The Jungle Gym Bunk Beds

Jungle Gym Main

Normally when someone commissions a piece from me, it is implied that the aesthetic appeal is of equal, if not greater importance than its functionality. In this case, however, the message was clear: these beds were for boys who would put them through trench warfare. They had to be strong first, and handsome second. With the aid of a little creativity and total design freedom, I was able to come up with a solution that I feel blends form and function quite well…though these beds are just about bomb-proof.

“This bunk bed is the sturdiest we have ever seen.  Even our rambunctious monkeys won’t be able to do damage to it, and that’s saying a lot.  The look is just what we were after: function first, heavy planks, sturdy connections, and the color is spot on.  Nothing about the look says “little kid,” so these beds, when taken apart, will go off to college in a decade.  I suspect, since they’re never going to wear out, that they’ll wind up in a guest room or even bunking our grandkids in the (distant) future.”

Jungle Gym 2Made of solid Poplar harvested from Lancaster county and stained Cherry in color, these beds were given the extra treatment when it came to strength. The legs of the beds are made of 4x4s and joined to the headboard and footboard with mortise and double tenon construction.

Where the side rails meet the headboard and footboard, high strength, cast iron bed rail fasteners were used. Due to their tapered design, the more the rails are pushed down over time, the stronger the joint will become. At the same time, they can be disassembled with the use of a simple mallet to ease the moving process.

The beds join to each other with the use of 4 steel pins 1/2″ in diameter that have been inserted over 2″ deep into the legs.  In addition, there are 2 cast iron mending plates screwed into each leg to keep racking pressure to a minimum.

Jungle Gym 1

Each bed also has a solid plywood bottom, screwed all the way around the frame into each bed rail. This extra strength essentially takes every last bit of movement out of the frame. These beds are rock solid. Underneath each piece of plywood are “T-frame” mattress supports which will prevent any sagging in the plywood for the life of the piece. A fully grown adult could literally do jumping jacks on these beds with no issue at all (I know this because I tried it in the shop).

Finally, a ladder and safety rail have been installed to allow entry and prevent unintentional exit from the top bunk. Both of these elements are screwed into place but are also fully removable should the beds ever be separated. If this were the case, the unit could be taken apart to be used as two identical single beds.

All in all, this project fit the bill safety wise and also aesthetically. Though, I am informed that the occupant of the upper bunk has taken to flipping heels over head out of bed in the morning by grabbing onto the safety rail and flinging himself over the side. At least I know the bed can handle it. As for his parents’ nerves, that’s another story.
Find more work like this: Bedroom, Poplar, Stained. 177

177 Responses to “The Jungle Gym Bunk Beds”

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