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Frame and Finish a Sleeping Loft

Bolt to the Wall

With the frame fully assembled, bolt it to the studs. I placed two lag bolts per stud near the ends, and one per stud elsewhere. Get two assistants to hold the frame while you place some bolts. Then clamp a temporary post or two to the frame until the ladder is attached.

Step 4: Make the Ladder

With the frame complete and attached, turn your attention to the ladder. Lean a ladder stringer in place, and cut to length, leaving at least 18" above the loft for a handhold while climbing. Cut both ends of the stringer so they will be horizontal once in place, so the bottom sits flat on the floor, and the top is horizontal. Now lay out the locations for equal steps (see below).

We attached the stringers to the frame end. To fasten stringers to the frame side, cut out a triangular piece from the stringers so they lie flat against the side. One side of the cutout must be vertical, and the other side horizontal.

Finding Equal Spacing

In this project, you'll need to space several building components--the ladder steps, the sleepers, and the guardrails--equally across a set distance. Here's the general rule for calculating the spacing:

  1. Measure the total rough length.

  2. Multiply the number of components (steps, in this example) times their dimension, to find the total space they will occupy.

  3. Subtract this number from the total length to find total gap space.

  4. Add 1 to the number of components to find the number of gaps between components.

  5. Divide the total gap space by the number of gaps to get the gap between the centers of the adjacent components.

  6. Add the thickness of one component to the gap to find the center-to-center dimension.

  1. Lean the stringer in position, at the chosen angle, and measure along the stringer from the top of the frame to the floor. Let's say this "rough length" is 80".

  2. Estimate the number of steps, spaced about 12" apart: For an 80" stringer, let's check out 6 steps. So, 6 steps X 1 12" per step = 9" taken up by steps.

  3. Subtract from the rough length to find the total gap space: 80" = 9" = 71".

  4. 6 steps + 1 = 7 gaps.

  5. Total gap space / number of gaps = dimension of 1 gap: 71" / 7 = 1017" (10 18" is close enough).

  6. Gap + thickness of 1 step = center-to-center measurement: 10 18"+ 1 12" = 11 58", close enough to the 12" center-to-center spacing on standard ladders.

This method will also find the spacing of the sleepers and guardrail uprights, used later in this project.

Next: The steps >>

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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