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Doll Bunk Beds for American Girl Doll and 18" Doll

August 12, 2011 |
posted by Ana White
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Make your own doll bed for American Girl Doll or other 18" Doll. This sturdy wood doll bed is quick and easy and inexpensive to make. Free step by step plans to DIY a doll bed for your American Girl.

Doll Bunk Beds for American Girl Doll and 18" Doll

Handmade from this plan >>

Projects built from this plan. Thank you for submitting brag posts, it's appreciated by all!

About Project

Author Notes: 

Today was my daughter's friend's birthday. The Birthday Girl has been talking quite a bit about getting her first American Girl doll, so Grace and I thought we'd make her a bunk bed.

Not entirely sure why I waited until Wednesday afternoon to start cutting boards.  Good thing this bed only took me an hour or so to put together.
Well, I DO know why.  I have a very good well thought out reason.  Not.  No really, I do.  
Because if I'd built it last week, it wouldn't really be new by the time we gifted it.
And can you blame them?  I love this bed because the top bunk sits at playing height, perfect for my littlest niece, just two years old, all the way up to her eight year old big sister.
And I won't put the photos up (my apologies to the sweet Birthday Girl), but I actually caught THREE of them standing on the top bunk.  This bed has been load tested for at least 100 pounds of live load.  Live and giggling and tickling and bouncing.
That darn orange crayon!
And I know that American Girl dolls now come in different complexions and hair styles to match their owners . . . 
But I do not recall "Beach Hair" (we'll be sweet) as an option.

We love this bed because . . .

There's room for two.  Or one and Coconut.  Or Pepper.  Or Chocolate Chip.  
The top bunk is just the right height for playing.
It won't break the bank to build.  As shown here, $10.
And you can make your own mattress with this super easy tutorial.  I'm talking super super easy!  As in so easy I can do this!
And most importantly, make this bed because the girls love it!

Dimensions

Dimensions: 
Doll Bunk Beds for American Girl Doll and 18" Doll
Dimensions: 
Dimensions are shown above.

Materials and Tools

Shopping List: 

3 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
1 - 1x1 @ 8 feet long (look for a square trim board that measures 3/4" x 3/4" or if you have a tablesaw, rip a 1x2 in half)
Scrap hardboard, 1/4" plywood or other sheet goods
Use either the pocket holes or regular screws:

2 inch screws
1 1/4 inch finish nails
1 1/4 inch pocket hole screws
wood glue
wood filler
120 grit sandpaper
primer
wood conditioner
paint
paint brush
Tools: 
measuring tape
square
pencil
safety glasses
hearing protection
drill
circular saw
nailer
sander
level
countersink drill bit

Cut List

Cut List: 

10 - 1x2 @ 9 1/4"
4 - 1x2 @ 18"
6 - 1x2 @ 19"
2 - 1x2 @ 14"
1 - 1x1 @ 18"
2 - 1x1 @ 5 3/4"
2 - 1x1 @ 19"

General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!

Step 1

Doll Bunk Beds for American Girl Doll and 18" Doll

Build two of the ends as shown above. I used the Kreg Jig to hide all holes, but you could use countersunk 2" screws from the outsides. Use a piece of 1x material as a spacer.

Step 2

Doll Bunk Beds for American Girl Doll and 18" Doll

Now join the two ends as shown above.

Step 3

Doll Bunk Beds for American Girl Doll and 18" Doll

Followed by the guardrail on the ladder side.

Step 4

Doll Bunk Beds for American Girl Doll and 18" Doll

Now here is where the clamps are your good friend. Position, glue and clamp, then nail in place with 1 1/4" nails. You could also use 1 1/4" screws, but then you got to cover the screw holes, which is no big deal if you are painting it. But in our case, we wanted to gift the doll bed unfinished so the birthday girl could do the painting.

Step 5

Doll Bunk Beds for American Girl Doll and 18" Doll

Now simply add the ladder rungs.

Step 6

Doll Bunk Beds for American Girl Doll and 18" Doll

I have a pretty good sized nailer and was able to get it in there. But if you are at all concerned, you could definitely add the cleats before step #2.

Step 7

Doll Bunk Beds for American Girl Doll and 18" Doll

Really, anything works here. I had some scrap 1/4" PureBond Plywood (Formaldehyde Free, yay!) so I put that in there.

