Introduction: Thomas Train Bed

Picture of Thomas Train Bed

So I decided to build a Thomas Train bed for my son, who, like many boys his age, loooooves Thomas the train. Got my design inspiration from another train bed design on, hopefully a lot simpler to make. 

Step 1: Sketchup

Picture of Sketchup

First I drew up the bed in Google Sketchup. This bed was designed for a standard twin size mattress 39" x 75". 

You can download the sketchup file here. You need the Google Sketchup program (free version is enough) to open it. 

Step 2: Cutlist Diagram

Picture of Cutlist Diagram

I used one 4x8 sheet of 3/4" plywood for the bed body, one 4x4 sheet of 3/4" plywood for the foot board/toy chest and some scrap I have for various parts. If you start from scratch, 2 sheets of 3/4" plywood should be more than enough. Alternatively, you could use 1.5 sheet of plywood and half sheet of MDF for the curves.

Step 3: Making the Engine Head

Picture of Making the Engine Head

I made the engine head with 2 half circle and a 1/8" hardboard bent around them.

Step 4: Making the Rooftop

Picture of Making the Rooftop

Cutting the arcs was a pain, mainly because the plywood is hard to deal with and I don't have a scroll saw to keep the cut perpendicular to the surface. In the end I had to use my router with a straight bit to cut the curves. Again, if I were to do it again, I'd use MDF.

I also used the router to cut a 1/4" groove along the inside of the arcs and the side rail so that the roof board can fit in. 

Step 5: Bed Body

Picture of Bed Body

The bed body was straight forward to make. The two sides are identical pieces cut from one sheet of plywood (kind of like a "69" pattern). It saves wood and avoids the need to join multiple pieces together. For the decorative red sidings around the window, I used 1x4 pre-primed MDF boards.

Do not throw away the 2 cut-off pieces from the window - they are used as the 2 shoulders for the toy chest.

Step 6: Toybox

Picture of Toybox

The foot board is essentially a box with opening on top and side. I didn't bother to put in a bottom for the box since I figure it's gonna be attached to the bed and sit stationary on carpet. I routed grooves on the inside of the box and turned the left side of the box into an IKEA TROFAST like storage system for toys. The rest of the toybox can still be accessed from the top for storage of bulk items, clothes, bedding, etc.

Step 7: Headboard

Picture of Headboard

I made the headboard out of the left over pieces from cutting the roof arcs (the light blue pieces in the diagram). I joined them using dowel pins & glue, and now we have a headboard w/ nice curves.

Step 8: Thomas Face

Picture of Thomas Face

For the Thomas face, I found a high resolution picture of it here. I printed it on 11x17 paper and did a decoupage using mod podge - this is the first time I try decoupage (or heard of this word). It's a good idea to have multiple prints in case you mess it up.

Step 9: Paint & Assembly

Picture of Paint & Assembly

I routed all the edges with round over bits, used some spackle to smooth over the flat edges of the plywood. Painted and added couple coats of polyurethane. The assembly was straight forward too, mostly involves pockethole screws, glue and corner brackets.

Step 10: Finished

Picture of Finished

Here's the finished bed. The train engine head was fixed to the toy chest with hinges and safety lid support, giving safe access to the back of the toy chest. If you want to go nuts, cut some openings on the side of the bed and add some drawers, or better yet, train wheel shaped drawers :D

The project took me more time than I expected, about 3/4 of the time was actually spent on the design and sketchup, but it's been fun for me and the big smile on my son's face makes it all worth it.


nana228 (author)2017-03-13

Does anyone know of any places that would cut the wood for you if you do not have the tools? Thanks

IlhanM (author)2016-05-14

its wanderfull

KatelandV (author)2016-04-15

I like how the bed looks thx

Lkallus made it! (author)2015-09-14

I did it!!!! Thank you so much, everyone's comments helped too!

raptor23 (author)Lkallus2015-09-14

Looks amazing! Sorry I did not get a chance to reply sooner about the arc. I just fix my jigsaw or router on a piece of wood strip and nail the other end of the strip to the wood, move the jigsaw slowly you will get an arc. Was that what you did? In any case, very good job and thanks for sharing!

Lkallus (author)2015-08-21

hi guys, you all are quite amazing what you have done with these plans. I am a novice and I'm trying to do this. For someone like me who has very little experience, how did you make that arc for the rooftop? I'm trying to freehand it and it looks terrible.

