My wife and I decided that our son’s obsession with the PBS Kids show, Dinosaur Train, presented us with a great opportunity to get into some trouble. You see, the young lad was rapidly approaching 2 years old and it was time for a “big boy bed”. After much back and forth about whether it should be the Dinosaur Train, a Firetruck or a Track Hoe (all of which are the coolest things on the planet when you’re 2 yrs old) we settled on the first option and started formulating a plan.
Let me say at this juncture that I firmly believe that this is the only Dinosaur Train bed in existence. After many, many hours of online research, I was unable to turn up any sort of plan, picture, sketch or even mention of someone else making this before me (which would’ve been nice because then I could have stolen …umm…borrowed their ideas).
After a couple of weeks of kicking ideas around, we decided to build a basic twin bed frame using standard 2×4 framing lumber (easy enough to find a Sketchup plan online for that one) and then use cabinet grade 3/4″ plywood to make the “train” part. This is where things got interesting. You see, my wife (though she will deny it til she’s blue in the face) is a pretty talented artist (and chef, but that’s another story…) so we set about figuring out just how we could first of all, get a reasonably accurate giant template of the Dinosaur Train. The internet abounds with reasonably high resolution pictures of said train but we needed something that could be blown up to around 8’x 4′–no easy task. I finally found my saving grace, www.blockposters.com–here you can upload any image and punch in the size of the “poster” you need. It will then spit out a multipage PDF of your source image exploded across however many pages it takes to get to your desired poster size. Yes, there is quite a lot of pixelation, but for our purposes, it didn’t matter. We got to work printing and laying out the giant train picture, then carefully taped it all together and then cut it out. In the end, we wound up with a big floppy sheet that kinda looked just like the Dinosaur Train. Next up was laying the template onto a sheet of plywood and tracing around it to get the basic shape. I then cut it out with a jigsaw. Step and repeat for the opposite side of the train.
Now the REALLY fun part (and where my wife steps in to take the reins…) translating the detail of the train onto the cutouts and starting the painstaking task of painting the details. This literally took weeks to do (did I mention yet that my wife was 6 months pregnant with our 2nd child at the time?). Once we were happy with the details, I finished the side panels with a couple of coats of poly and let them sit for a week in the shop to off gas. After that, it was lug the whole thing upstairs and screw the sucker together. Time for the big reveal to a very happy small boy….All Aboard!