- Ideas & How-Tos
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Sweet dreams are just around the corner with this race car bed for kids. Build it yourself with easy project tips that will help you reach the finish line in no time.
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The bed is designed for a twin-sized mattress, and the sides of the bed are designed for easy rout and repeat shaping to make the multiple parts match perfectly. A simple technique allows you to paint a majority of the bed before it is put together.
To make assembly of the bed easier, we’ve provided four animations that will help you visualize the steps. Watch the videos for some revved-up assembly instructions.
On a sheet of 3/4" MDF, lay out one side (A) (Project Diagram) and (Drawing 1, Project Diagram). Draw the straight lines of the side: the rear bumper, front bumper, trunk, rear window, top, windshield, and part of the hood.
Beginning at the rear bumper, create the radius lines for the curved shapes of the car side (Photo 1). For the large radius, use a quart-size paint can; for the smaller radius, use one of the 2" soffit vents.
When you get to the hood profile, clamp a 3/16" dowel at the front of the car and flex the dowel until it curves to flow into the flat section of the hood and trace the shape (Photo 2).
Use a jigsaw to cut the car side to shape. Stay on the waste side of the cut with the saw, about 1⁄16" from the layout line (Photo 3). Sand the edges of the car to the layout line. Note: The exact shape is not critical; slight variations are fine—just sand the edge so it’s smooth and flows nicely.
To shape the sawn edges, a sander and a wood file are the tools of choice. For flat areas and outside curves, use a random-orbit sander with 80-grit sandpaper (Photo 4).
For the inside curves and tight spaces, use the wood file (Photo 5). Finish all the edges after shaping with 120-grit sandpaper.
When one side of the car is ready, stack the car side on the next sheet of MDF and trace the outline; remove the finished side and rough cut the second side with a jigsaw on the waste side of the line.
To complete the second side (A), you could jigsaw the part, slightly oversized, and use the sander and wood file to bring it to final shape. But this can be a lot of work, especially when you have multiple parts to make. To make perfect duplicates fast, use a router and a flush trim bit (Photo 6). The original part is used as a pattern. Use this copy procedure--called pattern-routing--to make the duplicate side. Use this technique for other parts, too--the window panels (B), fenders (C), tires (D), and wheels (E).
Place the pattern side (A) on a pair of sawhorses and stack the rough-cut second side on top. Align the factory edges and clamp the parts together. Insert a flush trim bit in your router with the bearing on the smooth pattern part; run the router along the edge (Photo 7) to make a perfect copy of the pattern. The bearing on the bottom of the bit will follow the template and trim the edge of the rough-cut part to make a perfect copy.
Now place the pattern on a remaining section of MDF (Project Diagram). Slide the bottom edge of the side so it overhangs the MDF panel by 2" (Photo 8). Trace the side; to make the window panel (B), set aside the pattern, and rough-cut the part.
Layout the window openings (Drawing 2, Project Diagram) and use the 2" soffit vents to draw the radius in the corners of the windows (Photo 9).
To cut the windows, drill a 3?8" hole into the openings, insert the jigsaw blade through the hole, and cut the shape (Photo 10).
Use a wood file to clean up the window openings, and then restack the window panel (B) on the side panel (A) with the 2" bottom offset (Drawing 1, Project Diagram). Clamp the parts and pattern-rout the window panel, the bearing of the router bit will follow the side to make a perfect copy for the window panel.
To make a duplicate window panel for the opposite side of the car, place the completed window panel on the remaining sheet of MDF--align the edges, trace the part, remove the template, and cut the window panel to shape using a jig saw, gutting on the waste side of the line.
Restack the window panels and clamp. Pattern-rout to complete the second window panel.
Lay out the shape of the first fender (C) to use as a template (Drawing 3, Project Diagram). Jigsaw the part and smooth the edges with a sander and wood file. Use this template to trace, jigsaw, and trim the remaining three fenders.
Use a couple of screws to hold the narrow parts together while pattern-routing the parts (Photo 11 and 12). The screw holes in the template can be filled later.
Lay out the shape of the tire (D) (Drawing 4, Project Diagram), then cut the inside opening by drilling an access hole and cutting the opening with a jigsaw (Photo 13). Cut the outside shape of the tire, now use a wood file to shape the inside opening of the tire and sand the tire smooth.
Use the first tire as a template to pattern-rout the remaining tires.
