Building a Train Bed





Introduction: Building a Train Bed

After looking all over the internet, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't happy with any of the train beds available. The only one I did like was super expensive. So I decided to make my own (I used a picture of the one I found on the internet to get approximate dimensions).

The bed is made out of 1/2 inch MDF, railing and trim is made with pine. All edges of bed are routered (except exterior edge of round part). I painted in latex paint and covered with acrylic satin gloss. Bed comes apart in several all together it would weigh about 350 lbs and be unmoveable.

Major Tools needed:

Air Compressor
Brad Nailer
Staple Gun
Scroll saw
Miter Saw
Table Saw
Table Router

Materials (approx):

3 - 4x8 1/2" MDF
4 - 1x4 Pine Boards
4 - 1.3 Pine Boards
6 Lag bolts
Cap Nuts


Step 1: Making Mattress Base:

Go buy a mattress and measure the dimensions. Then make the top part of the bed where the mattress will rest in. This is pretty simple to do. I used some L brackets for support on the inside corners of the bed. Used a brad nailer and glue to hold it together.

Step 2: Making the Round Part:

This is a tricky part...not easy at all. If you don't measure this thing perfectly, you'll be doing it again. So measure 6 times, cut once on this part. See pic for details.

The diameter of the round part needs to be as wide as the top bed you made in step 1. Make sure you cut the circles out of the middle of the MDF (you will need the "scrap" piece to build the bumper of the train). I screwed together two pieces of MDF and then cut one cirlce to get exactly two cirlces the same size. You will then need to router out the inside edge of the circles to countersink the mason board you will use to wrap the round part. See See picture for how I put it together.

Step 3: Build the Base:

The base is smaller than the bed part you made in Step 1. It's about 10 inches narrower (so that the top part will over hang the sides for depth. It's also not as long, but the front part should be flush with the top part of the bed.

Step 4: Step 4: Build Bumper & Dry Assemble:

Using the scrap wood from Step 2, build the bumper. Pretty simple. Put the bed together using bolts. See picture for bolt placement. 

Step 5: Build Cab Walls:

To get proportion and window placement, I first used a giant piece of card board to make a sample wall. Once I had it the way I wanted, I drew the dimensions on the MDF and cut it out. I placed pine 3 inch strips running verticly for support (those are glued and nailed to the wall). I then drilled holes to attach wall to bed made in Step 1. I counter sunk the holes and used a lag bolt to attach to the bed.

Step 6: Build Roof

I used the same technique to build this as I did the round part in step 2. I wrapped the top part with mason board (however, I did not spackle it).

Step 7: Side Rails

See notation on picture. Pretty easy step.

Step 8: Back Board

Add to back of bed and attach to cab walls only.

Step 9: Wheels and Front Part

Cut out wheels on scroll saw as well as round piece for front part of train. Do not attach them. You will paint first then attach (much easier to do this way).

Step 10: Paint & Piston Case

Disassemble bed and paint. You are also going to need a piston case. I made this out of MDF, just like I did for the round part in Step 2. However the mason board won't wrap around an object that instead of spacing wood supports every few inches like I did on the round part, I put wood spacers right next to each other and then filled spackle on top of it and sanded.

You will also need the bars that attached to the wheels. Measure and attach them with nails and glue. I then added a silver screw for decorative purposes.

One painted you'll also need to make the smoke stack. I made this one on a lathe. I turned a 6 inch x 6 inch x 8 inch piece of wood to make this one.

Step 11: Final Product

See attched pics. My son loves it. You'll see that my other son has a truck bed that I made him 2 years ago.



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How much did this whole thing cost you? This is beautiful, by the way. I'm considering making a Hogwarts Express one for my stepdaughter!

Thanks for the kind words. I really have no idea how much I had into this bed...$200 to $300 would be my guess. What did it cost me in time...that's incalculable!

Oh, I guess you did include that. Any ideas for someone who doesn't have access to a lathe?

Fair enough. Do you remember where/how you got the train whistle part on top of the circle? I've got the rest pretty well set, but that is a complete mystery to me on how to do. Thanks!

well done!

no cut sheet, what size bolts ? very incomplete plans considering i joined a 3 yr program to get better. Whats up with this?

Hi Jim, I'm just an average guy that tossed this on here. The plans are what they are....probono. Enjoy.

Ok. This is amazing. One quick question... How on earth did you cut a perfect circle from the MDF? The only way I know how is to draw the circle from a center point then use a jigsaw, but it never comes out perfect... Is there a trick you used?

We cut (nearly) perfect circles with the router. We found a jig pattern online, I call it my banjo cause it looks like one. It gets screwed to the bottom of the router base. I sandwiched ours with the router base on the bottom so it's still smooth sailing, and got extra long screws to replace the shorter ones. You put a nail in the "neck" of the banjo and into the board you're cutting and spin the router around.