Simple & Stylish Toddler Bed for Under $40

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About: I'm a husband, a parent and an 8th grade science teacher.
As a parent, I am constantly learning new things about my daughter’s likes and dislikes. I recently learned that her all-in-one bed is pointless if she will not sleep in it. It was supposed to transform with the growing needs of our child, but try telling her that. Our original toddler bed is just a crib with one of the sides removed, so when she saw that her cousin is sleeping in a big kid bed she wanted no part of the all-in-one crib "for babies". I searched for a cheap solution because before you know it she will be in a twin-sized bed. The options are not good. Cheap ones fail with weight greater than 40 lbs. so we can’t sit at the foot of the bed to read to her. The beefier ones cost the same as an adult bed.

Before you think that this is too tough for you to make please keep in mind that ANYONE can do it if I can do it. I own a circular saw but I rather use a hand saw for quick cuts and if it were not for the pilot holes you wouldn’t need a drill. If you never made something like this before, this is the perfect time to start!

I decided to solve this problem for every parent in my situation.

The goal was to:

            A.    Use the original crib mattress

            B.    Use minimal tools

            C.    Be safe and durable enough to support 200+ lbs.

            D.    Make it look attractive

            E.    Pay less than $50 in materials (my total was under $40)

I started by measuring the mattress. A standard crib mattress in the United States is 2714 in × 5158 in and that matched my mattress. For ease of measuring I called it 28”x52”, the original crib also had some wiggle room.

I made a rough drawing of what I wanted and made a materials list and went shopping. I would show you my masterpiece sketch but it looked nothing like what I ended up with. Most of my projects I just wing-it anyway. The bed police are not going fine you if you are off a ½ inch.

Step 1:

I started by measuring the mattress. A standard crib mattress in the United States is 2714 in × 5158 in and that matched my mattress. For ease of measuring I called it 28”x52”, the original crib also had some wiggle room.

I made a rough drawing of what I wanted and made a materials list and went shopping. I would show you my masterpiece sketch but it looked nothing like what I ended up with. Most of my projects I just wing-it anyway. The bed police are not going fine you if you are off a ½ inch.I am no Norm Abram so I do not have a dado bit or a wood lathe. The style I was going for was an unfinished wood look. This gave me the ability to use straight lumber with minimal detail. It could be called Modern Homested Style (I kinda just made that up)

The wood used is just the cheap white softwood found anywhere. It is sometimes called “common board” or “white board” and is a lower grade due to the high amount of knots. It is pre-sanded, very smooth and ready to paint if you want. It is perfectly acceptable to build a kid bed out of this wood; in fact, I will be using it for all of my wood projects from now on.

Purchase list:

   1.      1x4x10’ (x1)   ~$5.00 total

   2.      1x4x8’   (x3)   ~$12.00 total

   3.      1x2x8’   (x5)    ~$5.00 total

   4.      #6 x 1¼” wood screws 100 count  ~$5.00

Tool list:

             1.      Hand saw

             2.      Drill with 1/16” drill bit and Philips bit

             3.      Measuring tape 

             4.      Wood glue

             5.      Pencil

             6.      Carpenters square (not required)

             7.      Power saw (not required)

             8.      Nail gun (not required)

             9.      18-guage 1 3/16” brads (not required)

       Cut list: 

             1.      Cut (2) 53 ½ inch boards from the 10 foot 1x4.

             2.      Cut (3) 29 ½ inch, (2) 28 inch, (2) 26 inch, and (2) 18 ½ inch boards from the (3) 8 foot 1x4’s.

             3.      Cut (2) 52 inch, and (9) 28 inch boards from the 8 foot 1x2’s

 

Step 2:

The above cut list sounds like a lot of cutting for a handsaw, but trust me, I did it in no time with a cheap $20 saw.

Once you have the parts cut, it is half way done. Ikea furniture is basically the same thing (just $200 more).