Cut the four wheels (E) (Drawing 5, Project Diagram) from the MDF, lay out the shape and the bolt-hole pattern. Drill the 1/4" bolt holes and jigsaw the circle, leaving it rough.
A Geometry Lesson: There are six bolt holes plus the center hole in each wheel. The six holes form a hexagon. To lay out this hexagon, draw a circle with a 2 1/2" radius around the centerpoint of the wheel. Then move the point of the compass to any point on the drawn circle and draw an arc to intersect the circle (Photo 14). Move the compass to this intersection and repeat. When all six points are marked, the hexagon--or 6-point bolt pattern--is complete.
Place a wheel on each tire and attach with screws (Photo 15).
Now pattern-rout each wheel and tire (Photo 16) to get a nice flush edge.
Number the parts, and then disassemble the wheels and tires. Place a 3?8" roundover bit in your router and smooth the edges of the sides, window panels, fenders, wheels, and tires where shown (Drawings 1-5, Project Diagram).
Before you paint the side parts, some assembly is needed. Attach the parts with screws, and then remove the parts. After you've painted the components, you can reassemble without damaging the paint. The screws will go right back in all of the existing holes for a pit-stop-fast final assembly.
Cut 2"×4" material for the base cleats (F), divider cleats (G), seat cleats (H), and exhaust (I) (Project Diagram).
Lay out the cleats on the inside face of the side (A) (Drawing 1, Project Diagram) and secure with double-faced tape (Photo 17). Leave enough room between the divider cleat and the base cleat to accept the plywood base later--use a scrap of 1/2" plywood to make sure of adequate spacing. Flip the side over and attach the cleats with screws. Next remove the parts and remove the tape. Then reinstall the parts using glue and screws.
Stack a window panel on top of the side (Drawing 6, Project Diagram) and attach with 1 1/4" screws and glue, driving screws through the side into the window panel as shown.
For the exhaust (I), lay out and drill the 2" holes (Drawing 7, Project Diagram) using a spade drill bit. Sand the parts smooth.
Flip the window panel assembly over and layout the fender and exhaust locations (Drawing 2, Project Diagram). Set the parts in position and trace the shapes of the fenders (Photo 18).
Use double-faced tape to secure the fenders and exhaust to the window panel assembly (Photo 19). Turn the assembly over and secure the parts using 2" flathead screws where shown (Drawing 6, Project Diagram).
Repeat this process for the opposite side of the car.
To locate screw points on the back side of a panel for irregular shapes, such as the fenders, trace them (Photo 18 & 19), and remove the part. In the traced outline, you can locate and drill pilot holes for the screws that will be driven from the back face of the car side assembly. Now attach the parts with double-faced tape on the window panel, flip the assembly over, and drive the screws through the holes into the fenders.
Cut the plywood base (J) to size (Project Diagram); from 2"×4" material; cut the rails (K).
Secure the rails to the plywood base (Drawing 8, Project Diagram) using glue and screws. Use a scrap of 2"×4" to inset the ends of the rails from the edge of the base (Photo 20).
Cut 2"×6" stock for the spoiler sides (L), and cut 2"×4" material for the braces (M) (Project Diagram).
Lay out the top and front angled edge of the spoiler sides (Drawing 9, Project Diagram); cut the parts with a jigsaw. Sand the parts and assemble the headboard frame (Drawing 10, Project Diagram) using glue and 2 1/2" screws (Photo 21).
Cut two pieces of 1/2" plywood for the headboard and seat dividers (N); sand the dividers and secure one to the headboard frame, set the remaining part aside.
Cut the spoiler (O) from 3/4"-thick MDF and lay out the top arc (Drawing 11, Project Diagram). Mark the points of the curve, clamp a dowel to the face of the part, bend the dowel, trace the arc, and then use a quart paint can to round the corners of the part. Jigsaw the arc and sand smooth.
Use a 3/8" roundover bit in your router to ease the front and back edges. Sand the parts and attach the spoiler to the headboard assembly (Photo 22). The spoiled should be centered side-to-side on the assembly, and the bottom edge of the spoiled should be flush with the bottom face of the brace.
Cut the 2"×4" stock for the back braces (P) and seat braces (Q) (Project Diagram). From 1/2" plywood, cut the seat back (R) and seat (S). Sand the parts smooth. Cut a 1"×3" to length for the seat caps (T).
