Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. -- Carl Sandburg
There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

April 18, 2011

The Bed Raising

My van has a dinette/bed in the rear.  I have no need for seating for 6 or a 6'x6' bed and can comfortably sleep across the rear of the van.  I thought that having about 42 inches between the bed and the bottom of the upper cabinets was a lot of wasted space devoted to the bed.  It was also a lot easier to leave the bed in place while on the road than to make it up each day.  To that end, I decided to semi-permanently make a raised bed in the back.  I got poplar boards to make two boxes raising the bed area by 7.5 inches.   This is item 2 in my list.

My boxes need the following attributes:
  1. Easily removed
  2. Minimal permanent change to existing stock van - if I sell it, I'll be glad for this
  3. Strong enough to be solid under weight and movement of the van
  4. Maximize the space underneath while keeping sufficient space above the bed to be comfortable sleeping, rolling over, & lounging in bed reading.
  5. The space underneath needs to be accessible.
  6. Be attractive
I figured out that a 7.5 inch, 3/4 inch poplar boards would do the trick.  With the 4" cushions and the 14" bench bases, the raised bed would leave 30" to the bottom of the upper cabinets.  I can sit upright in that amount of space.

Boards cut for one box
Next decision was how to join the boards.  I decided on pocket screws.  Strong joints, glue is unnecessary, and the boxes can be knocked down if needed in the future.  I love my pocket screw jig and right angle clamp.

To keep the weight down and improve accessibility, I decided the end of the boxes that go against the rear doors could be open with just 1'x3' boards for support.  I thought at first that the side of the board against the van wall would need an extra support because of the curvature of the van wall, but it turned out not to be needed.  A simple box worked well.

Clamp pocket screw jig & drill
I just fit sleeping across the back of the van.  I found that many places had a bit of a slope from side to side in the van so it was more comfortable to sleep across the back and I could switch ends so my head would be elevated a bit.  I ended up just using the 3' middle cushion with good comfort so I decided the raised portion would be plenty big enough at 4' wide with the 20" in the middle only 3' wide.  That way, I can use the existing cushions on the raised portion.  That leaves plenty of room to stretch out my arms and there's still room for the cats on the bed with me.   That leaves a 2' seat next to the galley cabinets for sitting.
Clamp the slats to drill the pockets

1.  Cut 4 long boards (45.75") and 2 side boards (23 3/16") for the forward end to make 2 boxes.  Cut 6 1x3 boards (21.75") for rear ends.  I wanted the forward side to have its end on the long side so I could apply a trim piece to cover the edge grain.  The slats sit inside the box.
2.  Cut 6 pieces of 3/4" trim to cover the exposed edges a bit longer than the 7.5" of the boards.  I used beaded trim pieces.  Glue and clamp the trim pieces on the front edge of the side boards and ends of the long boards in the rear.
Glue trim to edges

Right angle clamp to screw the pockets
Clamp rear board to side
Clamp & screw rear slat
Test the fit in the van
3.  Mark the long boards where to drill the pocket screw holes in the front.  The board that butts against the perpendicular piece is the one where the pocket goes.  I put the pocket holes in the same place on both front and back boards so the rear board pockets are against the wall and front board is on the inside of the box.  Clamp the jig well so it won't slip, and drill the holes.
4.  Clamp and screw a couple of pockets to test fit the box.  Then disassemble.
5.  Sand, sand, sand all boards with 80 grit, then 120 grit to get them smooth.  I turned the sander to 45 degrees on all the edges to give them a slight rounding.  Wipe the sanding dust off and stain.  Before I stained the boards, I wiped them pre-stain to ensure an even color.  After the stain dried, I used Minwax wipe on polyurethane varnish.  Between each coat, I gently rubbed it with 0000 steel wool dampened to get it smooth.  I put on 4 thin coats on all sides to prevent any potential warping of the boards.
Bolt on rear in back

Box in place
Plate for bolt, front
Bolt test fit hole on front
6.  After all the finishing, I repeated the clamping and screwed in each pocket to make the boxes.  In the middle of the top, I clamped and screwed the top support slat with the pockets facing down.
Slice chamfer on corners
Middle supports ready to stain

7.  To ensure the boxes don't shift when in motion, I put 2 surface bolts on opposite ends of the boxes.  They are the type of bolt used on French doors.  I just drilled a couple of holes in the existing bench top to give the bolt room to hold the box.  With the plate, it holds nicely.
8.  To support the middle cushion, I glued  & clamped two half inch x 1.5 inch poplar boards together to make a 1" thick board.  I then used a plane to trim a chamfer on all the edges of the boards to ease the edges.  Sand it well to make it really smooth.  Stain & varnish.  I then clamped and screwed the boards about 3/4 inch below the top of the boxes on the front.  These receive the 3' support board for the middle cushion.  
Nissa, the cat approves
9.  Install back in the van, put the cushions on and I have a lot more room for storage.  One of the cats approved of it after giving it a thorough sniff test.  Now, instead of 14" above their litter box, there's 21".  That should allow the cats sufficient head room to do their business.  I'll cut and fit a few plywood pieces to supply a shelf under some of the cushions for additional storage places accessible by lifting up the cushions.

1 comment:

  1. Looks awesome! How are your kitties doing? xx Natalie / Cat(at)OzziCat.com.au


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