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When my third son was born, we were living in a very small two bedroom home. There was already a crib and a toddler bed in my boy’s bedroom leaving no room for my baby.
To make a place for him, I decided to get some bunk beds for my older boys so I could put him in the crib.
The room was pretty small and it was starting to feel really crowded, so I wanted to get bunk beds that had extra storage space beneath the beds. I also wanted a set that had shelves or storage space for some of my boy’s favorite toys.
I spent a couple days looking through website after website for any bunk beds that fit both these needs.
Sadly, I didn’t find any that had what I was looking for. The ones that came the closest were priced at $800 or more!
That was way out of my family’s budget, so looked for some existing plans I could use to build my own.
After looking through dozens of DIY toddler bunk bed plans, I still wasn’t able to find a set that had what I needed.
I mapped out on paper a general design that I was looking for and decided to build my own.
I watched hours of woodworking and design videos then downloaded some free design software to create my plans.
It took a couple days to design the bunk beds exactly how I wanted.
At the time, I was home with my newborn on maternity leave so it was an excellent project to keep me busy. I had so much fun designing and building them!
I ended up building two sets of bunk beds. One for my own boys and another for my mom to have for her grandkids when they stayed overnight.
It’s been almost three years since they were built and they’re still as sturdy as ever.
They’ve stood up to everything my boys have put them through and they look just as nice as they did in the beginning!
How to Get Started
To start with you’ll need to pick up all the wood, tools, and supplies needed to build these beds.
You should be able to find all the wood at your local department store. I picked mine up from Home Depot.
I would strongly recommend you pick out every piece of wood for your bunk beds in person.
As you look through the wood, you’ll see that some are bent, warped, or have too many holes to be usable.
You want to look for straight, solid pieces that look nice!
I found a few reviews from people who purchased wood online and when it arrived, half of it was unusable.
Wood Needed for Top & Bottom Bunk Combined
- 2X4 – 66 feet ≈ $42
- 2×2 – 24 feet ≈ $6
- 2×8 – 15 feet ≈ $18
- 2×6 – 30 feet ≈ $28
- 1×8 – 15 feet ≈ $20
- 1×3 – 70 feet ≈ $24
- Plywood for Headboard ≈ $25
Tools Used to Build Bunk Beds – Required
- Kreg Jig w/ Clamp & Screws: Of all the tools I used, this one is a must! This allows you to build your bunk beds without having screws visible everywhere pieces are connected. Instead of just drilling pieces together, the Kreg jig creates pocket holes to hide them in. Watch this short instructional video to see how it works!
- Kreg Right Angle Clamp: This is designed to hold firmly hold pieces of wood together at a 90-degree angle that already has the pocket holes drilled.
- Kreg Clamp – Extra Long 6″: Since my beds built out of several pieces of wood that were bigger than the standard 2×4, the clamp that came with the Kreg Jig set didn’t always work. I used this one to hold together the wider pieces.
- Drill: I got this drill for the project because it’s fairly cheap. It did the job fine. However, if you’re going to be doing a lot more woodwork projects, I’d recommend a higher quality one.
- Electric Sander: To smooth the wood down so your kids won’t get slivers, you’re going to be doing a lot of sanding! I started out with a simple hand sander but quickly realized I was never going to get the job done without an electric sander. This one worked great!
- Kreg Pocket Hole Screws: I wanted some high-quality screws that would make my beds sturdy and also didn’t want to have to worry about stripping the screws. These were perfect! I used the 1.5-inch screws anywhere the screw was going into a short piece of wood that was approximately two inches wide. I got some longer screws that were 2.5 inches anywhere the screw would be going into a long piece of wood.
- Sandpaper: I used several grit levels of sandpaper to make my beds really smooth. I started with 80-grit and moved up to 400 grit to make sure my boys wouldn’t be getting slivers from the beds.
- Measuring Tape: Every single piece of wood I cut was measured and re-measured to make sure it was exactly the right length! If each piece isn’t cut to the right dimensions, the bed will be unstable and it will not come together properly as you’re building it.
- Brown Mahogany Stain: I used this beautiful brown mahogany stain by General Finishes for my beds. I applied three coats of it (with sanding in between) to get the color I wanted. In between each coat, I let it dry for 24-48 hours.
- High-Performance Water Based Topcoat: To protect any wood built project, you want to complete it by applying a coat of finish. This will protect it from scratches and normal wear and tear. It will also give it a shiny, finished look that feels smooth to the touch. I applied three coats of this to my beds with a very light hand sanding in between each coat.
- Small Foam Brushes: I started out using a wood varnish brush but these worked a lot better to get a smooth layering of stain without bleeds.
- Paint Sticks: These were used to stir the stain and the finish to make sure it was mixed well
- Paint & Staining Rags: Using staining rags helps you to get a smooth, evenly applied layer of stain
- Painters Plastic: My bunk beds were built in a detached garage so I used this plastic to keep stain off the floor and dirt off the bunk beds.
- Painting Gloves: When you’re staining anything, you’re probably going to get stain on your hands if you don’t have gloves. It’s very hard to get off your hands and the chemicals aren’t good for your skin so I’d always recommend using protective gloves. This box came with a set of 100 gloves and they worked great.
Other Supplies/Tools I Used
- Pocket Hole Plugs: These can be used to cover up all the pocket holes that hide the screws. They fit perfectly into the pockets made with the Kreg Jig. Using these will make it harder to take the bed apart in the future if you need to. You’d have to get these out to get to the screws and they can be hard to remove. When I moved I didn’t take my beds apart, I just unstacked the top from the bottom and moved them each separately.
- Miter Saw: A miter saw is an excellent tool to cut your wood down to the size you need. However, these are very expensive! It cost more than the wood, tools, and supplies combined will! I wouldn’t recommend buying your own unless you plan to build several more projects down the road. I borrowed one from a friend while I was building my bunk beds. You can also ask someone at your local department store to cut each of your wood pieces down to size. However you do it, just make sure they’re cut to exactly the right size!
- Folding Table: This isn’t a must for this project but it certainly makes the job easier. It gives you an even surface to work on at whatever height is comfortable for you. I used two of these side by side to build my beds on.
- Baby Monitor: When I build these bunk beds, my son was a newborn. I didn’t want him around the noise, sanding dust, and staining chemicals I was using but I needed a way to hear if he woke up. This baby monitor worked great and I didn’t have any problems with it going out of range even though I built the beds in a detached garage.
Pictures Before & After Staining
You’ll notice in my pictures there are two different sets of bunk beds.
One is the set I built for my boys while the other is the set I built for my mom when she has the grandkids over!
The designs are slightly different because my mom asked me to make a few modifications on her set.
I wanted lots of storage space underneath my beds because, as you can see in the pictures, we were maxed out on space!
Would You Like to Build Your Own Set?
I’m interested in hearing what you think of these bunk beds. Would you be interested in building your own set?
I have the original plans and instructions I put together when I built mine and I’ve been wondering about putting them up here.
The plans include detailed instructions on the following:
- Dimensions for each piece of the bed
- Instructions for spacing each piece
- Parts lists
- Instructional videos that show you how to use a Kreg jig to drill pocket holes, the proper way to sand for a smooth finish, and instructions on staining them.
- Detailed steps I took to build my beds (sanding, cutting, drilling, making pocket holes, which size of screws to use, staining, restaining, and adding a smooth finish)
- Steps to make building go much quicker.
- Options for customizing these bunk beds
What do you think of these toddler bunk beds? Have you built or wondered about building your own set for your kids?
Do you have any questions for me? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
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