Introduction: Tepee-shaped Kid's Bed

About: I'm a web developer and I enjoy outdoors a lot

I once saw a picture of a toddler bed looking like a tepee on the Internet. I immediately added this idea in my todo list, my kid would love it!

Here is the picture

A few weeks later I went to the local hardware store and bought the necessary wood.

In this Instructable I will show you how I made it.

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Step 1: Material and Tools

To make this bed you will need:

  • Seven eight-foot-long 1"x2" -or- four eight-foot-long 1"x4" that you rip in two
  • One 4x4ft 1/2" MDF sheet
  • Six hex flathead bolts and six barrel nuts
  • A bunch of wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • Sand paper (various grits)
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Masking tape

I used basic woodworking tools:

  • Circular saw
  • Table saw
  • Drill
  • Orbital sander
  • Compass
  • Clamps
  • Square
  • ...

Those are quite common and available in many people's house, except maybe the table saw which is not strictly mandatory, it could be replaced by a router (for the groves and rabbets).

Step 2: Cut to Length

My kids mattress is 133cm long by 70cm wide. I didn't want the structure to be higher than 1.4 meters and preferred not to have the mattress lying directly on the floor. Based on these criteria I created a 3D model of what I wanted to accomplish (enclosed). This helped getting the measurement of each piece of wood:

  • Legs: 4 x 1610mm
  • Transversals: 3 x 1330mm
  • Spacers: 2 x 780mm

I first cut the 4 longest pieces (legs) and used the scrap later for the 2 spacers (you don't need to cut them yet). Then I cut the 3 transversal pieces.

Then, I figured that the slats would need some support to be fastened on so I ripped one of the remaining wood from the transversals into 2 pieces of the same width, and cut them to the same length as the transversals.

Step 3: Drill Upper Holes

Drill a hole on each leg to the bolts diameter. The distance between one end of the leg and the hole should be approx. 1303mm.

Step 4: Mark the Cuts, Groves and Rabbets Lines

In order to have the faces of the legs and the spacers living in the same plane, we need to do some groves an rabbets at the intersections.

One method would be to measure the distances from the 3D model, but this is risky and time consuming. I prefered pre-mounting the parts with bolts and clamps and draw the lines in place.

For each intersection we need to draw 4 lines: 2 on each piece of wood.

Don't forget to mark the cut on the lower end of the legs, using a spare piece of wood.

Report the lines on the side so you can see them when facing down, also marking where the material should be remove is a good way to prevent Murphy's law to happen...

Step 5: Cut, Grove and Rabbet

I'm using the table saw, with several passes, to make the groves and rabbets. First I needed to make a mitre fence on my sled so I could repeat the angles without worries.

To place the mitre fence correctly I used a square against the sled's fence and aligned with one of the markings. I draw a line along the piece of wood. This line is where the fence should be. I simply bolt a piece of scrap wood there.

It is very important to set correctly the depth of the cut to the exact half thickness of the wood. I used a compass to find the equidistant line and set the height of the blade accordingly.

In my design there are 2 pairs of different angles. I've been able to do the ones for the spacers using the mitre fence technique, but I couldn't do the same with the ones on the upper legs because they were to obtuse and/or my sled was too short. I then used the wiggly mitre gauge that comes as an accessory of this table saw.

Don't forget to cut through each end of the spacers and the lower end of the legs.

Step 6: Round Upper Corners

With a compass draw a semicircle on the upper end of the legs and round them with the method of your choice.

Here I used the 4-in-1 drill press I built based on plans provided by Gökmen on Youtube.

Step 7: Drill Lower Holes

Now that our pieces are (should be) fitting quite nicely we can assemble them and drill some holes at the intersection of the legs with the spacers. Use the same diameter as your bolts.

Step 8: Build the Bed Frame

The slats need to rest on something solid: the bed frame.

We are using the pieces of wood that we ripped at the beginning. Align them with the transversals, use some glue, screws and clamps to produce a strong assembly.

Because we want our bed to be collapsible (it would't go through the doors otherwise) we are using bolts and barrel nuts fastening. thus it requires us to drill two connected holes, on each end, with quite some precision: one for the bolt and one for the barrel nut (on the bottom face, so it is not visible).

Tips: I chose to center the bolt's hole on the end-face but during the assembly I figured out that it would have been better to drill 2 holes on that face: one for the bolt and one for a dowel. This should prevent rotation of the transversals, plus the barrel nut wouldn't be that deep/far to reach.

Step 9: Sand

Sand all your pieces, mount the legs with the spacers in order to trim/sand the excess on the joints.

Wipe all the dust with a clean rag.

Step 10: Assemble and Measure

Now we need to take some measurements for our slats.

Mount the bed and measure the width and length of the slats space. I got about 69.5cm wide on each side close to the legs but much less at the middle of the transversals: 66cm. That's because the wood isn't perfectly straight and it's ok. We are taking the largest number, the slats will impose the shape to the frame and make it straighter.

Based on the length we can determine how many slats we need, for instance 7 is a multiple of 133 (133 / 7 = 19) so I chose to create 7 slats.

I want the slats to be spaced with about 4cm separating each other so each slate should measure about 15cm wide.

tl;dr: Build 7 slats measuring 15cm by 70cm.

Step 11: Make the Slats

Using the material of your choice, here a 1/5" MDF sheet, cut the slats.

I first ripped a 70cm-long piece from the sheet using my home-made circular-saw guide. Then I ripped the 7 slats from it with the table saw. I used my cross-cut sled to trim the ends of each slat in order to clean the first cut.

I pre-drilled each slats using my drill press and to make this repetitive process mind-free and faster I just used two clamps and some pieces of scrap wood I got from the bed frame to create a fence. Make sure the hole is centered on the scrap wood, then add a stop bloc.

Placing each of the 4 corners of each slat against the fence and the stop block I was sure to drill fast and perfect holes.

Step 12: Fasten the Slats

Now it's time to fasten the slats to the bed frame.

In order to know the exact distance that should separate each slat I just regrouped them on one side of the frame, except one on the other side.
I measured the large space and divided it between 6 (7 slats minus 1). Then I cut two pieces of scrap wood to that dimension, I will use them as temporary spacers.

Fasten the leftmost and the rightmost slats first. Then fasten the other ones using the spacers.

Remember to pre-drill or your wood will split.

Step 13: Paint

Now that our bed assembly is finished we can protect it with whatever we'd like. I loved the design in the original picture and chose to repeat it. Using masking tape I protected the blots (unscrew them a bit first) and temporary filed the barrel holes with paper. I delimited the paint zone with more masking tape.

I first applied a coat of primer, then 2 coats of paint, waiting after each coat for it to dry completely. Ideally you'd like to protect the natural/unpainted wood with a clear coating.
I didn't have it at the time I built the bed and will buy some later.

Wait for the last coat to dry completely and remove the masking tape. You can disassemble the bed now to transport it into your kid's room. Marking the inner faces of the joints with numbers can help the reassembly process a lot ;)

Step 14: Conclusion

This bed looks nice and my kid loves it!

It is quite light and easy to transport. Also it wasn't expensive to make (about 18USD).

If I had to make it again I would rather choose 2x2" instead of 1x2". This would make it more durable and render a nicer look.

If you have any comment or suggestion, please write it down below!

Thanks your for reading, and good luck!

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