Start by laying out the two 53 ½” and two 28” boards in the form of a rectangle. This is the frame for the mattress. Notice the longer board ends are on the outside of the shorter boards. Once you are sure that your mattress will fit inside, then you want to glue, drill, and screw it together. Two screws each should hold it. It is a bit flimsy at this point but it will be braced next.

Step 3:

Next are the mattress supports. The 2 long 1x2’s run along the inside of the frame. These sit flush to the bottom. Four screws each and glue will hold it in place. The rest of the 1x2’s are evenly spaced and are held in place by one screw on each end.

Step 4:

The legs are next, the two 26” and the two 18 ½” will become the head board and foot board legs respectively. The distance between the floor and the bottom of the bed frame is 8”. Four screws and some glue per leg will hold it secure. I am happy with the height of the bed but you may customize it if you wish. I chose 8” because the crib/bed was 8” and I was still able to slide a storage bin under it for extra bedding.
PLEASE NOTE: As you may have noticed there are a few differences between the instructions and pictures. One being the fact that the foot board is the same height as the head board in some of the pictures. I cut the foot board after I took
the pictures because I thought it looked better. The instructions reflect the change. Another difference is the obvious use of a nail gun, this was just to "tack" the boards together and is not needed.  

Step 5:

Last is the tops of the head/foot boards. Just attach two of the remaining 29 ½ inch boards flush to the top of the legs. The head board gets the extra one in between the top and the bed frame. Finish it up by painting it if you want, but it looks fine the way it is.

The best part is that you can use all the same bedding as the crib. I had a bed skirt that fit perfect and already matched the room.

5 People Made This Project!

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15 Discussions

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FbnV

Question 3 months ago on Introduction

Hi just a simple question where to buy the wood..?
Lowes maybe

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w0161748

1 year ago

HOw do the instructions differ if using 2x4? Also how do you get the grooves to hold mattress in frame?

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tjessew0161748

Reply 1 year ago

It's not a groove, it's a 1x2 on each side. They are the two 52" 1x2s (#3 on the cut list).

As far as using 2x4s... I'm not sure my instructions will work for you but if you have the mattress then just start cutting and screwing wood around it until it looks like a bed. Then make an instructable, that's what I did.

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mlbumiller

2 years ago

Some lumber yards with cut the pieces for you for free or low fee. I will be making couple of these for my dogs. The toddler mattress is just perfect for two or three to lay together on. bought a commercial one at a garage sale and they love it

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MatthewP25

3 years ago on Step 5

made a few adjustments, but love your design. I've never built anything before! Feel so proud. I used 1x6 instead of 1x4, lowered it a bit, and used leftover 1x2 to top the headboard and footboard.

Thank you for posting this! Feels really good to make something for my kid instead of buying something, and he got to help sand and prime!

IMG_20150801_221517.jpg
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tjesseMatthewP25

Reply 3 years ago on Step 5

That made my day! That bed is a tank and will last forever too. Nice job.

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MatthewP25tjesse

Reply 3 years ago on Step 5

that's why I posted! Thank you so much for posting this project!

not sure if my message went through, do you have measurements for your bed? I like the rails you put on!

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Very easy build. finished in about 4 hours including the trip to the store and paint. I added a safety rail to give my daughter a feeling of security when transferring from the crib.

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rolfy12

5 years ago on Introduction

Great job!

My one suggestion: If I were going to be sitting on the bed, I would put some lengths on the insides of the legs from the floor to the frame, just so the fasteners and glue holding the legs to the ends of the frame aren't taking all my weight. Might also better survive bed-jumping.

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tjesserolfy12

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

I am over 200 lbs and it doesn't even creak when I sit on it. My wife and daughter can lay on it and together are 150 lbs (notice how I didn't specify how much my wife weighs). I would never discourage someone from adding more supports; however, I have looked at hundreds of kids beds and this design I think will last. I has also been "monkey on the bed" tested. BTW: I love your wood box Instructable.

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rolfy12tjesse

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Sometimes I have a tendency to overbuild. This would be one more case, eh?