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post #1 of 28 Old 01-01-2011, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Let me first say how thankful I am to the members of this forum, as I have garnered much information and used many threads for reference over the years. As I am sitting here in the waiting room while my truck is in for Virginia State Inspection, I thought I would take the time and complete my little theater build, hopefully helping someone else in the future.

The Amazing Grace Theater is simply a small section of my unfinished basement. I previously had a 50” 1080p plasma setup down there, but had an InFocus X9 720p projector in storage. I hadn’t had the time to put it up since moving into the house, but given a bit of time off during Christmas and New Years, I decided to jump into a build. While I will update this thread as I make smaller additions to the theater, this initial posting is focused primarily on building the screen. While I am not a professional woodworker, I do have experience with handy-man projects around the house and building my entertainment center. (Seen in pictures throughout this thread.) That being said, anyone who can make proper measurements and cut straight lines can do this.

Before we begin, here are some overall tips:

1. Plan everything out BEFORE you buy any materials.
2. Write all of your measurements and information in one central notebook, not on many scraps of paper.
3. You’ll be making more than one trip to Home Depot or Lowes. (There is nothing you can do to prevent it, just accept it.)
4. Take your time going through the wood pile. Finding straight wood in the store will save you time later on.
5. Four tools under $10 each worth their weight in gold - A GOOD ratcheting screwdriver; 48” straight-edge level; “L” or “T” square; wood clamps of all sizes
6. Measure twice. Step back and look. Measure again. Then cut.
7. If a screw hole can be pre-drilled…DO IT!!! Split wood is no fun…
8. Never use a power drill to put screws into wood. Always use a ratcheting screwdriver so you can feel the appropriate torque and not split the wood.
9. Do the measurements/calculations yourself. You may be using someone else’s build/plan/screen for reference, but relying on someone else’s measurements without wrapping your own head around things is asking for trouble.

Here we go:

My theater space in the basement is approx. 15’W x 24’L. This would fit a 120” DIY screen well. It is a completely unfinished basement that will serve as theater, game room, and storage. Basement has a walkout to the backyard with three windows that are on the wall opposite where the screen will be placed. These will be covered by blackout curtains, making the room completely light controlled. Eventually I’ll finish the basement, but for now it serves its purpose well and allows for a giant shop area that I can quickly clean-up with a shop-vac.



After doing research on different screen substrates, I decided to go with Wilsonart Designer White Laminate material referenced here: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=708240. I went with this screen substrate over others because it can be ordered in 5’ widths, is highly durable, fairly rigid, and required no painting. The plan was to build a solid frame out of 1x4’s to attach the WA laminate to, then sandwich it velvet-wrapped 3.25” MDF base trim. That process is outlined below.

Shopping List (not including basic tools):

• 5’ x 10’ Wilsonart Designer White Laminate (Cut to size for 16:9 screen)
• 3.5 yards of $12.99 velvet at JoAnn Fabric (No need to pay for 4 yards)
• 1”x4” (.75” x 3.5” actual) wood for frame (I used pine due to cost. Poplar is better, but more expensive)
• 3.25” MDF base trim (Wrap velvet around this)
• 4 – Corner “L” brackets for inside frame edges
• 6 – Simpson StrongTie brackets for inner frame supports
• Kreg Jig for pocket holes (http://www.amazon.com/Kreg-R3-Pocket...ies/B000J43A7W)
• 1 ¼”Kreg Jig Screws (For soft woods like pine use COARSE thread. For hard woods like poplar use FINE thread)
• 2” drywall screws for corner “L” brackets
• #6 ½” metal screws to attach Simpson StrongTie brackets
• #10 ½” metal screws to attach laminate to frame
• #10 washers for attaching laminate to frame
• 1 ¼” finish nails to attach MDF trim to frame
• Nail punch set to bury finish nails below velvet
• Wood glue
• Miter box & saw
• Staple gun & 3/8” staples
• 2 – 18” “Hangman” french cleat systems
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post #2 of 28 Old 01-01-2011, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Step 1:

First step was to cut the WA DW laminate to size (107”W x 61”H). Viewable screen size would be 105”W x 59”H after the MDF base trim was overlayed, resulting in a 120” diagonal. As others have mentioned, it comes in a 2’ x 2’ box, rolled in a tight coil. After taking it out of the box, I weighted down the edges and let it sit for nearly 2 days to help it lay flat. There was a small chip in my laminate that wouldn’t affect my build, but I highly recommend you inspect your laminate after unwrapping it. My 5’ laminate came oversized at 61”H, of which I used the whole height. Using a straight edge and utility knife, I scored the front side at 107” and made 5 separate scores using the knife. Then I carefully pulled upwards and “snapped” a clean edge to the laminate.