Finishing Instructions

Preparation Instructions: 
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth. It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.

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clips
blessednest's picture

GAH!!!

ANA! WHYYYY?!?!?! lol, i just made my list of "to makes" for our homemade Christmas. I was going to make two of the farmhouse doll beds [one for each of our daughters and their AG doll & blabla doll]

BUT

I.LOVE.THIS!!!! I might make the bunks instead. or make bunks out of the farmhouse beds lol!

LOVE IT! THANK YOU!!!! You & your plans pretty much rock my stars. true story.

posted by blessednest | on Fri, 2011-08-12 00:52
clips
mamma_joy's picture

A trundle?!?

I think if you left the ladder support piece shorter, you could even swing adding a trundle! My posted trundle plan would be a little tall, but you could make it work with a 1x3 instead of a 1x4--easy modification! That'd be great for my neighbor with three girls!

Erin

North Dakota Mom building my home better.

posted by mamma_joy | on Fri, 2011-08-12 03:35

I seriously can not wait to

I seriously can not wait to make this! My girls will be so excited.

posted by Athena (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-08-12 07:57

wow

You continue to amaze! This is too adorable!


posted by spiceylg | on Fri, 2011-08-12 09:36

ANA is AWESOME!!!!

Ana....this bunk bed is SO PERFECT for our dolls! I knew you would eventually post a bunk bed, and this is why I have waited for your post...because these plans are AWESOME!!! I have linked to your plans for my readers to enjoy. Thanks for these....REALLY!!!! And thanks for "teaching" me to build, girl! You ROCK!!! :)
Kristi @ Pieces for Reese
http://piecesforreese.blogspot.com/2011/08/18-doll-ana-white-bunk-bed.html

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-08-12 10:09

really want to try this

I realllly want to make a bed like this for my girls. And I love the paper roll holder on the adorable desk as well!!! And the "Beach Hair" We have a lot of that at my house too :) I can't get my littlest to hold still to even pull her bangs out of her face most times. Well... they aren't so much bangs anymore anyway...
I love your stuff. Some day I will build stuff.

posted by jeanne (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-08-12 10:29

Nice!

This is great. I just made my own farmhouse style bunk bed set for my daughter a couple of weeks ago when she got the bitty twins. I will be making this one for my daughter's friend, too.

posted by Cherie Heltne (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-08-12 10:31

1x1s

Would 3/4" wooden dowels work instead of the 1x1? And I think you're missing 2 1x1s at 19" for an extra set of cleats. :)

I can't wait to make this! I already made the farmhouse doll bed for my daughter, but she's managed to pile more than 3 dolls on it at a time. Thank you, thank you for your wonderful and generous plans!

posted by Miasmom (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-08-12 12:10

I am totally making this.

I just want to say how much I LOVE this website. I have never made anything out of wood in my life, but with your detailed instructions and the shopping list and cutting list etc. (you have thought of EVERYTHING!) I feel absolutely confident that I can do this.

I don't even have a saw, but I know my local hardware store will cut the wood for me (for a price, but still it's totally worth it).

posted by guest (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-08-19 21:24

I just want to tell you thanks.

Hi Ana, my name is Vladimir, I'm from Russia. A live in Syberia. I read your blog and lost you year ago. Then a seek you and I happy to found your site. I can,t speak English well, but can read with dictionary. I love your life story. I just want to tell you that. I like all that you builds. Is there in your site SketchUp models your builds? I want to build toy bed for my doughter. Of course I can use you pictures, but if you give to people you models, they can translate mesures. This certain not necessarily. Forgive me for my bad engilesh.

posted by Vladimir (not verified) | on Mon, 2011-09-05 01:52

Bed!

Hi there! I've absolutely loved making this! Thanks so much for the pattern! You are a legend! Just one thing I noticed... In the cutting unless I'm going mad it should be 4 x 1x1 x 19" for the mattress supports. No biggie but it may make the difference between one length of timber and two!
Thanks again!
Mairi

posted by Mairi (not verified) | on Wed, 2011-09-07 04:51

Awesome!

I'm a doll maker, and I have 2 boys, with 2 dolls, and it's virtually impossible to find doll beds for boy dolls. I figured I'd have to make it myself. I'm a sewer- not a woodworker, but this looks like something I can definitely do. Thanks so much for posting it!
~Erin

posted by My Favorite Dolly (not verified) | on Thu, 2011-09-22 23:39

Bunkbeds

Thanks for the plans! I just completed this project and it came out great. I don't have a Kreg jig so I drilled holes and used dowells so that all front facing surfaces are nice and smooth. I wanted to use wood stain it came out so well but my daughter wants to paint it pink which is fine by me as it's for her!
Thanks again!

