|Copyright © 2006 MC Woodworks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
MC Woodworks, LLC
|Super-Sturdy Loft Beds by Superior Design
|Make no mistake that the Douglas Fir (DF) wood we use is exactly as the title above says, and that is
HIGH QUALITY. Also, except for the mattress slats (the pieces the mattress rests on) and a very few
interior pieces (just two, to be exact), we DO NOT use construction/structural grade lumber in
our loft beds. This should be quite obvious by looking at our loft bed photos, but you want to know a
bit more about our DF, don't you? Ok...
Let's talk about what we mean by "furniture-grade" lumber, and specifically about the grading and
quality of our DF lumber. Your loft bed will be made of "select appearance" grade DF. Within this
general grade, we specifically use the two highest quality grades, that is, "B and better" (B&BTR).
B&BTR is a combination grade that includes grades B and A, which, in plain English, means
"excellent" to "the very best". These are like school grades, it goes down to C and D grades,
which are certainly useless to us. This grade can be found in fine furniture, doors, custom
cabinets, and many types of millwork, where appearance is paramount (oh yeah, it can be
found in our loft beds too :-) ). With it's eclectic variety of grain patterns and subtle contrasts in color,
we think this wood is beautiful and a pleasure to work with.
Per board foot (lumber volume measurement), our DF costs about FOUR times more than typical
construction grade lumber, and the difference in quality is exactly the reason. So, when
you're comparing our material to our competitors', consider whether you're comparing
"apples to apples" or more like "apples to oranges".
As if not picky enough in choosing our original supply, we then inspect every single board
in-house, applying our own very specific requirements as it relates to building your loft bed
components. Sometimes, we'll simply reject a few boards altogether. Other times, we'll completely
work around defects by cutting them out. Just a few other times, we'll allow a very small tolerance for
defects, but understand that these are very hard to spot by an untrained eye and certainly do not
effect functionality of the loft bed. For example, a board that has a very slight twist is just fine,
because once assembled into the loft bed, this twist totally flattens out against the piece it's attached
The bottom line: We purchase high quality DF lumber to start, and by the time we've
inspected every board, the DF wood in your loft bed will have extremely limited defects,
such as these: www.lowes.com/cd_Lumber+Buying+Guide_896860585_#Common Defects.
About Our High Quality Furniture-Grade Douglas Fir
MC Woodworks Loft Bed Design 101
Who better to write this section than the actual designer of our loft beds? Yes, that would be
"MC" in MC Woodworks, and we're proud to introduce him right here:
Hi there, and thanks for visiting our website! We'll quickly get to the design mumbo jumbo, but let me
first say that throughout MC Woodworks' growth and evolution, I've made it a point to continue to be
very hands-on, not only in the workshop, but also in serving customers personally. So, it's my
pleasure to talk about our loft beds directly to you. I truly believe we offer the best combination of
super-sturdiness, high quality, and overall value in the loft bed market today, but I want you
to understand exactly why.
All of the following factors go hand-in-hand with each other, and together make for an incredibly
sturdy loft bed structure:
Douglas Fir Strength Properties
We've already touched on this above, so to avoid redundancy here, I'll simply say that if DF is strong
enough for commercial building and bridge construction, safe to say that it's plenty strong enough for
loft bed building!
Strength of Individual Components
Along with the strength characteristics of the raw material itself, it's important to understand how the
size and design of individual components impact overall stability.
It's best to illustrate this point with examples of the most important weight-bearing components:
---> Mattress Slats: These are the pieces which directly hold the mattress and weight of the
person(s) on the loft bed, so we're very sure to make these strong.
We use dimensional Hem Fir material for these pieces (1 1/2" thick), and then each mattress slat is
weight tested to withstand at least 130 lbs.
Additional tidbit: There is one particular defect that can be a positive for mattress slats, and that is a
"bow" characteristic (please see "defects" link in previous section).
Now, we absolutely reject lumber that is too bowed, but actually a slight bow can be a positive
characteristic for mattress slats, and here's why: If the lumber has a slight but acceptable bow,
whenever possible (other characteristics are also considered), we'll make it so that it is slightly curving
UPWARD when attached to the loft bed, thus creating an ARCH effect. An arch is one of the strongest
geometric structures, so when weight is put on the mattress slat, this arch effect actually makes it
stronger. This was tricky to explain, but hope this made sense!
(PHOTO coming here!)
---> Mattress Rails: These are the two pieces which the mattress slats rest on, and then distributes
the weight to the posts (either directly to the posts, or indirectly via the diagonal supports, which we'll
get to later). Notice that these are especially wide for increased strength and that the piece
permanently attached to it (we call this the "foundation") naturally adds to this strength.
(PHOTO coming here!)
---> Posts: Obviously, all weight in the frame is distributed to the four corner posts in some way, so
they must be made strong. Notice that these are constructed of two pieces that are permanently
attached together in an L-shape. This provides exceptional strength in every direction of stress that
will be imposed upon them. Once assembled upright, these posts provide great wobble-preventing
strength, as well as vertical weight-bearing strength.
(PHOTO coming here!)