During the frame build, it is important to think ahead to the “layering process” and how each layer will attach itself to the layer below. You do not want to put a nail or screw through an undrilled hole in the laminate, potentially cracking it. My layering looked like this.

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post #3 of 28 Old 01-01-2011, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Step 2:

Second step was to build the frame which would support the overall weight of the screen. For a 120” screen I made my frame 111”W x 65”H out of pine 1x4’s. This size would allow for a 1.5” overlay of the laminate on each side.



All joints were made with wood glue and 2 pocket hole screws using a Kreg Jig. (I cannot say enough about this well-built and engineered tool. It makes extremely precise holes and allows for very strong joints. Well worth the $40 investment and I see myself using it on many future projects.) Inside corner joints were also supported with 4 “L” brackets.



Inner support joints were joined with 6 Simpson StrongTie brackets.



There we go! The finished frame can be seen below.

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post #4 of 28 Old 01-01-2011, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Step 3:

Third step was to attach the laminate to the support frame. After flipping the frame over where the Simpson StrongTie’s are on the back of the frame, I marked the edges for where the laminate would lay. There should be a 1.5” overlay. (See “layering” photo above.)



I then marked ½” from the edge on the laminate, showing where the holes would be predrilled for screws attaching the laminate to the frame.



Holes were then drilled through the laminate and into the wood frame below. It is important to note that the drill should be at a high speed setting before starting the hole as the laminate can be prone to chipping. #10 ½” Screws and washers were then placed every 6” or so along the top edge of the frame. Screws were placed every 12” or so along the side and bottom edges of the screen. This was due to others mentioned that the screen “needs room to grow” as humidity and temperature have their effect during upcoming months. I can later go back in, take out these screws and adjust the screen if any waves develop.







Using black Sharpie markers, I blacked out the sides of my frame as these could be seen behind the velvet trim when walking past the screen. Top and bottom wouldn’t be seen unless you were a giant or little person.

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post #5 of 28 Old 01-01-2011, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Step 4:

Fourth step was to cut and wrap the MDF trim that will form the outside border. My MDF trim would overhang the support frame by .5” on each side, attempting to hide the support frame and create a floating screen. Thus, my trim is 1” wider and 1” taller than the support frame dimensions. (112”W x 66”H) 45 degree edges were cut using a basic miter box and saw. Remember to keep the sloped edge towards the inside of the frame.





Now it’s time to wrap those trim pieces. I cut lengths of the black velvet 6” wide the entire 3.5 yard length. I won’t attempt to describe how to best wrap those pieces as MississippiMan in his thread here (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=865218) does a phenomenal job in describing it. I’ll just add a few things. First, if you do it properly, there is really no need for any messy adhesives as staples can hold it tightly. Secondly, 3/8” staples are your friend…use many of them. Lastly, I highly recommend doing the velvet wrapping in a carpeted area. The carpet helps to hold the velvet in place so it doesn’t slide around.









After finishing with the velvet wraps, you can now attach them to the lower support frame. Simply place them on your laminate & support frame, barely covering the laminate attach screws and leaving ½” of the velvet overhanging the over edge. Use 1 ¼” finish nails and a nail punch set to bury the head of the nails just below the velvet. You’ll be surprised how well they hide under the velvet. Remember that you only have a 2” gap between the edge of a laminate and the edge of the wood frame with which to hit. (See layering photo) When attaching the trim pieces, I recommend only using 3 nails to tack a left, right, and middle position, until you get all 4 pieces in place. Once all 4 pieces are in proper placement, then go back and put a nail in every 4” or so.