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-10-04 16:37

Bunkbeds

Thanks for the plans! I just completed this project and it came out great. I don't have a Kreg jig so I drilled holes and used dowells so that all front facing surfaces are nice and smooth. I wanted to use wood stain it came out so well but my daughter wants to paint it pink which is fine by me as it's for her!
Thanks again!

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-10-04 16:37
clips

I think there are a couple of

I think there are a couple of errors in the cut list. As someone already pointed out, there should be 4 1"x1"x19" cuts for the cleats. To get all of the cuts out of one 1"x1"x8', I made the 4 cleats about 16 inches each.

Also, you can't get all of the cuts out of 3 1x2s. I didn't want to run back to the store, so I left out the middle side rails on the top bunk. I kind of like the more "mod" look! (and it's not like you need the rail for safety!)

Otherwise, this plan is super easy and sturdy - I had fun making it!

posted by margjack | on Thu, 2011-10-20 16:27

Decorating a kid's bedroom

Decorating a kid's bedroom can be fun. You can include playful and appealing designs that will be suitable for your kids.
Imagination and creativity can be most experimented in this part of your home where the Decor has to be changed more frequently with the growing age and maturity of the children and also their changing tastes and ideals.

posted by Flipper bed (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-11-04 03:02

Imagination and creativity

Imagination and creativity can be most experimented in this part of your home where the Decor has to be changed more frequently with the growing age and maturity of the children and also their changing tastes and ideals.Have you noticed anything funny with this bed? This Flipper bunk by Pietro Arosio has two headboards on the sides.

posted by Flipper bed (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-11-04 03:07

Attaching the rungs

I am building two of these for my daughters for Christmas. The first one is assembled and ready for finishing work.

I believe I have learned from my mistakes during the assembly process and will be better prepared for the second one. On step 5 (attaching the rungs) the rungs butt up against one end so I wasn't sure the best way to attach it.

To anyone who has built this (or Ana), did you attach that end using a pocket hole on the back side or just a use a screw through the outside?

I have all the wood cut and the pocket holes drilled for the second bed. The Kreg Mini Jig (and accessories) was the most expensive part of this project but well worth it in the end.

posted by Paul H. (not verified) | on Mon, 2011-11-14 11:28

thank you

Ana,
How generous of you to share these instructions. I think this is an awesome project. I only wish I had someone to make it for. I can only imagine a little girl's delight when she receives this. I'm so glad I found you. I just pinned it.

posted by Donna Huisinga (not verified) | on Tue, 2011-12-13 19:08

Amazing bed

My daughters birthday is in a couple of days do we decided that we are getting her her 3rd doll but she's always asking for a bed so this plan is PERFECT!!!! We are gonna make two of them.

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Tue, 2012-01-17 02:11
clips

!x1

Has anyone ever, used 1x2 instead of the 1x1? I cant find any 1x1 for less than $5 a foot? That is almost the whole $10 rught there?

posted by jennybriggs1970 | on Wed, 2012-01-25 00:31
clips

If you have a table saw, you

If you have a table saw, you could rip a 1x2.

I used a 1x1 but cut it from an 18 foot board in the trim/molding area that charges by the linear foot. I think it was about $2/foot. I build two so I think this was the most expensive part of the project!

posted by pjhaan | on Tue, 2012-02-14 13:07

Buy it?

Could you make these for sale because I don't have the skills or equipment to make the bunk bends and they are so nice!!!

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Sun, 2012-02-12 10:16

Bunk bed plan

Excellent design and simple to make. One minor problem is the quantities of wood required. 1X2 should read 4 1X2 @ 8' and not 3 (check cut list total quantities). Cut list should also read 1X1 @19" qty 4 not 2 (base supports).

Thanks

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Thu, 2012-02-16 11:20

WOW!

Is there a way to make a smaller one?

posted by Guest (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-03-23 19:59

Just built this bunk bed today.

