My youngest grand-daughter had outgrown her cot-bed. Her bedroom is a bit of an odd shape, having a 'box' above the staircase which takes up quite a bit of room. So, I volunteered to make a bed that would fit over it and make the most of the limited space (she's only 3 and already has more bedroom furnature than I do). Jessica is mad on her cuddly toy, Mr. Bunny. She takes it everywhere. Whilst planning out the bed I thought it may be a good idea to try to make it in the shape of Mr Bunny. I did a quick sketch to see if people would like it and immediately it was a winner. Unfortunately, I could no longer build a simple bed ... it had to be a Mr. Bunny bed!
Here is my design sketch, drawn using Google SketchUp;
I decided to make this bed (almost) entirely from MDF. Now, I know MDF dust can be a bit nasty but the boards are really cheap ... 2440mm x 1220mm x 18mm for less than £15. So, I bought a new dust mask and try to use it whenever I can.
I also need the bed to be able to be dismantled, mainly because I need to transport it to it's final location and so it all needs to fit in my car. To cater for this I want as little as possible to be glued, just screws and bolts for easy assembly. Another requirement was to have no visible fixings and joints. I had bought a dowling jig a while back and thought it would come in handy for such joints. This jig (from Wolfcraft) has performed really well, making accurate and tight joints. I also wanted the headboard to be separate from the bed, so that the bed could be pulled out if needed. I could also fix the headboard to the wall and so prevent it from falling on the little one.
Once I had built the side rails (arms & legs) and the steps (to give the elevation up to 'box' height) I wanted to see the rough overall size and how well these items looked together. This wasn't really nessecary ... but I got a bit excited.
This was the proper fit-up as it allowed me to size the rails that hold the slats ... and to lay on the slats to see if I had done enough. As it happened, the span of the slats was a bit too wide for their thickness and looked a bit wobbly. I dodn't want any legs or supports under the bed as I wanted it to be open to maximise storage space. So I decided to make a centre beam (and supports) to give the extra strength ... as I can imagine a 3 year old having a good old bounce at some point. This is where a 'dry' fit-up proves it's worth, you can spot some tweaks in the design that you can't predict on paper.
This is the crowning glory for the bed. I wanted it to have some depth so that it wasn't just a painted face on a bit of board. Again, I needed to be able to transport it easily. The design for the 'layered' look allowed me to use lots of smaller pieces of board, yet still hide all the joints and fixings. Here you can see the dry fit-up of the headboard, although it still needs final shaping & sanding.
Painting & Varnishing
The Finished Product