Doll Bunk Beds for American Girl Doll and 18" Doll

Submitted by Ana White on Thu, 08/11/2011 - 22:23
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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.

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 are shown above.


Shopping List

4 - 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:

Common Materials
2 inch screws
1 1/4 inch finish nails
120 grit sandpaper
wood conditioner
paint brush
Cut List

10 - 1x2 @ 9 1/4"

4 - 1x2 @ 18"

6 - 1x2 @ 19"

2 - 1x2 @ 14"

1 - 1x1 @ 18"

2 - 1x1 @ 5 3/4"

4 - 1x1 @ 19"

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
Drill Bit Set
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

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

Now join the two ends as shown above.

Step 3

Followed by the guardrail on the ladder side.

Step 4

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

Step 6

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

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.



Tue, 01/24/2012 - 21:31

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?


Tue, 02/14/2012 - 10:07

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!

Guest (not verified)

Sun, 02/12/2012 - 07:16

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!!!

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 02/16/2012 - 08:20

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).


Guest (not verified)

Fri, 03/23/2012 - 17:59

Is there a way to make a smaller one?

Cherica (not verified)

Thu, 04/05/2012 - 18:41

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!

Jen A (not verified)

Wed, 05/09/2012 - 09:28

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!

ann-sewsalot (not verified)

Sat, 09/22/2012 - 18:48

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!

Tammie (not verified)

Thu, 10/11/2012 - 16:25

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.

Richard (not verified)

Fri, 12/21/2012 - 06:33

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.

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