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post #6 of 28 Old 01-01-2011, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Step 5:

Fifth step was to attach the two “Hangman” french cleat systems to the wall and screen. These can support up to 200 lb. each, well more than my 50lb screen, but I wanted to disperse the weight for future wood-warping purposes. Installation of these is pretty straightforward, with some random wood screws I had laying around. Take care to measure at what height you place these, as that height will be important in calculating the relative viewing height when mounted on the wall. (This factors into the image offset value of your projector.) I mounted them 30” apart from one another and 1 ½” from the edge of the wood.. It should be noted that the Simpson StrongTies are in the way of the Hangman system laying flush to the wood. I placed #10 washers between the wood and Hangman system as they were the same thickness as the StrongTies. So it was wood -> washer -> hangman -> screw. FYI – When the two pieces of the french cleat are engaged, the mounting holes are 1 ½” from one another, center-hole to center-hole.





Determine the center position of your mounting wall and mark it on duct tape to be removed later. Since I have a concrete wall, I used 2” Tapcon screws to attach the hangman system to the wall. After a brief attempt to use my regular drill and then a quick trip to Harbor Freight to purchase a hammer drill, these went it much easier. Since each wall is different, I’ll spare any specific measurements. That being said, I spent 30 minutes doing the calculations for image offset, image size, overall screen size, viewable screen size, etc…. Take the time to double check these measurements as it affects your projector placement. In fact, I actually mounted my projector before I mounted the screen to ensure I got the screen position right.









I removed all the duct tape except for a small piece above the screen marking the center position of the wall. I then marked the center position on the screen itself so that I could line these two markings up when hanging the screen. If these two line up, not only is the screen perfectly centered on the wall, but the two “Hangman” cleats will be perfectly lined up with one another!
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post #7 of 28 Old 01-01-2011, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Conclusion:

That’s it! With the screen now up, I enjoyed a movie last night with a good friend from town. I still have many more small things to make the Amazing Grace Theater a true theater experience, but I’m happy with a man cave type feel for now. I’ll try to update my thread as I make major additions not only to help others, but to serve as a journal of sorts for myself.

Total cost for building the screen was just under $200, but it should honestly last a lifetime. Given that I sold my 50” plasma a few weeks ago for $600 and already had the projector, I figure pocketing $400 and have a screen 580% the viewable screen size of the plasma was a worthy project. My only regret was not doing my calculations beforehand in regards to the height at which the screen could be placed on the wall. Due to the image offset of my projector, I had to mount the screen at such a height where I couldn’t place my homebuilt entertainment center stand underneath it. Thus, I moved it to the side of the room and will be looking for a short Center Channel stand.

One last comment, given the nature of this forum there can be a tendency to find our worth in the electronic which we take pride in. May we all remember that success is not measured by the size of our screens or the quality of our AV equipment...success is measured by the quality of time we spend with those we love. Enjoy every moment you can with your family!

Final pictures:

Amazing Grace Theater



Amazing Grace Theater (Angle #2)



Screen



Screen (Close-up)



Screenshot #1 (720p Infocus X9 Projector)



Screenshot #2 (720p Infocus X9 Projector)

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post #8 of 28 Old 01-01-2011, 05:20 PM
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Very nice, well done. Thanks for sharing your screen construction. Now to do something about all of those reflective walls. Beautiful picture now you have to work on the sound.

Regards,

RTROSE

My (slower than molasses) HT build here.
Now a Certified Carpet Counselor and Plumbing Counselor (Self given titles - pay no attention).
Enjoying my "almost done" theater.
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post #9 of 28 Old 01-01-2011, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTROSE View Post

Very nice, well done. Thanks for sharing your screen construction. Now to do something about all of those reflective walls. Beautiful picture now you have to work on the sound.

Regards,

RTROSE

Thanks for the compliments!

Trust me...sound treatment is on the to-do list. Many other more important things (around the whole house) before that gets done
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post #10 of 28 Old 01-01-2011, 07:17 PM
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Nice job. Looks like you are going to have a great HT space. If you are going to be doing construction with your equipment in the room, dust will be the enemy to your electronics equipment. I set up my equip as you have, then boxed it all up after a couple of weeks. It was sad putting it all away for many months, but it gave me a great incentivie to "get it done" at least to the point where the sheetrock, painting, and woodwork was done.
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post #11 of 28 Old 01-02-2011, 08:12 AM
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Thanks for sharing your screen build. It looks great! I wasn't planning on doing my own screen but now I think I might also!
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post #12 of 28 Old 01-04-2011, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
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After watching movies the past two nights, I noticed that the screen was a bit off. I decided to check and apparently the left side of my screen was 3/8" higher than the right. You wouldn't think that you would notice 3/8" difference over a 112" width, but you can.

