Kid's Bed From Forrest Wood




Some time ago I made this bed for, and with my kids. The idea was to bring some nature into the Kid's room and for them to have a bunkbed that inspired them to climb on and in it. I also wanted them to experience that wood isn't a material that is made, but one that grows, that has a life in it, and so the idea came up to collect wood that had been cut to clear the forest. Even in a small forest in the middle of Berlin it took us only about five minutes to find a large amount of usable wood. Since it was such a fun project for the kids, because they simply love their beds, and because this is a cheap and very green way of making a bunkbed, here is an instructable of how to make one....

Ok, so the first thing you need to do is to find a place in your room for the bed and find out what size mattress. if you know the size of the mattress or two or three, start by making a simple support structure for the mattress (slatted frame). You can normally find loads of those in the streets.

Step 1: Finding and Cutting the Wood

To make the bed you need the wood. Find a forest and have a look around. Depending on where you are you might be lucky and a lot of wood that has been cut but is to small to be claimed by anybody is still lying around. If you find large bunks consider how long it has been laying there, because there might be animals living inside. If that is not the case go ahead. For a tough structure, depending on the wood of course, branches that have a diameter of about 5-10 cm are good. Make sure to take at least two straight pieces per bed in the length of the bed. Take enough wood to choose from later and look for interesting branches, V-shaped is very handy...

Collect smaller sized branches for the rails of the bed. Let the kids try and find the right wood, they will have a lot of fun doing this and will recognize "their" branches in the finished bed, which is a really nice thing.

Depending on the age and skill of the kids, let them do some of the sawing. I strongly recommend a Japanese saw for this. It is sharp and easy to handle even for the kids (because it cuts on the pull-stroke which is easy for them to do). Make sure to observe the kids while they cut and cut the bigger branches yourself! If the bark is loose take it off before taking it home. If not leave this for later, when you know which of pieces you actually use.

Step 2: Removing the Bark From the Wood

Removing the bark from the wood can be a most tedious job and it is a good idea to only do it with those pieces you actually use. So don't do this to all the wood, but do it every time you have chosen a piece for the bed.

I tried a couple of tools and can't really recommend any of them! A disc grinder is probably the nicest but makes a lot of dust. Scratching the bark of with hand tools takes longer but you can do it inside...

Step 3: Finding the Right Screws...

For the bed to look nice, you need nice screws. I took torx screws, because you can reuse them many times (we have moved with the bed actually, taking everything apart and putting it back together in the new flat). I also liked the look of stainless steel screws. Try to get screws in a variety of lengths, because it is hard to tell what you will need. If possible find screws with a neck. In some cases it was a good idea to shape the branches a bit so that they would better fit together but in most cases all I did was pre-drill a hole for the screw with a drill that has half or two-thirds of the diameter of the screw.

Step 4: Ataching Branches to the Mattress Support As a Frame

You obviously want your beds to be level, but the branches that will hold the frame are not completely straight. So what you will need to do is to first attach the branches that hold the mattress-support to it. Here you are looking for straight pieces of wood.

Once you have the mattress frame with strong branches attached, you have to find the right spot for the joist hangers on the wall. The cheapest option is to use these metal brackets/joist hangers. You could also build such support of wood.

Step 5: Ataching the Bed to the Wall

once you have the mattress support and sides ready it is time to attach it to the wall. You need another person to help or a lot of clamps and temporary support. Start with attaching one wall support to the wall. Then let the other person hold the mattress support so that it is level and mark the spots for the other wall supports on the wall. attach the other wall support and you have at least two, maybe three of the corners supported. Check if everything is level, you can still correct any errors by cutting a bit of the wood that is placed in the wall support. When it is ready attach two or one temporary support legs for the bed. Set up all the beds you are making.

Step 6: Making the Bed Strong

It is now time to give the bed the structural support it needs. The simplest solution is to put legs on the bed horizontally. To me this isn't a very elegant solution but depending on the room it can be the best option. What I did was to give support for each of the unsupported corners by diagonal branches fixed to the wall/floor. This made it possible to lay a large futon mattress on the floor under the beds for the kids to land on when climbing and jumping on the beds. It is also the place where we sit and read to the kids before sleeping. And it makes for a great hut under the beds covered with blankets!

After attaching the support, take off the temporary support and see if it can hold you! (it should hold a grown up person in my opinion, our bed can take it when an adult sits there with the kids). If you feel that the bed is not strong enough yet, add more support. A good way to increase the stability is by using V-shaped branches.

By the way, wood is strongest in its natural shape, so a 10cm diameter naturally grown is much much stronger than a 10cm diameter cut out of a larger log.

Step 7: Adding the Railing

A bunkbed needs a railing. My approach was to have places the kids can slide through the railing to get down, in the higher bed this is at the spot where the kid can get down on the lower bed. This works pretty good. The kids have NEVER fallen out of the beds in the last year and a half. The railing's height is determined by how active the kids are and how big of course. Mine (the railing, not the kids!) are approximately 30 cm and the the largest "holes" are not more than 10 cm in diameter.

