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Frame and Finish a Sleeping Loft

Angling for an Angle

To find the angle for the ladder stringers, brace a 2 × 6 in horizontal position and lean a second 2 × 6 next to it, as shown, until the angle will be comfortable to climb, but won't stick too far into the room. Or use 12°, as we did. You will use this angle to make the stringers. If you attach the ladder at the end, attach the frame end at this angle so the stringers bolt flat against it.

Step 3: Build the Frame

Draw horizontal lines marking the bottom of the frame on the walls, and find the studs. (If you drill for studs just above the line, you won't need to repair the wall.) Studs are usually located 16" on center. Mark every stud just below the frame line. As noted, you may have to adjust the size or position of the loft to get the corners within 8" of the studs, for support purposes.

The frame ends should be about 3" inches longer than the mattress width.

To find the frame side length, measure your mattress and proceed according to the ladder position:

If the ladder will attach to a frame side, add 6" to the mattress length and cut both ends of the frame sides square.

If the ladder will attach to the frame end , add 12" to the mattress length. Bolt the frame end between the frame sides at the stringer angle (12° in our example).

Bolt the Frame

"Lag bolt" rhymes with "drag bolt," and for good reason. To use them right, use two or three drill bits. For 38" lag bolts, use these sizes in order:

  1. A flat-bottomed bit for countersinking, such as the 78" Speedbor bit, lets the bolt head rest below the surface. You may countersink other bolts to hide the bolt head and help the bolt get a deeper bite in the wood, but it's only necessary where the frame must sit flat to the wall.

  2. A 38" bit lets the lag bolt slip through the piece you're attaching. (The bolt doesn't need to thread into the upper piece.)

  3. A 516" bit drills into the stud.

When you're done swapping these bits in and out of the chuck, you'll realize the virtues of the assembly line: Try to drill several holes before changing the bit.

Studs aren't always exactly where you expect. If you miss a stud, don't drill a big new countersink. Try drilling at an angle through the countersink; you'll often reach the elusive stud.

This project depends on lag bolts, and it's up to you to make sure they are strong. Do not bolt into knots, or so near the edge that you will split the frame. While driving the bolts, make sure they get a strong grab. Tighten firmly, but do not strip the threads. If you're not sure the attachment is sound, add another bolt or use a slightly longer one.

With the frame parts cut, assemble it with two lag bolts at each frame corner. Check that all joints are square as you build. To place bolts along a side that will rest flush to the wall, drill 78" countersinks in the wall face of the frame side. (This recess allows the frame to rest against the wall.) See the sidebar for other suggestions on using lag bolts.

Countersinks allow the side to rest tight to the wall. A socket wrench drives a lag bolt that attaches the frame end to the frame side. This face of the frame side goes against the wall.

Next: The ladder >>

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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