Also, how are people fastening the pipe to the top of the engine head? I like the smokestack look but don't know how they fasten the pipe to the top. I am doing my best, but somethings I'm just not sure how to do. I wish the instructions were a little more detail? Like also how to fasten everything together. Thanks for help! Laura

terry.elvers made it! (author)2015-04-07

I made this for my 4 year old, according to your plans. I did make a few changes...

1) I made a frame for it, so I could incorporate two full-extension drawers.

2) Obviously, I made James instead (my son's favorite)

3) Incorporated 2 LED lights in the cab for reading at night

He LOVES it! Thanks so very much, without your guidance and plans, I never would have attempted it.

raptor23 (author)terry.elvers2015-04-21

Very cool! I initially wanted to design the drawers as well but gave that up as my wife was getting impatient ... :D Thanks for sharing

lauren.w.deberry (author)2015-04-20

Anybody have an estimate of the cost to build?

terry.elvers made it! (author)2015-02-26

Thanks so much for the inspiration. I did a take off of your design, and did "James". The things I did differently are:

1) I made a frame for the bed, with pull-out drawers.

2) Added the buffers on the front (end caps from sewer pipes)

3) Added LED lights in the cab so he can read.

4) An artist friend hand panted the James face.

This was a great project, and my 5 year old son LOVES it. I rally appreciate the plans, etc - could not (would not) have attempted it without them.


theSTRUKTURE (author)2014-12-05

Did you hand paint Thomas's face or did you buy decal?

abeliaeva (author)2014-06-15

Thank you for the awesome instructions! We are about to try our own version of this for our just turned two little man! Quick question about the face... Namely: how? :) Can't figure out the exact way to do it...

raptor23 (author)abeliaeva2014-06-17

I printed the Thomas face on paper, then basically glued it on to the wood - try google "decoupage". Alternatively, if you are talented, try what adams070707 did - directly paint it on the wood.

For decoupage, you need a bottle of Mod Podge from HD or walmart. Put 1 coat (some suggested mix 50/50 w/ water) on the back of the wood and on the back of your Thomas printout. Glue it on and roll it flat with a roller. Let it dry a bit and add another coat over the printout to seal it in. I did mess up couple times before finally getting it right :).

Good luck.

abeliaeva (author)raptor232014-06-18

Ah, awesome! Thank you! Will definitely try it out, and put some pics up when we're done!

adams070707 made it! (author)2014-06-09

I asked my dad about a month before Christmas to make this bed for my son (his only grandchild), so of course he did! Working headlights and a train horn (that has an "off" switch...thank goodness!) My talented sister did the wall mural! So, technically "I" didn't make anything, but I did ask the right people! My son LOVES his new big boy room! :)

raptor23 (author)adams0707072014-06-09

Thank you for sharing. This is indeed above and beyond. Your son is so lucky to have such a loving and talented family.

cafrey11 made it! (author)2014-05-13

We also used these plans to build a bed for our grandson, it was a hit!! I also used the mod podge to do the wheels and the lights.

raptor23 (author)cafrey112014-06-09

Nice work with the wheels and lights. Looks like both kids are loving it!

pd'ostroph (author)2013-12-29

I found your instructions and thought I would give it a try. My son is crazy for Thomas the Tank, and I thought it would make a great Christmas present. I took a collaboration of all the posts and customized it a bit. I made the roof taller, added some extra wheels and whistles, and put the steering wheel on. The light is LED and is held on with a magnet, so he can detach it and find his toys in the storage. Thank you for posting this. The late nights in Santa's workshop made it all worth while, when I saw him so excited and smiling all day...

raptor23 (author)pd'ostroph2014-02-14

Good work! The bed gets more and more fancy, I wish I thought about all these bells & whistles my original design. Cheers!

pd'ostroph (author)2013-12-29

few more pics

Jenris (author)2013-08-22

Yep, we did build and paint Thomas in our living room. We did all the cutting outside but it's winter here and we were painting in the evening after the little man was in bed so we set ourselves up in the house with the heating. We have two living areas so it wasn't too annoying and made us keep our noses to the grindstone!

Thanks for posting your design. We're not woodworkers (hence no workshop!) but we've been able to build our little guy an awesome bed. He's been sleeping in it for a month or so now and hasn't once got out of bed to wander around like most toddlers!

