A neighbor was looking for a Thomas the Tank Engine toddler bed, hoping to find one second hand. The manufactured plastic version, aside from being expensive, didn’t even do a good job of capturing the shape of a tank engine (not that the average 3 year old would notice). I drew one up, but the neighbor moved, so I never built it.
Bear in mind that since this plan has not been built, there is a higher chance of errors. Also, this plan has not been safety tested for things like pinch zones, and includes a drawer and a bin top that could potentially cause injury, just like any other drawer or closing top.
My idea for the round head is to use a 5 gallon plastic bucket. It would need to be cut down, and I have not tried that, so I don’t know how difficult it is, but I assume a jig saw would do the trick. It would then need to be painted black, so you would want to scuff it lightly with fine sandpaper first to ensure the paint will stick.
By using bolts for the final assembly, it will break down in to smaller parts that are easy to move or store. It includes a rolling drawer underneath, and a toy box at the foot.
3 @ 1×3 x 8′
10 @ 1×4 x 8′
3 @ 1×6 x 8′
2 @ 2×3 x 8′
1 @ 32″ x 48″ Marker Board Wainscot
1 @ 5 gal bucket
1 @ 3″ ABS connector (smokestack)
4 @ 3″ wheels (could use round cutouts from 1×4 scraps)
handles for bin and drawer (could use wood scraps)
black, blue, red, white, and gold paint
4 @ 1×3 x 36″ Cab
2 @ 1×3 x 22″ Cab center piece
1 @ 1×3 x 27.5″ Front section below tank
4 @ 1×3 x 7.5″ Cab cross supports
2 @ 1×4 x 44.5″ Side rails
2 @ 1×4 x 31.25 Drawer inside faces
3 @ 1×4 x 29″ Cab back rails
15 @ 1×4 x 27.5 slats (9), Front section (4), drawer sides (2)
2 @ 1×4 x 13.5″ Front sides
2 @ 1×4 x 11.25″ beveled one end, Front top either side of head
2 @ 1×4 x 9″ angled one end, Front top verticals side of head
7 @ 1×4 x 9.5″ roof of cab
2 @ 1×4 x 3.5″ triangle
2 @ 1×6 x 30.5″ cut 2 edges, top of cab
2 @ 1×6 x 36″ drawer faces
1 @ 1×6 x 27.5″ box back
2 @ 1×6 x 14.5″ cut one corner, box sides
2 @ 1×6 x 9.25″ front side upper
2 @ 1×6 x 8.5″ front side lower
1 @ 32″ x 27.5″ markerboard
1 @ 12″ round markerboard
Step 1 – Build the Cab
Lay 3 of the 1x3s edge to edge, with two long and one short, and the short board in the middle. Align one end and mark 3.5″ from that end. Attach a short 1×3 across all three, using glue and screws. You should also apply some glue along the edges of the center board.
Flip it over, and attach another short 1×3 aligned with the top two outer pieces, and glue and screw. Make sure the two outer boards are squeezing the middle board tightly.
Make another one just like that one.
Prop up one of those pieces on edge, and mark at 6″, 12″, and 18″ from the bottom. Attach one of the back pieces with glue and screws. Check for square while assembling. Make sure the lower cross block is on the inside. Mark and attach the other side. Then attach the remaining back rails.
Cut the top cab rails on each corner as shown.
Attach one of the cab top rails even with the top rails, with the extended edge beyond the top. Flip it over and attach the other top rail to match.
Attach 7 short 1x4s for the roof, evenly spaced.
Step 2 – Build the Rails
Align a 2×3 and a long 1×4 so that one edge is in alignment, and the 2×3 extends 7.5″ on one end, and 2.5″ on the other end. Attach with glue and screws, going through the 2×3 so the screw heads are not visible on the 1×4.
Make another one, but make sure it is a mirror image of the first one. Set the first one with the aligned edges flat on the ground, and align the other boards in mirror image.
