Here’s a bed that combines both creativity and function. And it’s guaranteed to be a hit with the young pirates in your family
If you want a special kind of bed for your kids, you’ll know that buying one is an expensive exercise. Novelty kids’ beds cost a small fortune – and you can’t always be assured of the quality.
Your best option is to build your own. This DIY boat bed is the perfect example of what can be done. Use it for inspiration or you can follow the instructions to make one the same. Much love and creativity went into this build. It looks so awesome that your kids will have a great time playing pirates in it.
But aside from the great aesthetics, this boat bed is also functional. It may not be obvious, but it has a lot of secret storage that can be used to store kids’ toys and clothes…not to mention cutlasses and eye patches :D.
Would your kids love this DIY boat bed?
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You’ll need these materials:
- 5/8″ Plywood
- 2 sheets 1/8″ Plywood
- 3/4″ Board
- Wood Glue
- Brass Rivets
- Wood Stain
- Damp Rag
And these tools:
- Paint Brush
- Circular Saw
- Jig Saw
- Cordless Drill
- Palm Sander (random orbit)
- Japanese Style Pull Saw
- Various Drill Bits
- Tape Measure
- Quick Clamps
Steps to build a boat bed:
I drew the profile of the side of the “boat” full size on some poster board material and used it as my pattern(pic 1). This is the exact profile on the rear of the boat. I then cut out four of those, two for each side.
These are the rear most uprights. As they get closer to the front they needed to be taller for the gentle curve from aft to prow. So, I moved my pattern up 3/4″ for two more and then an inch more for the final two. I glued and screwed them to a 1×4 that is 2 inches longer that the mattress.
Then I drew the pattern onto some 1/2 inch ply I had (crib) and figured the width of the bed/boat based on the mattress width. I temporarily screwed that to the back to Hold the sides up(pic 3). I cut one for the front also but based on the uprights on the front.
I then put a 1×2 on top of the notch I had planned out on my boat bed pattern. Glue and screw everything. You can kind of see in the pics how I progressively figured out the shape of the boat.
Rip your top rail to overlap the 1/8″ plywood sheeting. Then I used a 5/16″ drill bit to counter sink where I would screw straight down into the uprights. Pre-drill everything so you don’t split anything. Glue and screw. Nice curve. right?
This process of building the boat bed was a bit tricky. I had to kind of just eyeball where I wanted the prow to end up without making the boat bed too long in overall length for my son’s room. I also wanted it to be big enough for storing a comforter. First I laid a piece of 1/2″ ply on the ground.
Then I held the 2×4 up at an angle to see where it should go and then marked and cut it. Then I got a better idea of where it would end up. I then sketched the curve onto the ply that is sitting on the ground for the bottom of the prow and cut it out with a jigsaw.
After I made sure the curve of my boat bed project was nice I screwed the 2/4 in through the bottom.
I had to then figure out where the top of the prow should be so I bent a board from front to back with an approximation of the curve of the rails. Then I cut it on that mark.
I then used two 1x8s from the front of the rails to the prow. I clamped them in place and then freehand drew the curve onto the top side. Then I cut out one with the jigsaw and tested it on both sides. Once it fit well I flipped it over and traced it out onto the other board, cut it out, and then fit them into place.
I flipped the prow over onto a workbench and fit the 2×2 uprights into place. Once it all lined up good I used a quarter-round bit and routed all the edges.
I used 1/8″ plywood to cover the boat bed. My dad built a kayak out of 1/4″ ply so I figured this would be plenty strong for a fake boat. Once it was all glued up and dry it was surprisingly strong and light.
For the side panels, I wanted 4 “boards” to run up the length of the boat bed. I divided the front and back uprights into four equal parts which would be the bottom of each board. Then I ripped the ply with the jigsaw because I wanted kind of a rough old boat look.
Starting at the bottom I glued and nailed the ply onto the frame, gluing along the entire length of the overlap also. The overlap didn’t want to stay tight together so I used a couple of 1″ screws to hold it together until the glue dried. Later I removed them and filled the holes.
The top “board” of ply has that slight curve in it that runs along the top rail of the entire boat. I clamped that piece of ply where the bottom should go and scribed the back side with the curve. Then I cut it out carefully with the jigsaw.
This was probably the most difficult part of the whole boat bed project. Kind of hard to describe how I did it and I was in a rush to finish before it rained so there is only one pic.
Because of the more aggressive curve around the prow, I ran the ply across the grain because it bends more readily that way. They also make “bendy ply” which would have been great for this but I couldn’t get ahold of any.
Again I marked all the uprights where the bottom of the board should be. Then I made an 18″ cut of ply and just held it up in a place more or less and marked the angle along the 2×4. Once the angle was cut then I could clamp it in place and draw the curve onto the back side using my bottom of board marks and adding an inch.
I only needed to figure out one side and cut the reverse for the other. Each “board” has a different radius because the prow widens towards the top. I just let the boards run long and trimmed them with a hand saw flush with the back of the prow.
I had a rough idea of how I was going to make a secret panel that would lift out when something else was pushed or pulled. I used a thin kerf Japanese-style pull saw to cut the top rail where the panel would lift up.
Then I built a basic drawer that served as the panel. It took some trial and error to figure out the mechanics but it’s just basically two eyelets screwed into the bottom of the 1×2 that has a rope that runs through it. When you push down on the flag pull it pulls on the rope that raises the panel. Simple as that!
Perfect place for an iPad…and some how-to books…
From the beginning I wanted a name plate to have my son’s name on the boat bed so I decided to make it open up. I just built a tiny drawer with a back that extended up above the sides so that when in place the drawer couldn’t be pulled out too far and fall.
Stained the front. Printed out a font I liked and transferred it onto the wood. Painted it with watered-down acrylics. Polyurethaned the whole thing at the end. Added some brass rivets to the front corners to make it look like it’s bolted on the bolt and can’t be moved.
I used the space in the prow to hide comforters and large stuff like that. Used another scrap piece of ply from the crib. I trimmed it out and put some hinges and a handle on it. I’ll eventually put something to hold it up while it is open but for now, my son isn’t going to be able to open it on his own for a couple of years.
I stained the top rails and the inside of the side of the boat bed where the mattress will sit. Then painted the outside of the boat bed solid green. Once the green dried I dry brushed dark green and white in that order to give it a weathered look. I also dry-brushed white onto the stained wood to also weather it. I used a damp rag to soften the contrast of the white.
Then I painted dark green to paint on the moss to give it more detail.
Then I sprayed the whole boat bed with satin finish polyurethane. I didn’t want gloss because…I don’t like gloss 🙂 and I wanted it to look old.
Once I installed the boat bed, it looked kind of lonely all by itself in his room. So I took some dried eucalyptus branches I had sitting around for another idea I had for the bed (was going to make a rustic loft bed but transportability…) And leaned them in the corners. Once I knew where I wanted them I screwed them together so they wouldn’t move if my son pulls on them. Then the sticks looked kind of lonely so I painted some in too. That filled it in a little more.
Then, twinkle lights.
That’s it…Go to bed.
Isn’t it a nice bedroom setup? Every kid would definitely have a good night’s sleep if they had a room and a boat bed like this!
Would this be your next project for the little ones?