A good way to make the railing is to find odd-shaped branches, put a couple of them together and that normally does the job. You can involve the kids again in this step, which is the part where you give the bed its look...

Step 8: Before You're Done- Test It!

This step might sound obvious, but I just would like to make sure I am not responsible for any broken arms or such things....

When the railing is ready have the kids test the stability of the bed while you are watching. Let them play around, find ways to climb up on the bed, see if there are spots in the railing that are too wide and if necessary add branches that close gaps or make it easier to get onto the bed. My experience is that the kids can climb a lot better than we would expect.

Ok, now all you need to do is send me a photo...



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    39 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I think that i will tell my parents about this one!!!! My little sisters will love it!!!

    hey there,

    first of thank you for your comment. I guess it is obvious that I don't agree with everything you say, but I really appreciate your concerns and that you did elaborate instead of just saying" its unsafe" or something like that. About the Mr. Idiot part, well I guess I am saying that to everyone driving a car, especially with kids, since statistically that is the kids killer NR. 1. We all have different things that upset us in others...

    There are a couple of things I see differently, most importantly I don't see and have actually myself not experience ready-made Bunk-beds as more stable or more secure and my bed actually complies to a lot of general rules, eg. the width of the "holes" (sorry I don't really know how to say this, not an English native speaker). We have actually sat on the beds with two grown ups, probably about 150kg, so 8- 10 times the weight of my kids, so as far as the stability is concerned I think that is ok. As for the splintering, here I have had the experience that the wood in its natural shape splinters much less then if it is millet, simple because millet wood cuts fibres.

    As for the steps, that one really is something I would advise other to think about. Our bed is actually not that high (might look a lot higher in the pics).

    I will see to change the instructable a bit to give more attention to these topics.

    1 reply

    Seems that the second bed is about 1.50m from the floor looking at the door that gives a kind of scale. Not that high.

    Great project and great instructable. I couldn't imagine that we can find natural wood in a town like Berlin.


    4 years ago

    that is awesome I'm moving and I will do that in mine know room


    4 years ago on Step 8


    I would have loved something like this when I was a tot. Now for the matching desk and chair.


    4 years ago

    Dangggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg this i the most impressive project i have seen in a long time


    4 years ago on Introduction

    These are amazing!! Inspirational indeed.

    My sister and I fell flat on our faces from 5+ ft high bunks several times. Then again we fell or jumped off of a lot of stuff, so we were kind of experienced in the realms of terminal velocity and momentum dissipation. :)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    So your children are not allowed to go to the playground then? I mean, if falls as low as 0.5 meters is a no-no, then basically all playgrounds are out of bounds right?

    Yes, stuff can be dangerous, but what do you teach your children by telling them that EVERYTHING is dangerous?


    4 years ago on Introduction

    That's a really creative and attractive piece of work! I see that in one of the installations (the one with the green walls) you decided to add a support made of commercially milled wood. Did you find that the structure needed a bit more strength? Were these beds able to support an adult without that additional support? I'm very curious to know more about the strength of this structure, because it is apparently much stronger than its delicate natural appearance suggests.

    1 reply

    hey, thanks for the compliment. actually the space where I made the first bed was a little climbing area before, so the milled wood was there first and I built the bed and then decided to ad a piece to connect the two things. In our new home the ceiling was much lower and the room is much smaller, so the milled wood didn't really fit and I left it out. I can still sit on it when putting my kids to sleep. the stability really comes from using the wood in its natural form so that in a piece of wood the woodfibres go from start to end and there isn't any week spot like in the milled wood. Also what makes it really strong are the many different joints. When you make one, just start with something and then add branches until you are happy with the stability...have fun

    Wanting to make a loft bed for one of my kids who needs a place to put a desk. Was thinking pallet wood but I like this much better. Will have to show it to the boy and see what he says. Thanks for the idea. Good instructable!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    looking at this with my wife, we love it so much! we talked and laughed and planned and we're definitely going to go for something like this for our future kids too

    Pitera Man

    4 years ago on Step 2

    What kind of hand tool is in the first picture with you drinking? Is it homemade?

    2 replies
    pallcPitera Man

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I recommend a draw knife as that is what I have used before and have for debarking. I found a link for a nice bench clamp/vise that is handmade also that goes along with the theme of this instructable. Nice job by the way Linus. Awesome work! :-|)

    linus strothmannPitera Man

    Reply 4 years ago on Step 2

    don't know the name (not even in German). I found it among some tools my father didn't use anymore, I think it is originally to scrape of color vanish. I have seen someone take of bark with a tool specifically for that job, haven't seen it in a store yet, though.


    4 years ago

    outstanding man its great way to grow skills in kids, i loved it .