Step 3 – Build the Toy Box
Build the toy box by creating a square frame with the 27.5″ 1×6, the two angled 1x6s, and a 27.5″ 1×4. The 1×4 is the front, aligned with the narrow end of the 1x6s.
The 2 triangular pieces go on top of the pieces with the cut corner. You could attach them now with glue and a small nail down through the angled part, but it may be easier to attach them after the front frame has been attached to the box.
Make the lid with 2 of the 27.5″ 1x4s, and 2 short pieces set across perpendicular. Attach the cross pieces 1″ in from each end.
I have not included hinges for the toy box lid, as it would create a slamming hazard without a piston. By adding 2 small handles to the front, a child should be able to lift the lid off and set it aside. Plus, now they have a nifty 27″ ramp.
Step 4 – Build the Front
Mark one of the 17″ 1x4s at 1/2″ from the end. Mark side of the box, on the angled 1×6, at 5.25″ from the front of the box (4.5″ from the front of the angled piece). Attach the side vertical so it extends 1/2″ below the bottom of the box. Attach the other side to match, then attach the two 26″ pieces between them, 3/4″ below the top.
Attach the two beveled pieces to form the top, with a gap in the middle. Attach the 8 1/2″ pieces to the sides as shown.
Mark the two upper side pieces 3.5″ from the top, and attach the 27.5″ 1×3 between them as shown. attach the angled 1x4s above that to align with the top.
Now attach this assembly to the front frame, aligning the 1z3 with the edge of the beveled 1x4s. Screw through the 1×3 into those 1x4s. This is one place where a Kreg Jig will make the assembly much stronger. You can also get sufficient strength by using glue and clamps, if you have clamps with at least a 7″ opening.
Saw the 5 gallon bucket off about 12″ from the bottom. Be sure to sand the rough edges. Place it between the beveled pieces, and screw through the bucket into the wood. Glue the ABS connector to the top for the smokestack. Glue a circle of marker board on the front, and draw a face. You could even use dry erase marker and make his expression changeable.
Step 5 – Assemble and Drill Bolts
Assemble the 4 main parts, and hold together with clamps. If you want to be able to disassemble the bed, you will want to drill bolt holes at this point rather than just screwing everything together.
Drill 2 holes through the cab on each side, one through each of the tall 1x3s. Drill all of the way through the 2×3. Insert bolts after drilling each hole, to ensure everything stays aligned for the next bolt.
There is only room for one bolt on each side of the front section, but that will be sufficient with the extended lower support. This will be in through the front vertical, all of the way through the 2×3.
Step 6 – Build the Drawer
Assemble a square frame from 1x4s using 2 of the 27.5″ pieces, and the 31.25″ pieces, with the longer pieces inside the shorter ones. Attach the white board to the bottom.
Attach wheels to the sides, so that the box is at least a 1/2″ off of the ground. Attach the drawer face plates so that they are only about 1/4″ off of the ground.
Step 7 – Connect the slats
To connect the slats, you have a couple of options. You could screw them directly to the side rails, making a single piece of the center section. The other option is to attach the slats to each other with strips of cloth or wood, keeping the side rails as separate pieces. The slats can then be rolled out on the side rails after assembly.
If you choose cloth strips to connect the slats, you should add screws to the head and foot slat to keep them in place.
Step 8 – Finish & Painting
Some of the painting should be done before assembly, such as the top of the cab. The tank head should also be done ahead of time, and the area around it painted before the tank is attached.
Make sure all boards are sanded thoroughly to remove any possible splinters. Sand the top corners of the front section so they are rounded.
The Sketchup drawings here only have single colors on each board, but you will want to do a slightly more detailed paint job. A tank engine has 3 equal sized wheels. The drawer face will show the lower half of the rear 2 wheels, and the front wheel will be painted on the solid part, although it might overlap the edge of the drawer a bit if you get the size right.
The red frame around the front of the toy box should extend all the way back along the lower edge of the side rail. And there is a red pin stripe on the side, including an arch right above the front wheel.
You could easily end up spending more time on the paint than the assembly.
Download the Sketchup file for more detail.