Took the screen down tonight and adjusted the Hangman system on the back. Rehung the screen and now things are within 1/16" of one another. I can live with that
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post #13 of 28 Old 01-09-2011, 06:55 PM
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Looks good McEagle. Just curious why you didn't use contact cement on the vertical braces?

Erik
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post #14 of 28 Old 01-09-2011, 07:19 PM
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Love It!!
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post #15 of 28 Old 01-11-2011, 09:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phatmac View Post

Looks good McEagle. Just curious why you didn't use contact cement on the vertical braces?

Erik

Great question Erik.

Through my reading in the laminate screen DIY forum, some people reported that the material will slightly expand/contract with temperature & humidity. While all the sides are screwed down tight, this can cause a "bulge." If I had used contact cement on the vertical braces, I could theoretically get 4 sections of "bulging." That would create a wave type effect as the screen rose and dipped in close proximity.

By not using the contact cement, if I get a bulge, it is one larger bulge with a gradual rise/dip that can't be noticed when watching the movie.

Thus, contact cement, though it could provide a better hold to the center of the material, could in fact result in a worse image.

Hopefully that makes sense.

Update: Since having the screen in my basement (Roughly 50 degrees due to winter), the laminate material has started to bulge a bit. You can only notice it if looking at the screen from the side and is maybe 1/4" high. Doesn't affect viewing at all. This material is extremely easy to work with and durable. Highly recommend it!
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post #16 of 28 Old 01-11-2011, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Following the screen build, I realized I needed a better center channel stand than an Amazon box. Thus, I bought some 1" x 12" wood (The boards used for stairsteps with a pre-rounded edge) and made a simple DIY stand. The first picture is after I applied the poly clear coat before letting it dry overnight.





Given that the basement is completely unfinished and I had boxes still sitting on the floor on the other side of the basement, I figured I should build some shelves. Basic construction with 2 x 4's and 7/16" OSB. I took measurements to accomodate some 18-gallon totes I got from Lowes after Christmas. ($1.50 each after coupon!!!!)



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post #17 of 28 Old 01-11-2011, 11:12 PM
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Nice job on the center stand. I found building racks w/bins essential when trying to parse out storage space in the basement. Great price on the bins!
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post #18 of 28 Old 01-12-2011, 06:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mceagle555 View Post
Update: Since having the screen in my basement (Roughly 50 degrees due to winter), the laminate material has started to bulge a bit.
50 degrees!! Boy that sure does bring my (not so) fond memories of my basement before my renovation project! Now - believe it or not - when it's below zero I actually head down to the basement to warm up! Of course, that took more than a couple of years of work to accomplish, not to mention a fair amount of cash and lots of insulation. Plus a gas fireplace insert. But I digress.

If you live in a cold northern climate like me (and it sounds like you do if your basement is 50 degrees), I would say it doesn't cost too much to simply insulate your external walls and perhaps frame them out. The real finishing work (and money expenditure) can come later, but I never really started using my large basement space until it was warm enough to do so, and that was before it was finished, but after it was insulated. Now it's the entertainment epicenter of the entire universe. At least my universe.

Also, if you haven't already done so make sure you check out piomaniac's basement in this thread, as he made an amazing space using curtains and whatnot in an unfinished basement.

Nice job on the screen build - looking forward to seeing your progress over time!

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post #19 of 28 Old 01-13-2011, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Javatime View Post

Nice job on the center stand. I found building racks w/bins essential when trying to parse out storage space in the basement. Great price on the bins!

Thanks Java!! I just wanted something simple for the center stand. Figured $20 worth of wood and a bit of my time was worth it.

I looked through your theater build a few days ago after you made your first reply. I was very impressed! Really liked your idea with the window lighting. Impressive indeed.
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post #20 of 28 Old 01-13-2011, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hanesian View Post

50 degrees!! Boy that sure does bring my (not so) fond memories of my basement before my renovation project! Now - believe it or not - when it's below zero I actually head down to the basement to warm up! Of course, that took more than a couple of years of work to accomplish, not to mention a fair amount of cash and lots of insulation. Plus a gas fireplace insert. But I digress.

