So I thought I’d share with you how I made Little Sister’s toddler pallet bed, because I know you’re staking out dumpsters at warehouses and such, trying to get your hands on a couple of pallets so you can make a bed of your own. Right? OK, maybe not that desperate, but still, you’re curious.
Plus, this will save you from half a dozen trips to Home Depot throughout the duration of the project for supplies you had no idea you needed. ( no, I’m not speaking from experience. . .OK, OK, maybe I did take 5 trips. )
To start you’ll need at least 2 pallets, 3 if you’re going to need to do any repairs to your pallet — and spare parts are never a bad thing.
The ones I used were 48 x 40 inches and had the slats pretty close together, which is how I achieved the head & foot board. Also, the 40″ worked perfectly for a toddler bed, which you’ll find out why in a moment.
You will also need:
• 4 – 5 bolts, (long enough to go through 2 widths of bracing when butted up next to each other) washers & nuts
• short wood screws (long enough to go through the slats & into the next board, but not through)
• long wood screws (long enough to go through the bracing and into the next board, but not through)
• one 2x4x10 piece of lumber (longer or more pieces if you need to make any modifications due to different pallet size)
• 5 casters with locks
• palm sander with medium grit sandpaper
• circular saw
• drill w/ bits in sizes for your bolts and potentially the screws, depending on age of pallet, condition of the wood & how prone the wood is to splitting
• socket set
• tape measure
****the following could come in handy, but may not be necessary, depending on placement of slats & nails****
• hand saw
• sawsall with blade for metal
Have everything??? OK! We’re ready to start!!
(please keep in mind that no two pallets are going to be exactly the same. use these instructions as guidelines, and make adjustments where needed.
Also, I will be referring to the top and bottom boards as “slats” & the 3 center boards as “bracing” so we don’t have any confusion)
With your palm sander, sand down all the surfaces to keep your little one from getting splinters. I didn’t have to sand a whole lot, just got rid of the rough wood, but kept the character. (Once it was built I did go back and sand portions that would be touched often and thus needed a little more caution)
Toddler mattresses are generally 28″ wide. So, to start with, using a circular saw, I cut both pallets to 29″, cutting ACROSS the bracing, not with it. That gave me two pallets 29″ x 40″.
You will have to cut one side of the pallet, then turn it over and cut the other side of slats, as well as each brace from the side. The middle one can be tricky which is where a hand saw can be useful. Also, if you find some nails in your way, a sawsall with a blade for metal, may just be your best friend.
On a flat surface, lay both 20″ x 40″ small pallets up-side-down, butting up the edge bracings, matching edges as best you can.
With the drill, drill pilot holes for your bolts through the entire depth of both bracings (clamp together, if needed, to ensure alignment). Put in the bolts and tighten the washers & nuts with a socket set.
A typical toddler mattress is 52″ long. My pallets were 4.5″ tall. So, I then drew a line on the connected pallets at 61″ (52 + 4.5 +4.5).
Cut with a circular saw. I found it worked a lot better to place a board under the slats I was cutting to help stabilize them and keep them from drooping after being cut and putting tension on the saw blade.
You might notice that cutting at 61″ puts me just about an inch past the middle brace of the pallet. This is perfect for my toddler bed! If however, your cut has to go on the other side of the brace, you will need to reinforce the slats by screwing/nailing a 2×4 (or whatever size is appropriate to your pallet) inside the end of those slats.
Flip the pallet over and attach your casters at each corner and one in the middle where the 2 pallets come together. If your screws will be close to the edge of a board, or the boards are prone to splitting, drilling pilots will help alleviate splitting. Of course, good help is always welcome.
Flip the thing over and Whoo-Hoo!! You’re almost there!!
Next step, head & foot boards.
Using the 29″ wide section that you cut off from the connected pallets, flip is up on end, so that the bracing sits on the edge of the bed. Drill pilots holes, then screw into place. Cut a section of 2×4 to stabilize the slats and screw in place a few inches from the top of the slats.
For the foot board, cut two sections from the 2×4, 29″ long. From the remaining parts of the pallet, cut the slats into 12″ sections and then screw/nail them to the 2x4s on ONE side, aligning with the bottom. Then flip this up on end and place on the end of the bed, leaving space for the final row of slats from the very edge of the bed. Drill pilot holes, then screw in place. Screw/nail the other 2×4 to the slats a couple of inches from the top. (If you do this step sooner, you will need a 90 degree drill in order to be able to screw it in place)
Attach the slats to the other side of the 2x4s.
If adding side rails, repeat the steps for the foot board, cutting your 2×4 to the desired length & only attaching slats to one side. Run a 1×4 across the top to stabilize. Then screw into the pallet. You may need an extra pallet for this step, depending on the type/size of pallet you use.
And there you have it!! One ridiculously cute bed for well under $100!!
If anyone gives this a try, please send pictures!! I’d love to see your interpretations! And let me know if any of the steps don’t make sense. I’ll try to clear it up for you!!
Enjoy & Happy Building!!
I also have plans of making another one for Big, as she requested. Hoping to get my hands on more pallets this week & built next weekend, so I’ll have pictures for you as soon as I can. We’ll see if my instructions change any if I get pallets that are a little bit different. I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll be the same — I’ve already got this way figured out!!
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the latest installment of Preschoolers 101 over at Southern Institute for Domestic Arts & Crafts!! Today Heather is talking about little one’s emotions! Good stuff!!
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