Introduction: House-shaped Kid's Bed

A few months ago I built a house-shaped bed for my three-year-old son, and he's been very happy with it. A friend asked me about instructions, and I thought I would post them here. I didn't plan to make an instructable from the start, so the only pictures of the progress are the ones I happened to make.

First, a quick google search for "house-shaped bed" will give you plenty of proof that the idea didn't come from me. In fact, I looked at many pictures of other beds to figure out how I wanted to build mine. There are many available for sale, but I wanted to build it myself.

Here are the tools I used:

  • drill
  • dowel helper set
  • drill guide
  • palm sander, or some kind of sanding machine
  • straps to hold things in place while glue is drying
  • screwdriver

Step 1: Figuring Out the Dimensions

The dimensions will probably change based on the standard size for kid's mattresses where you live, but for german standards that's 140x70cm (note, Ikea has smaller mattresses).

The height is less important, but looking at other beds I went with 110cm for the base of the roof, which turns out to be quite right.

The thickness of the wood I got was 44x44mm, with some 44x74mm for the bottom part and 44x24mm for the bed slats. If you use the same structure as me (see below), the only part that's affected by the thickness of the wood are the dimensions of the diagonal pieces for the roof. My son is about 15kg, and even the long parts hold without bending when he's hanging with his entire weight.

Here are the dimensions I got:

  • Sides
    • 110cm x 44mm x 44mm (4x)
  • Roof
    • 140cm x 44mm x 44mm (3x)

    • 70cm x 44mm x 44mm (2x)

    • 55,72cm x 44mm x 44mm, with corners cut at 45 degree angles (4x). This is the dimension I used, the dimension for other cases can be calculated with ((mattress width / 2) + (thickness of wood)) x √2

  • Bottom
    • 140cm x 74mm x 44mm(2x)
    • 70cm x 74mm x 44mm(2x)

  • Bed slats
    • 140cm x 44mm x 44mm (2x)

    • Approximately 69,5cm x 20mm x 44mm (16x), this should be slightly narrower than the matttress width

Step 2: Getting the Parts

I got the wood from a hardware store. I found some pine wood that was already relatively smooth ("gehobelt" in German, not sure what it's called in English), but it came in sizes of 2m and 3m, which I had cut down to the right dimension on site. Be careful when you pick the wood, look out for knots and cracks. I ended up sanding all the parts with a palm sander, as the wood wasn't smooth enough for kids to play around.

Figuring out the best way to combine the pieces was a bit tricky and it took me some time with a pen and paper to get it right, but here's what I did in the end (and also the instructions I gave to the guy that cut the wood).

  • 74x44mm - 2m
    • 70cm, 70cm
  • 74x44mm - 3m
    • 140cm, 140cm
  • 44x44mm - 2m (5x)
    • 140cm, 55,72cm (the latter only needed 4x)
  • 44x44mm - 3m (2x)
    • 110cm, 110cm, 70cm

Note that the numbers don't add up exactly, so you'll have some leftover pieces. Ask to have those, as they will be very practical to practice on.

In addition you will need the following items:

  • wood glue
  • dowels (at least 32 if I counted correctly)
  • long screws - I used 10cm x 5mm ones (you will need 16, I miscounted and had to go back to the hardware store)
  • 32 small screws to fix the bed slats

Step 3: Building the Sides

The sides are built first. They are held in place with dowels and glue. My first trials without proper tools failed pretty miserably, so I strongly recommend getting a dowel set and a drill guide if you don't have those yet.

I won't get into the details of where to do the holes exactly, generally you want to do the following:

  • Each piece should be fixed with two dowels so that it can't rotate.
  • Mark what piece goes where with a pencil.
  • Do all your work with the pieces of wood on the floor or on a table, so that things stay straight.
  • To hold things together while the glue was drying, I used some straps usually used to tighten things on a car.

Glue the rectangular part of each side, and then add the diagonal "roof" parts on top.

Step 4: Putting the House Together

Once the sides are done, you can put them together by connecting them with the longer pieces using 16 long 100mm x 5mm screws. All holes are pre-drilled.

The bottom parts which are thicker get two screws each, the top of the roof also gets two screws, and the bottom of the roof gets one screw and a dowel (to prevent the piece from rotating). None of these attachments use glue, so that I can easily take the bed apart in the future.

Step 5: Building the Bed Slats

The bed slats are simply two long pieces of wood with thinner boards screwed on top. The bed slats are not attached to the bed, they are just placed in the bed frame.

Step 6: Wood Finish

Before applying the finish, I went over the entire bed once more with the palm sander. I used this to cheat a bit to hide parts that didn't fit together too well.

For the finish, I chose some liquid beeswax solution. I found some that didn't have any solvent in it, try to get something like that if you can. If you get a finish that has solvents in it, make sure you let everything dry and air properly before making a kid sleep in it.

The application was simply done with a piece of old t-shirt. A small can of finish was sufficient for three coats.

Step 7: Conclusion

All in all, this was a really fun project. It took me a few days of work in total, but a good part of it was due to trial and error, or just having forgotten something. Hopefully with these instructions you won't need as much time to build a house bed and make some kids happy too.

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