Introduction: Scrap Wood Bunk Bed for American Girl OR 18 Inch Doll

About: I am a mixed media artist living in the Ozarks with my family. I have been published in many magazines including the cover of Sew Somerset.

I'm all about making things for gifts and my youngest daughter has been in need of a doll bed for her 18 inch dolls for some time now. Because she's crafty like me her dolls have had many beds made of cardboard but I thought it was time for a more permanent solution.

This Budget Doll Bunk Bed was made out of 98% recycled supplies. See how it's done and what I used next...

Step 1: 4 Pieces to Make a Bed...

For the main wood pieces of this bed I cut pieces from a recycled real estate sign that was rescued from the burn pile at a local sign shop. Many of those wood signs are covered with a skin of printed vinyl. The edges, most often, have seen their better days and the boards are sometimes warped making them unusable for the printing company. All you have to do is ask if they have any wood scraps etc that they are throwing away and most of the time they will point you to a big pile out back of their business.

So I cut the edges off the 6x8' sheet of plywood to get to the useable wood in the middle. I also removed all the printed vinyl which can be a pain but most of the time it just pulls off with slow deliberate pressure.

Also another note on finding cheap materials if you don't have a sign shop willing to let you browse their trash pile, is to go find a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. They often have lots of SUPER cheap building materials.

1. Cut 2 pieces (the ends) 12" wide by 18" tall. (Now I made this one 12" wide because my daughter has 4 dolls and I wanted a bed wide enough for all of them to fit on without making a bed that reached the ceiling) If you want a skinnier version I would suggest 10" wide.

2. Cut 2 pieces (the bed layers) 12" wide x 20" long. (or if you want a skinnier style bed cut them 10" wide x 20" long)

3. Predrill your screw holes with a drill bit slightly smaller than your screws.

4. Now grow 2 extra hands as you try to hold everything together and run a cordless drill at the same time, Just kidding, ask for help or prop your pieces again a wall as you attach your pieces with screws. I put 4 2" screws per bed "shelf". Two for each end is sufficient.

Step 2: Cut Trim Pieces...

I went to my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore to pick up a piece of fancy trim for the edges of this doll house. It was 10 cents a foot (way cheaper than the hardware store) I bought two 8 foot pieces for 80 cents a piece (these would have cost me around $6 each at Lowes) (be advised that different ReStores charge different prices but all are way cheaper than Retail)

1. Cut your trim pieces to fit your measurements and dry fit the pieces to the bed.

2. Attach the pieces with wood glue and 5/8" brad nails. (I bought a brad nailer at Harber Freight Tools for $12 on sale and it works like a charm, so don't feel you have to pay a ton for expensive brad nailers)

3. Sand the edges of the trim and fill gaps with wood filler. Let dry. Do a final sanding.

4. For the trim on the sides of the bed "shelves" I used 4 Paint stirrer sticks I had left over from my kitchen remodel. I cut the ends off and attached them with wood glue and 5/8" brad nails. (you can see the little dips in the trim where the handle was on the stir stick, I don't mind this and I think it adds a little charm, but use what you have)

Step 3: A Few Final Touches...

1. I found a little wooden shelf with peg hooks at the thrift store for 50 cents and attached it with wood glue and brad nails.

2. I painted the whole bed and all the unfinished wood trim, shelf, and paint stir stick trim with a layer of primer and then two coats of wall paint left over from my kitchen remodel.

3. Collage some cheap scrapbook paper on the inside headboards of the bed. (another idea is to use pages from an old children's book or pages from a parenting magazine.) Let dry.

Step 4: Make Some Bedding...

1. I found some good foam at a yard sale during the summer to recover my kitchen bar stools (which I haven't done yet) and I cut some from it to make the cushions for the bunk bed. Cut 2 pieces each 11 3/4" x 19 3/4". This leaves extra room for the fabric and seams of the cushion cover.

2. Find some fabric at a thrift store, raid your fabric stash, or check out the clearance rack at your local craft store. For a doll bed there is no reason to have to pay full price for fabric. Cut 4 rectangles, two for each cushion, and with wrong sides facing each other sew three of the four sides together.

3. turn right side out, insert foam cushion hand stitch or hot glue the fourth side closed. ( I chose hot glue cause it was easy and it works :-)

4. for the blanket/sheet cut two rectangles of fabric for the top and two rectangles of fabric for the "sheet" part. (you can decide how wide you want the blanket to be, I made mine about 2 inches wider than the bed and about the same length) Place a top piece and a bottom piece wrong sides together and stitch around three sides. Turn right side out, fold the ends of the fourth side to the inside and stitch around the edge of the whole thing. This gives it a very nice finished edge.

5. For pillows you can make them any size you want, different shapes and sizes are fun. I usually buy a cheap pillow for $2 from a home store as you get a lot more fiber fill and a lot cheaper price than if you went to a hobby store and bought a $6 bag. So save your money! - Cut 2 pieces of fabric the same size/shape. Place wrong sides together and stitch around three sides. turn right side out and stuff with bargain fiber fill. Fold the ends of the fourth side inside and stitch across or hand stitch the opening closed.

Now you've got all the pieces to a great toy that cost pennies compared to the overpriced ones at the store and will last your child for years and years to come. Trust me when I say it'll last a lot longer than the plastic ones and be cherished with pride. Enjoy!

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