Attach one seat brace to the two back braces (Drawing 12, Project Diagram) with screws and glue. Attach the assembly to the remaining divider (N) (Photo 23).
When the glue has cured, add the seat back (R) (Photo 24) and seat (S) using glue and clamps (Drawing 13, Project Diagram).
Add the remaining seat brace (Q) under the front edge of the plywood seat.
Place the seat caps (T) on the top and front edge of the seat assembly and secure with glue and clamps. When the glue cures, use a router to ease the top and front cap edges with a 3?8" roundover bit. Sand the caps and plywood joints smooth and set the seat aside.
Cut the bottom (U) from 3/4"-thick MDF (Program Diagram). Mark the points of the curve (Drawing 14), clamp a dowel to the face of the part, bend the dowel, trace the arc, and then use a soffit vent to draw the round corners of the part. Cut the shape with a jigsaw and sand the edges smooth.
Use a 3/8" roundover bit in your router to ease the top front edge of the toy box bottom. Don't rout around to the sides--you'll ease the corners after the toy box is assembled.
Cut the toy box front/back (V) and ends (W) to length from 1"×6" material. Use a 3/4"-square dowel for the cleats (X). Sand the inside faces of the front, back, ends, and cleats.
Assemble the toy box using glue and clamps (Drawing 15, Project Diagram) and (Photo 25) and add the cleats to the inside corners of the drawer.
Use a 3/8" roundover bit in your router to ease the top edges and corners of the toy box. Don't rout the bottom of the box.
Sand the box smooth and glue to the bottom. When the glue has cured, remove the clamps and with the help of a file complete the roundover of the bottom corners (Photo 26).
Cut the last part, the bumper (Y), to length from a 2"×4". Drill the 2" headlight holes using a spade drill bit (Drawing 16, Project Diagram). Sand the part smooth.
Attach the handles by drilling 3/8"-diameter holes on the back face 1/4" deep (these counterbores allow the bumper to sit flat on the front of the toy box). In the center of the holes, drill the rest of the way through the board with a 3/16" drill bit.
Mount the handles using 1 1/2" screws. Secure the bumper to the box by driving screws from inside the box.
To prepare for painting, you'll disassemble several components. This will make painting much easier. Remove the handles and bumper from the toy box, the wheels from the tires, and the fenders and exhaust from the sides.
Apply primer to all of the bed components. The bottom assembly, however, does not need finishing.
Mix 50% water/50% wood glue and apply to the routed and cut edges of the MDF. This will seal the open pours and allow the primer to coat the material without being drawn into the MDF like a sponge.
Paint the bed components per Setup Drawings 1 and 2 (Project Diagram). Apply two coats of paint to all surfaces and allow the paint to cure for one week.
Reattach the tires to the wheels and the fenders and exhaust to the sides. To mount the tires to the car, center the wheels in each fender and drill 1/8" pilot holes through the wheel into the car side assembly. Now drive 1/4"×1 1/2" lag screws and 1/4" fender washers through the 1/4" holes in the wheels into the car.
Place the soffit vents into the exhaust holes and bumper holes. Line up the vents parallel to each other as you insert them. If needed, use a block of wood and a hammer to tap them into place.
Reinstall the handles on the bumper and attach the bumper to the toy box.
Flip the toy box over and secure the casters to the bottom using screws. Place the casters so the edges of the mounting plates are about 1" from the edges of the toy box bottom.
Place the base where you want to position the bed in the room. Use Setup Drawings 1 and 2 (Project Diagram) to help you assemble the bed.
Slip the two sides onto the base (the plywood should slip over the base cleats mounted to the sides). Align the back of the sides with the headboard end of the base. Drill pilot holes and attach the base to the bottom cleats (F) using #10×1 1/2" flathead sheet-metal screws and trim washers (Setup Drawing 1).
Slide the headboard into position--the back edge of the headboard should align with the back end of the base assembly (Setup Drawing 1, Project Diagram). Install no screws at this time.
Place the seat into position; the seat will slip over the seat cleats (H) that are mounted on the sides.
When the seat and headboard are in position, attach the assemblies. Drive three 2 1/2" cabinet screws through the sides into the headboard on both sides of the car. Secure the seat and seat back to the cleats using #10×1 1/2" flathead sheet-metal screws and trim washers.
Slip the toy box under the bench. Place a twin-size box spring and mattress into the bed, and let the racing dreams begin!