If you live in a cold northern climate like me (and it sounds like you do if your basement is 50 degrees), I would say it doesn't cost too much to simply insulate your external walls and perhaps frame them out. The real finishing work (and money expenditure) can come later, but I never really started using my large basement space until it was warm enough to do so, and that was before it was finished, but after it was insulated. Now it's the entertainment epicenter of the entire universe. At least my universe.

Also, if you haven't already done so make sure you check out piomaniac's basement in this thread, as he made an amazing space using curtains and whatnot in an unfinished basement.

Nice job on the screen build - looking forward to seeing your progress over time!

Thanks for the reference to piomaniac's thread! I'll definitely check it out.

Finishing the basement is definitely in the master plan, but finances and time are going to keep me from it for the time being. The rear wall to the basement (Walk-out side) is framed and insulated, but I could do the other walls at some point. I do have HVAC vents down there already, but have them shut off to conserve heating costs. (The things you can do while single...)

Thanks for the advice! Happy to have the "un-theater" guy looking into my thread!
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post #21 of 28 Old 01-19-2011, 01:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Finally got around to hooking up the two surround speakers. No pictures, but I forgot what a difference going from 3.1 to 5.1 was!
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post #22 of 28 Old 01-19-2011, 02:33 PM
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post #23 of 28 Old 01-20-2011, 09:42 AM
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Hey, great job on the screen. Brings me back to exactly what I did when we first built our house a few years ago. Built DIY DW laminate screen almost exactly how you did. I hung it from the ceiling with chains and hooks and had a great time playing games and watching movies down there for 2 years until we started on the basement.

Sound off the concrete was not an issue for me. I just got used to it. You'll be amazed on on how quiet everything will be when you get the basement finished.

Great job

Mike's attempt at a Theater

DIY motorized masking system

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post #24 of 28 Old 01-23-2011, 08:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wazzey View Post

Hey, great job on the screen. Brings me back to exactly what I did when we first built our house a few years ago. Built DIY DW laminate screen almost exactly how you did. I hung it from the ceiling with chains and hooks and had a great time playing games and watching movies down there for 2 years until we started on the basement.

Sound off the concrete was not an issue for me. I just got used to it. You'll be amazed on on how quiet everything will be when you get the basement finished.

Great job

Thanks for the compliments Wazzey! I took a look at your PGA theater build and I am super impressed! Looking at your screen was like looking in a mirror.

Hopefully I'll start finishing the basement here in a few years. For now, I'm happy with my small "man-cave" theater build
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post #25 of 28 Old 01-23-2011, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
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I know, I know...it's not a theater-related build, but it's a build nonetheless.

I moved my queen-size bed upstairs to serve as a guest bed and bought a new California King Memory Foam mattress for the master bedroom. I didn't want to spend $350-$500 on a platform bed or boxspring/frame combination, so I decided to build my own.

Essentially it is a frame of 2x12's on the bottom supporting a slightly larger frame of 2x4's on top. I left a 6" overhang on 3 sides. The build idea is similar to kitchen cabinets, leaving a gap below so that you don't stub your toes.

I wrapped the edge of the top frame in batting and a brown fabric to finish it off and give it a cleaner look. I'll finish off the base somehow later on, but I'm happy with the way things turned out.

Total cost for the project was right about $110. (Wood, OSB plywood, screws, batting, fabric). I argue that you won't find a sturdier bed-frame in your life!!!!

Top Frame (2x4's)



Bottom Frame (2x12's)



Top Frame Screwed to Bottom Frame



OSB Plywood & Batting Added



Brown Fabric Stretched



Corner Close-up



Letting the memory foam mattress "Air out" after being vacuum sealed

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post #26 of 28 Old 01-05-2013, 12:44 PM
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Hey....what is the Bed for.

Are you planning to make movies instead of watch them? eek.gif

Just kidding, of course. wink.gif

Your overall effort, and especially to great job done on the Trim really impresses me.

So...after almost a full years, how has the WA-DW worked out....and do you have any updated photos of the room?

To quote James T. Kirk;
"I'm laughing at the superior intellect"
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post #27 of 28 Old 01-11-2013, 07:47 PM
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Yes, I have the same question. Have you had anymore problems with bulging? I really like your design.
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post #28 of 28 Old 03-10-2013, 07:22 AM
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Wanted also to know how is the bulging after 2 years of use?
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