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Frame and Finish a Sleeping Loft

Step 5: A Nonpolitical Platform

With the ladder attached, turn your attention to the sleepers that support the plywood platform. Cut the sleepers to length, using a 30° bevel on sides that are visible, and attach.

Use the formula described earlier to locate the inside sleepers, with a maximum gap of 20".

If the frame is square, cut the plywood 14" shorter in each dimension than the frame, so it will slip into place without jamming. If the frame is not square (because you built in a nonsquare corner), allow more leeway, or custom-fit to the actual frame shape: Find a square corner, using a 3-4-5 triangle (as explained Build a Stud Wall and Fasten Drywall). Measure the two legs of the 3-4-5 triangle, and mark what you have found on the plywood. Measure the other two frame sides, and the diagonals. Use these measurements to mark and cut the plywood.

Screw the platform to the sleepers with 112" screws, placed about 8" apart.

Step 6: Finish Up

With the platform complete, it's time to deal with safety and appearance.

Make the Guardrail

Start with the guardrail, which is generally only needed along the long side of the bed. (Although it's hard to fall off the end of a bed, you certainly can put guardrails there if you want.) For the sake of appearance, cut 30° bevels on each end of the guardrail uprights.

Center the guardrail uprights on the center sleepers, and fasten with three 2 12" screws.

Take care to hold the upright vertical while fastening, and place the screws in a regular pattern, because they will be visible.

Select strong, straight, fairly knot-free pieces for the guardrails. Hold the pieces in place, centered on the uprights. Choose lengths and spacing that will please your eye and prevent anyone from falling out of bed. Mark the uprights where they cross the guardrails. Remove the uprights, cut 12" deep dadoes, and replace.

Trim Time

Trimming the frame is optional, but gives a big boost in appearance. We used cedar, but any attractive wood would work. The face trim should extend at least 1" above the frame side, to cover the top trim that you will soon attach.

Attach trim with 6d finishing nails.

The top trim is 1 × 2, cut to fit and nailed to the top of the frame. Note the angle on the frame end, used because the ladder is at the end.

And with that, you're about done. Check that all the screws are tight, sandpaper any rough spots, and paint or stain as desired.

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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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