On a regular basis, I take a month off of work to focus on projects that are outside of my normal work. In 2018, I decided I needed to build a storage solution for my loft. The project went through a number of stages to arrive at the final design, some of it decided on the fly while working in the shop, so I’ll do my best to recap everything here.
This is the first stage where I had only general notions of what I wanted. This started back in July of 2018; I had the idea that I need more storage. I started sketching ideas in my sketchbook. Originally I planned to make a loft bed to add storage, but after talking to some woodworking friends, I decided that wouldn’t be a very good solution because of structural requirements.
After talking with a friend who has experience with set design and structural design, I bought a book to dig a bit deeper into the subject of structural analysis for set design. You can buy the book below from Amazon if it catches your interest. This is obviously an affiliate link, so I get a little money if you use the link.
This led me down the road of a more stable platform that is lower to the ground, and built around Ikea parts. I sketched up an idea, and that seemed to resonate with me, so I went with this design as the basis for what I was going to build. I had enough to get started.
Now the final design did not follow that sketch, but it was the spark of the idea, so the first step was to create the base. The base ended up being made from Ikea Kallax parts: a 2×4, and 3 1×4.
As you can see, I simplified the design to make construction easier, and to avoid needing to build small baffles to fill in the corners. Eventually, I’m going to add stairs to the corners to make it easier to get on and off of the platform, but for now, this base works.
I attached all of the Kallax pieces together using corner brackets with spax screws.
When contemplating what to make the top out of, I decided on ¾” plywood. I went with maple because that’s what was available at Dunn Lumber. I wanted euro-ply, but they only had American-style, so I went with it. Luckily, Robin had some spare ¾” ply to test deflection to see what kind of bracing we’d need underneath it.
We decided on two braces spaced 19” apart. I crunched the numbers using Autodesk Fusion 360 to determine the framing we were going to need for the support system underneath. Robin also had some leftover engineered wood, so we built the braces out of that using a table saw and chop saw. Then glued and nailed together, and painted. Robin did most of the work for this part because big scary powertools that I still don’t feel comfortable around.
Now that we had the general idea for the finish done, I drove everything over to my loft and dry-fitted all of the pieces together. I discovered that we cut the front piece longer than was intended, so we had to trim that before we finish the surfaces. That was an easy fix with the table saw.
The long tail
The hardest part of woodworking is all of the sanding and finishing work that goes into the surfaces. I luckily avoid most of this because of using Ikea parts, but I still had to finish the top. I used poly-crylic finish from Sherwin-Williams with no stain. I liked the look of the maple ply that I bought so I wanted to avoid tinting it at all.
This took the better part of a week to get this all done and ready for final assembly.
First up, I had to glue the front piece down. This was pretty easy since I already had clamps and the glue. I then waited 24 hours for it to finish setting before moving onto the next step.
Then I attached the braced to the front. I still need to attach the braces to the back, but so far it doesn’t seem to be causing problem. Each of the long pieces can be removed and I may, at some point, create cleats to keep the top boards from moving, but with the precision of our cuts, and the extra tact created by the poly-crylic, they don’t seem to be moving around much.
All in all, this project took me about a month total time and costed around $500 in materials. I enjoyed the project alot and learned so much that it was completely worth the time invested.