Have you been bed shopping for kids? They're either expensive or lacking some unique creativity - and i can't blame them, i mean after all it's just a bed. It's where we sleep and rest our heads ... or so I thought...
When we started this project I was a little hesitant in believing Bennett would love his new bed and struggled to decide if we should move forward with the project. Yet, when we revealed his new bed to him, our hearts melted with love and our heads exploded with amazement to see how proud he was of his big kid bed.
When we first set out to start this project, we went onto Pinterest for inspiration and we took our favourites aspects of several other kids beds and blended them together to come up with this design. However, when we were looking on Pinterest, we didn't come across many how-to's for this bed so we've put this one together in hopes of helping anyone who wants to make this bed for their own kiddo. I've broken this down into 2 sections: The Base and The Fort
First off, here's the supplies you'll need for The Base:
- 3 x 8 Foot, 2" x 8" Pine Boards
- 2 x 8 Foot, 2" x 3" Pine Boards
- 1 x 8 Foot, 4" x 4" Cedar Post (you only actually need 2')
- 3" Screws (package of 50)
- 2.5" Screws (about 12)
Since we're using a twin/single mattress (38" x 75"), this design is specific to that size, although some simple math can be done if your mattress is a different size.
To start, cut one of the 2 x 8's into two 39" pieces. Cut the longer sides 78.5". On a flat surface (we used our garage floor), screw the ends together with the long pieces overlapping the short ones as seen below:
If your boards are bowing, be sure to put the bow facing inwards towards the bed. When the slats are put in if it's an aggressive bow you can put a brace in the middle to push the boards out.
Next, its time to make the legs. On a lot of DIY projects i've seen, whether due to inexperience or maybe laziness, a lot of people will take the easy way out and just screw the leg to the inside of the frame. Wanting more of a sleek look, I had cut out a 4x4 post to fit in the spot behind the corner of the 2 x 8's so the edges of the post and the bed were in line.
To give you an idea of what we did, here's a picture of what the leg looks like after being cut.
To start the leg, cut your 4 x 4 post into four 6" sections. You can pick whichever height you'd like, but the important part is to have a 2.5" cut out that sticks up behind the 2 x 8's. This height will be where the bed slats rest allowing the mattress to sit low enough in the frame.
To cut these posts like this, we used a table saw set at 2.5" deep to make the vertical cuts (hold the post standing upright when pushed through table saw). The rail was set back to 1.5" so the 2 x 8's could sit flush on the post cuts. As you're going to be cutting deep, be sure to have patience and a sharp blade! You could also do this with a reciprocating saw (use clamps to keep hands away) or if need be, an old fashioned hand saw.
Once we had four posts cut down, we used our 3" screws to screw the posts from two sides.
We're on the home stretch now. The next step is to cut the rails that the IKEA bed slats will sit on. Since we cut the bed for a 75" mattress and the posts stick in 1.5" on each end, we cut our rails at 72". Screw the rails onto the inside of the bed with 2.5" screws from the inside towards the out. We secured them so the top of the rail would be 2.5" from the bottom of the bed (the same height as the 2 x 3 (the convenient reason we chose this kind of board).
Flip it over, roll out the IKEA slats and you've got yourself a solid kid's bed base!
You could stop here and use just the frame of the bed because it's really cute and incredibly sturdy on its own. However, 'The Fort' part of the bed really adds the fun element for kids. They can use the top to hang string lights, hang toys, or cover it with blankets to make their bed into a hide-out. If you are going to build 'The Fort' part of the bed, now is a good time to take a break, so go have a beer, it's about to get a bit more difficult. See below for part two.
We're back and excited to see you've stuck with us here. So now that we've got the frame we need to make The Fort, here's what you'll need:
- 8 x 8 Foot, 2" x 3"
- 6 x 3", 1/4" Furniture Bolt
- 6 x 1/4" Wood Insert Nut - 8 x 3" #10 screws
We didn't take many pictures but did do a little time lapse video which is at the bottom.
To start we want to square off the edges of the 2 x 3's. You probably don't have to do square the edges, but it's more of a personal preference thing. I cut off 1/4" off two sides to square it out.
Next, we need to determine our height. We chose to cut our vertical pieces at 53" to the long side. On the bottom side, it's a flat cut that rests on the bed leg. On the top, we cut a 45° with the short side on the outside of the bed - make 4 of these cuts.
The next cut is the diagonal boards that connect the vertical boards to the top of the frame. Now this is where it gets difficult (for me at least). Since this is a simple triangle we can figure out the length of these boards with only two numbers. Since our width is 39" wide and we know the angle is 45°, we can use math to figure this out - actually i just used this handy calculator --> click here - results are below:
So now we know we need to cut the diagonal board at 27.57" (I rounded to 27 and 5/8ths inches). So on one end, there is a flat cut and on the other end, make a cut 27.57" to the short end and cut at a 45° so the long side is on the bottom (the long side will be about 29.5").
Now that you've made four of them, it's time to move on to making the lap joints. For this, I used the mitre saw with the depth set to make cuts at 1.25". This will take some playing around with, but to get you started, you need to make 12 lap cuts for the 6 joints.
It's important to think in opposites here as the diagonal pieces and vertical pieces will overlap on opposing sides. I found it helpful to lay them out on the floor as I cut them to ensure they were fitting together properly.
For the vertical posts, cut the half-lap cut facing the inside of the bed. To gauge how much length you need to do this, set up one of the cutoff ends as a thickness guide. The cuts will be the same direction as the existing 45°. Be sure to only go half the depth through the wood. Make multiple cuts and when you have enough done, get a chisel to knock of the pieces. I seriously dropped the ball on the pictures on this one, but this guy has a great youtube video showing you how to set up the saw and depth - yours will be different, but process is the same:
For the vertical/diagonal lap joints on the diagonal boards, make the half-lap cut facing the outside. Use the same setup as the previous step. For the diagonal/diagonal joint, make two of the half-lap cuts facing outward and two facing inwards. This will leave you with two diagonal boards with half-lap cuts on the same side on both ends and two with half-lap cuts on opposite sides of the boards.
Alright let's start assembling. Take the vertical posts and screw them onto the inside corners of the bed. We used 3", #10 screws.
Once these are screwed in, get a 1/4" drill bit and drill holes in the top inch of the vertical pieces, one you're done this, hold your overlap diagonal board behind it and use that first hole as the guide to drill through the second board. Repeat in all four corners and at the top of your 'roofline'.
You'll need a second set of hands for the next part. With the holes drilled in the vertical and diagonal boards, hold a 2x3 horizontally between the two sides, and use your 1/4" drill bit to drill into the board about 2". Once you've done this on all on both sides on all 3 boards, you can use a large flat head screw driver to screw in the wood insert bolts. Once completed, hold back up and use an allan wrench to screw the furniture bolts in. This will suck the boards in and tighten the frame. Be careful not to over tighten as you may strip the wood insert out of it's spot.
Simple, right? Well we're almost done. Now you can sand and stain it or paint it to your preference. We used a Minwax water-based stain in the colour 'Onyx'. We were happy with the results after one coat so we didn't apply a second coat, but you certainly could if you needed to. We let the stain dry for 24 hours and then we took the bed apart, hauled it upstairs, and reassembled it. We hung two sets of these globes with these string lights from the top of the bed. And then we called in the kiddo to see what he thought and he loved it immediately!
Here are the final photos:
I know it looks a little challenging, and it may be, but with a few tools and some patience, you can make it! Give it a try and if you have any questions or comments let us know!