Jenris (author)2013-08-13

Been meaning to take some better pics and upload them for you raptor23 but keep running out of time so here are a few from my phone but at least it'll give you an idea of our son's Thomas bed. Son's bedroom is quite small so it's tough to get a good pic now that it's in place. It took a little time to convert all the dimensions to mm and to suit an Aussie mattress but we got there in the end. We added wheels, a light and a steering wheel. We had to extend our ducted heating and add a vent in the side between the wheels too. We had great fun making it and 2 year old loves his bed!

raptor23 (author)Jenris2013-08-19

Glad to see train bed design going international! Thanks for sharing.

And, I have to ask - did you actually build/paint the bed in the middle of what appears to be your living room?!

ctedelen (author)2013-07-13

I just used these plans to build my sons bed. I made a few small modifications though. I extended the roof up so i wouldnt have to worry about him, or me, bumping his head, extended the engine part out some and added a smoke stack and light. I am looking for a way to add some sound effects that are picture button controlled. Thanks so much for these plans, it was exactly what i was looking for, and he loves it.

raptor23 (author)2013-05-11

Wow cparson0413 - excellent work! The lights, the train wheels ... and the funnel - awesome details! I am so happy to see your post, you made my day.

cparsons0413 (author)2013-05-08

BTW..... we added a battery operated light to the front to act as the lantern. It's great as a night light!

cparsons0413 (author)2013-05-08

raptor23: what a great job! Just like natebowers11, I too made a few adjustments. However, would have not been close to thinking about your design. My Grandson never knew I was making it and just about lost his mind when he saw it. My son and daughter-in-law have been trying to get him into his own bed. Now, they can't get him out of it!

natebowers11 (author)2013-02-23

raptor23 wanted to thank you for the post and share my photos. kid loves the bed. changed a few things along the way but never would have thought of this idea on my own. great job. Nate

raptor23 (author)natebowers112013-02-23

Nate, that was awesome! And you got the matching bedding too! Thanks very much for sharing, enjoy :)

rehyburg (author)2012-12-26

Excellent! Thank you for the VERY detailed instructions. My 2.5 y/o is going to love this! One question...can you tell me what thickness MDF you suggest? Thank you again for sharing your knowledge.

natebowers11 (author)rehyburg2013-02-23

1/8 mdf works best for the bends, you have to wet it first and let it soak so it won't snap when you bend it for the head.

rtrulove (author)2013-02-14

Omg my son is going to go NUTS over this! Awesome work! Quick question though....did you put a platform of some sort under the mattress? Or is there just a box spring on the ground with the mattress on top?

raptor23 (author)rtrulove2013-02-15

rtrulove: yes I have a box spring underneath. It's about the same dimension as the mattress itself. Alternatively, you could use a plywood platform or slats with proper support. Good luck.

LaurenDufour (author)2013-02-13

Hi, Thanks so much for these amazing instructions. By any chance do you still have the computer file you drew the plans in? Thanks so much for sharing. Lauren

raptor23 (author)LaurenDufour2013-02-15

Got quite a few requests for the computer file, so I decided to upload it online. You can download the file from here, and you need Google Sketchup software to open it. Have fun.

P.S. Feel free to post photos if you ended up making one as well.


embochner (author)2012-10-09

what kind of paint/finish did you use?

raptor23 (author)embochner2012-10-09

embochner - I used regular wall paint from HD for the blue and spray paint cans for the red and espresso, plus 2 coats of polyurethane.

BTW ... Thanks all for the nice comments :)

embochner (author)raptor232012-10-09

looks great i might build this for my nephew

c-face (author)2012-10-06

Thanks! My kid is going to love this!!!

tqwerty (author)2012-10-05

Great job!
Although, I believe that he is called "Thomas the Tank Engine"
Keep up the good work :D

bajablue (author)2012-10-05

First Class Instructable... and super-cute, too!!!

danlynne07 (author)2012-10-05

wow. you are talented. i wish i could make this for my son.

mikolynn (author)2012-10-05

Amazing! I only miss some boxes down the bed but anyway... Really great!

i8paste (author)2012-10-03

Wow! You can really see his excitement in this picture. Very cool. Well done, again!

i8paste (author)2012-10-03

Looking good! Is that the lucky recipient of this bed in the top picture?
Jealous of all the available space your garage. The more my wife and I fight the clutter, the more we seem to lose the battle.

i8paste (author)2012-10-03

Really great! Well done! I must be careful so that my son doesn't see this. He will be SO jealous!

jamieman (author)2012-10-03


CarpePM (author)2012-10-02

That's awesome. Well done!!

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