Another important consideration is that within any stock of lumber, there are pieces that are heavier,
denser, and thus stronger than others. This is a result of the environmental factors in which any tree
grows, along with the natural randomness of anything living. With this in mind, we make sure to
hand-pick the strongest pieces in our stock for the most important structural components. Most of the
rest of our stock is plenty strong enough for secondary components, but sometimes we'll even reject a
few pieces if they are too weak. Believe me, our supplier is very aware of our pickiness, and we're
thankful for their willingness to accept our returns (which, by the way, lowers costs for us and you). :-)
Yet another reason to use the denser pieces is that these hold fasteners better over the long-term.
Diagonal Supports and "Engineering Redundancy"
Take a look at the two photos below. What do they have in common?
(Photo of loft bed diagonal support, photo of bridge diagonal support)
Ok, so the title of this section already gave it away, so we think you've got it right. That is: Both
designs incorporate diagonal supports for maximizing stability. We're about to explain why these
are so very important, but if you don't believe us, ask any engineer/architect (or student of
such), and we're very confident they'll tell you like it is.
Let me guess, you don't have an engineer friend or you just don't feel like contacting one. That's
quite alright because we're just making a point, and we'll be more than happy to explain this in simple
terms. By the way, I come from a family of engineers, and any one of them would tell you the
importance of diagonal supports, but perhaps not in simple terms. :-)
Take a look at the following sketch:
(photo of 90 degree joints w/o supports)
Think about what happens when motion is created on top of this structure. The angles at the corner
joints become either larger or smaller, when they should stay at exactly right angles (90 degrees).
This creates instability and wobble. Understand that even if very strong fasteners are used in the
corners, an ideal design would still incorporate diagonal supports. Without them, even if the structure
is stable initially, motion over the long term could unnecessarily stress out and possibly strip these
Enjoying these illustrations? Here's another:
(photo of same joints w/supports, close-up photo of triangle created by diagonal support)
Notice how adding diagonal supports LOCK-IN the corners at right angles. If motion is
created on top, these supports will NOT allow these right angles to fluctuate, thus creating
a stable, wobble-free structure.
Hope the above made sense, but wait...there are still two other great effects these diagonal
---> "Engineering Redundancy" - The condition created by adding elements of support which
are more than minimally necessary to create/maintain a stable structure.
Ok, a scary technical term, but let's explain simply what it means for your loft bed:
(photo of weight on loft bed)
Consider what would happen to the mattress rail (horizontal piece) in extreme weight conditions. At
some extreme weight, it will break. However, the supports become "redundant members" (additional
elements of support) that help distribute weight directly to the posts, thus sharing the weight load with
and for the mattress rail.
---> The following can also be considered engineering redundancy (actually, the wobble-preventing
effect explained first can also fall under this term).
Another happy illustration:
Although the mattress rail initially holds the weight, it all gets distributed to the posts. Again, at some
extreme weight, the posts will eventually buckle. However, the supports again become redundant
members and help the posts stay straight.
Still following us here? If so, great! If not, here's a very simple summary:
Diagonal supports not only prevent wobble, but also help distribute weight more evenly
throughout the structure, creating a long-lasting, super-sturdy, and safe loft bed.
...TO BE CONTINUED!
(POSSIBLE ADDITIONAL TOPICS, INTERNAL NOTES BELOW, PLEASE DISREGARD,)
size of components, reinforcements
Correctly proportioned components
ergonomics and versatility
aesthetic quality (strategically good looking faces)
NOTE: By all means, read the great information on this page, but understand that this page is
under construction. Consider this as a supplement to our original "design" page, or "bonus
material", if you prefer. Customers have made very confident decisions before this page was
added, so we hope you're still very informed about our products. Questions? Contact us!
Last point, but certainly not least important:
As far as strength and durability, structural DF lumber (same wood but manufactured for construction
use) is used in a very wide range of applications, including residential, commercial, and industrial
buildings. Some of DF's most impressive applications are in the building of stadiums,
warehouses, factories, and even bridges. These examples should be of particular interest
to you, because in it's basic design, a loft bed is similar to these enormous structures. In
fact, it's quite possible that the building around and over your head is made of some kind of DF
product. Judging by the fact that you're still reading right now (and not worried about the building
collapsing), we'd say that DF is holding up to it's high reputation, so to speak. :-)
Think this description was detailed? Click here for some really serious talk about DF (don't worry, we
promise not to quiz you on this stuff):
So, with all this lumber, we continue by cutting and drilling boards all over the place, right? No,
wait...seems like we should talk about it's design first. Yes, that's right...
<<<< These pieces
make up the
majority of the
outside frame of
the loft bed.
Yes, of course we'll
sand off the "B"
chalk marks in the
on the tag:
<<<< These wider boards are used for the mattress rails and
end rails in our loft beds (important structural pieces).
Uh oh, a surface scratch in the bottom right...but no worries! We'll
catch it and either cut it out completely, sand it out completely, or
incorporate it into a non-visible face when you assemble your loft
Attention to detail: We're all about it. :-)
CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE AND TAKE A REAL CLOSE LOOK.
See any defects? Go ahead, zoom in, if you wish.
Virtually none. Now, to be fair, there's no such thing as "100% defect-free" wood. After all, it
does come from a living organism, but as explained above, we'll either work around them
completely, or allow a VERY small tolerance for them (stress on "very small").
P.O. Box 844
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033