by Todd Walker
This rustic swing bed provides mind-blowing naps! A swing bed is typically hung under a large porch or other roofed structure. Since I have neither of these structures, I decided to build one from rot-resistant Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and hang it under the trees at the log cabin.
Here are the materials and tools I used.
- Rot-resistant lumber milled or purchased. Pressure treated dimensional lumber could be used but will not offer the rustic feel I was going for. My main frame was approximately 4×4’s with live edges.
- 1x? boards for slats. Limbs used for footboard spindles.
- Rope or chain. For hanging my bed from two trees, I chose 5/8 inch poly rope I already had for my log cabin projects.
- Screws. Trim screws, 3 inch deck screws, and 6 inch TimberLoc screws.
- Polyurethane to help preserve the wood and color of the red cedar.
- 2 – Two inch wide auto tow straps.
- Chainsaw mill. My Alaskan chainsaw mill has provided lots of lumber for several projects over the years. See DRG’s dining room table.
- Impact driver and drill… for driving screws and drilling pilot holes and rope/chain holes. Use appropriate sized drill bits as needed.
Size It Up
When this project came to mind, I had no real idea how large a frame I needed. Then I remembered DRG’s air mattress she bought for her tent but never got to use. The queen air mattress measured about four inches short on length than a typical queen mattress (60×80 inches). And since the swing would be under trees (no roof), the air mattress is waterproof and the best choice.
|Twin||39″ X 75″|
|Twin XL||39″ X 80″|
|Full||54″ X 75″|
|Qu||60″ X 80″|
|King||75″ X 80″|
|California King||72″ X 84″|
Chart courtesy of American Mattress.
I built the frame to handle the 60×80 inch queen mattress if I ever move the swing under a roof. On the frame, I added 5 inches to the queen width and about 15 inches to the length to accommodate the mattress and give enough room for corner holes for hanging the bed.
Live edges had to be shimmed to make a flush top surface for the frame. I drilled pilot holes and ran the 6 inch screws in to secure all corners.
As you can see above, two of the three sides are taller. This is to provide a headboard of sorts for the top and side of the bed. The shorter side would of course be the footboard. The short side is about 16 inches tall with the others being about 24 inches.
I used the toenail method to screw the four corner posts to the frame. I used both deck and TimberLok screws. I was pleased with how sturdy it turned out.
I ran a 2×3 down the middle of the frame lengthwise to help support the bed slats. Since I didn’t want to mill one inch boards, I used 1×6 cedar boards from a box store. Trim screws secured the slats to the frame.
I attached the footboard spindles with trim screws. If you’ve ever cut down a red cedar tree, you know how many limbs become available to you for other projects.
Choosing non-natural rope will give your swinging bed longer life. Natural fiber rope tend to degrade in weather sooner.
With a two-point connection, the bed is less stable getting in and out than if you had a four-point connection. I used two towing straps with hooks wrapped around two trees near my log cabin.
Bug proofing is handy here in the south. I bought two of the bug nets pictured below. One of these nets is intended for a twin size cot or mattress. I figured two sewn together would cover a queen size mattress. I was right. Melonie, who helped install the log cabin subfloor and porch deck, was nice enough to cut, design, and sew these two together in her “spare” time.
I enjoy cooler evening temperatures in the swinging bed at the log cabin. The whippoorwills serenade and I usually nap. It’s a peaceful place indeed!
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