Surf Bus or Van Loft Bed

DIY surf bus loft bed - free plans from


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

Author Notes: 

Last week, Kevin Jehl shared this AMAZING Surf Bus loft bed that he built,

Kevin designed this bed for his son, and built it (including paint, hardware, etc) for about $225 with basic tools - circular saw, drill, jigsaw, and a pocket hole jig.  

Here's from Kevin:

"I wanted a design that could be easily moved without totally destroying it, hence the lag bolt design.  I built the bed in our garage, painted it, then took it apart to move upstairs into the bedroom.  I did this mostly because I was working on it in the evenings after the twins were in bed.

Also, I am a civil engineer and have a professional engineering license that would allow me to design a bridge or skyscraper – needless to say this thing is sturdy!  I didn’t want to worry about it falling down if the whole family was up in it."

Also check out Kevin's brag post here.

I love how this surfer bus loft bed was built so it would be easy to assemble in the room.  And I love how Kevin simplified the design without losing any style points.  

You all loved it so much, too, that I received emails requesting plans!

Kevin was generous enough to let us draw and share plans with you!

Thank you Kevin for letting us share plans!  It's much appreciated!

XO Ana + Fam

Shopping List: 

3 sheets of ½” MDF
16 2x4 @ 8 feet long
5 1x3 @ 8 feet long
3 - 1x4 @ 8 feet long
2 - 1x6 @ 10 feet long
2- 1x2 @ 8 feet long (for front grill)
8 Lag bolts (4” bolts) – the bed deck is easily removable
2-1/2" pocket hole screws
1-1/4" finish nails or screws (for attaching plywood)
2" wood screws (for attaching upper rails)

measuring tape
safety glasses
hearing protection
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!

Cut List: 

2 - 2x4 @ 39"
2 - 2x4 @ 72"
3 - 2x4 @ 36"
1 - 1/2" plywood or MDF @ 39" x 75"

8 - 2x4 @ 73"
8 - 2x4 @ 17"
4 - 2x4 @ 39" (end supports)

UPPER RAILS (measure and cut to fit)
1 - 1x4 @ 75"
2 - 1x3 @ 75"
1 - 1x4 @ 54 1/2"
2 - 1x3 @ 54-1/2"
1 - 1x4 @ 42-3/4"
2 - 1x3 @ 42-3/4"
1 - 1x4 @ 43-1/2"
2 - 1x3 @ 43-1/2"

4 - 1/2" plywood or MDF @ 29" x 24"
2 - 1/2" plywood or MDF @ 29" x 43"

2 - 1x6 @ 56-1/2" (shortest point measurement, bottom end cut at 5 degrees off square)
4 - 1x6 @ 15-1/2"

Wheels are 16" diameter circles cut from the plywood scraps
Grill is 4 - 1x2 @ 32" and 2 - 1x4 @ 9"
Bumpers are 2x4 - cut to fit
Headlights are 4" and 6" rounds (can cut from plywood or try craft stores for precut wood rounds)

Step 1: 

Frame up the bed platform with 2x4s. Use 1-1/2" setting on your pocket hole jig to drill holes, and attach with 2-1/2" pocket hole screws.

Step 2 Instructions: 

Attach 1/2" plywood or MDF to top of framing. Use either glue and 1-1/4" finish nails or 2" wood screws.

Step 3 Instructions: 

Build four legs as shown in diagram with 1-1/2" pocket holes and 2-1/2" pocket hole screws.

Step 4 Instructions: 

Mark each of the leg sets at the height you want the bed. Then attach the bed platform to the legs from the inside with 2-1/2" screws or lag bolts.

Step 5 Instructions: 

Attach upper top rails with 2" screws. To avoid splitting wood, you may need to predrill holes for the screws.

NOTE: You could attach the upper side rails before attaching the mattress platform if that made more sense to you and you could move the pieces in the room.

Step 6 Instructions: 

Next attach the end rails to the legs and side rails with the 2" wood screws.

Step 7 Instructions: 

Drill 1-1/2" pocket holes on each end of the 2x4 bottom supports and attach with 2-1/2" pocket hole screws.

Step 8 Instructions: 

Cover the base of the bed in plywood or MDF - use the 2" wood screws if you need the pieces to be easy to disassemble. Otherwise you can use nails and glue.

Step 9 Instructions: 

Cut the wheels out of scrap plywood and attach to side panels. Use a single bolt in the center if you'd like those wheels to spin.

Step 10 Instructions: 

Cut to fit bumpers for the front and back.

Build the grill with 3/4" pocket holes and 1-1/4" pocket hole screws and attach with finsih nails and glue to front.

Headlights are 4" and 6" rounds that can be cut from plywood.

Step 11: 

For the ladder, attach the rungs on underside with 3/4" pocket holes and 1-1/4" pocket hole screws and glue. Round top edge with jigsaw. Attach with screws to inside of 2x4s on bed.

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.
Project Type: 
Skill Level: 


This plan includes the details for the ladder but the bed is picture with the side stairs. Do you have the plans for those as I'd rather have those for my three year old.

I made the stairs with some leftover 3/4" birch plywood that I had laying around from a built-in bookshelf project I'd done. (although MDF would work just fine too)
The plywood was 11" wide. All I did was cut it at 45 degrees (because I had a carpenter's square that allowed an easy cut at that angle) at a length that would square it with the floor and top of loft deck. I then squared off the overhang.
After that I just added steps, in my case 5 steps felt like the right number (again, done with leftover plywood scraps).
I trimmed it out with simple trim and then painted it white.

Sorry I didn't keep any measurements, the ladder was basically just thrown together quickly!

I love your bed! Planning on making one for my sons' car themed room. Curious about what type of paint you used and if you painted the boards prior to building? Thanks so much and great job!