you're loosening the other. So he gave me a special piece to close the loop which I'm certainly glad he did. OK back at home, a $4 can of black spray paint and an old bed sheet.

And the next morning time to position it and secure it onto the front bearer. And as much as I love baby pink, I thought while I put the spray paint out I might as well paint the slats black as well. And delivery day! This is a 3.6-metre long piece of finger jointed Merbau, which I had to shorten to 3.4-metres. This coincidentally being the length of the room but also the maximum length that would fit up the stairs of my building. all eight floors.

and once again, this is definitely heavier than it looks. So this hasn't all been done in the best order, I hadn't yet made the desk supports, so the desk at this point is just resting on the cabinets. And I still need to access the back of the loft to secure the mid beam and add more L-brackets. And I'm still not happy with the stability of the structure so instead of more triangles I thought I'd place one large piece of plywood on the entire rear face, above the middle beam, and fasten it to the frame at multiple points. This should prevent any further left/right shearing and make the whole structure feel a lot more stable.

And that was certainly a success, moving the bed here felt like I was moving one solid piece of furniture. So as far as I could tell now, the only weak points for the front legs any sideways force on the front could technically cause the front legs to act as a kind of crowbar on the top corner joints. So to be safe I attached two final triangle brackets to the front face to prevent this from happening. OK time to experiment with some stains. My main concern was the orange-ness of the timber.

I visited a craft shop and bought a cheap tube of blue watercolour. blue being the opposite of orange. I thought it might have been a silly idea but after a bit of trial and error I found that the right mix did actually reduce the orange hue of the timber while still preserving its rich grain. So time to sand the edges of the desk, and apply coat number one; a mixture of a walnut stain and blue water colour. and now coat #2, which is mostly just blue.

And now the same for the loft. Once again I probably could have done this before as well assembled and been quite a lot easier. We're nearly done time to join two pieces of timber together to create a shelf this won't be a very strong joint but it will be reinforced from underneath. Sorry neighbors. it's only 8:30 though.

and sand and stain again Now the front half of this shelf will be resting on the disk and the rear half will be on legs to the ground, so for the front I thought I'd use more of the cheap steel pipe which I really do like the look of. Now for the desk support I really wanted to avoid having a leg in the middle of the desk, but I wasn't too sure how much the desk would sag in the middle. And as it turned out, it did sag quite a bit. Maybe just a few millimeters, but that was enough to lift the rear corners of the desk off the supports. So I needed to fasten the supports to the desk and create cantilevers to prevent any further sagging or bowing in the middle.

And here's my daily visitors checking on my progress which is very thoughtful of them! Now these legs I salvaged from an old IKEA bed and I fastened them to the underside of the shelf and I ended up using a hollow timber door to support the rear edge of the desk and to attach the cantilevers. OK final step; making the ladder. After getting hold of some Tasmanian oak timber I placed the lengths up against the bed at an angle that seemed about right, and I measured both the length of the ladder, as well as the height off the ground of the point that the ladder would hook onto the rail, so I could calculate the angle that the ladder would sit. Time to think back to high school maths..sine is hypotenuse.

opposite! opposite on hypotenuse. and solve for X OK, it's about 70 degrees, so I needed to set the angle of the Mitre saw to 20 degrees, and cut the legs and spacers all that exactly the same angle. Once I'd done this I secured the spacers evenly up the ladder with glue and screws. I sanded all of the sharp edges to give it more of a friendly feel, and did my best to hide the screw heads. I sketched the design of how the ladder would hook onto the rail, and printed off a stencil so I could transfer it easily onto the ladder.

At this point I recalculated all of the lengths, because I didn't quite trust the angle of the Ozito power saw. And it was in fact a couple of centimeters off. I used a hole saw and a jig saw to cut out the shape OK, after a final sand and stain it was time to assemble it with the treads. I got some cheap treated pine and cut it into 35 centimeter lengths, and painted it black to match everything else. I slotted them in between the spacers and secured them with one coach screw on each side.

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