My daughter asked for this for her birthday. I have been bitten by the building bug. This was my first wood working project and I had a blast!! I can't wait to tackle my next project!

posted by Cherica (not verified) | on Thu, 2012-04-05 20:41

Prett Easy

I am in the process of completing one of these. It was very easy to do. My onkly suggestion is that if you use a 3/4x3/4x8 piece of trim to use shorter nails or screws then listed. Otherwise the points will stick out the other end.

Can't wait to add the final touches and paint it!

I have a feeling I will be making more for friends and family!

posted by Jen A (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-05-09 11:28

Bunk Bed and plans

This is so awesome of you to share these plans(along with your others). I started one of these today. Got it almost done, and would have had it completed had I not ran out of board and had to wait for my hubby to bring me another one.
As mentioned previously, the supply list is a bit shy of having enough 1x2's. Also, I couldn't find 1x1's, other than in the dowel section(I don't have a table saw to rip a 1x2). I decided 1/2" square dowel would be plenty big enough for the cleats. I just cut 2 of them in half, giving me 4 18" cleats. I just centered them. I don't think the 1/2" missing at each end will make any difference in the finished product. I'm also going to use a 1x2 for the ladder support because the 1/2" just doesn't look right and I have extra 1x2 now! I'll post pics of my finished one soon.
Thanks again, Ana! You Rock!

posted by ann-sewsalot (not verified) | on Sat, 2012-09-22 20:48

DIY bunkbed

My husband just made this for our granddaughter and we aren't sure where you can make this for $10. It's very cute, but cost more than $10 project.

posted by Tammie (not verified) | on Thu, 2012-10-11 18:25

Suggestions for Modification and Comments on 18 inDoll Bunk Bed

I agree with several earlier posts that this project requires 4 pieces of 1x4 8' long.

Also, made this bed 1.5 inches wider by moving the long rail to the outside edge. This required the left hand side of the ladder to be notched where it intersected with the bed frame. Relatively easy to do and use glue to secure.

Also, made the bed using dowel rods and glue only to connect all joints. This added more complexity and would suggest nail gun and glue for future ones. But, this was for my granddaughter Naomi.

posted by Richard (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-12-21 09:33

Thanks!!!!

My husband made the bed, I painted it and made the bedding and our daughter LOVES it!!! I love it too. It is super cute and perfect for her dolls. Thanks for sharing your plans.
Denise
PS-My husband did say it took him much longer to make it than you. ;)

posted by Denise S. (not verified) | on Thu, 2013-01-10 13:03

This tutorial is awesome. I

This tutorial is awesome. I like this. I will make one like this at home. Thank you Ana for this tips. This is truly helpful since I will not buy a ready made in the malls. - JustFab

posted by kazey | on Sun, 2013-05-05 18:33

Great Project

My wife found this project and had me build it. Very straightforward and easy. Two things worth mentioning, though. As others have said, you need four 19" cleats for the mattresses. Also, kreg joints are meant to have two holes drilled in each piece of wood to prevent rotation of the wood. This rotation can be prevented in one of four ways. Firstly, on each piece of wood requiring a kreg joint, you could drill two holes. The pieces are narrow so this is tricky at best. The next option is to to drill the hole on one end of the board closer to one edge and drill the hole at the other end of the board closer to the other edge. This way, the holes aren't in line with one another and the board won't rotate. The third option is to glue each joint before "kregging" it. The fourth option is to make use of small pin nails. Gluing each joint adds some time, but is probably the best option.

The finished bed is adorable and I can't wait to give it to my daughter for her birthday next month. Thank you so much, Ana, for a wonderful, inspirational website!

posted by TheReal309 | on Sat, 2013-09-14 09:01

I love this plan

My Wife came across your website, and absolutely loves it. I'm already in the process of making one bunk bed for my daughter, with plans to build another for my niece, as they are both getting dolls for Christmas. I did notice that others were commenting about the missing 19" lengths of 1x1 from the plans, should be 4 in total, not 2. As for material, I originally went out and bought a bunch of 1x2 pieces 8 feet long, but they weren't cheap, around $5.50 each. I've since found that I can get Knotty Pine shelving pieces from my local Kents building supplies (I'm in St. John's, Newfoundland) for around $5.27 for a 6 foot by 10" piece. Each length can be ripped down into four 1x2 pieces and one 1x1 piece, all 6 feet long. Way cheaper, and can just buy a few extra as needed :)

posted by RParsons | on Mon, 2013-09-30 08:22

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