How to Build a Homemade Nascar-Themed Race Car Bed for Toddlers

photo of race car bed

I first primed each side of the bed with a white primer paint, then added a red water-based enamel paint as a base for the airbrushed details

Back in 2002, I built my oldest son, Matthew, a blue race car bed for his “big boy”  2 year birthday. I didn’t want to buy him one of those plastic Little Tikes beds–they have this mass-produced soulless look to them, in my opinion. I was pretty sure I could learn how to build a homemade racing themed bed for him with my own skills at woodworking and airbrush painting abilities.  Turns out,  the bed turned out great!

I bought the race car bed plans online, and, after I saw that my son enjoyed his cool new bed and showed it off to his friends, a neighbor suggested that I sell them online.


Here, I’ve added some of the stripes, tires, and fleshed out where Dale Jr. would sit.

I thought, “Hey, that’s a great idea!”  and immediately whipped together my very first website.  It was a ghastly design–but hey, it was 2002, and it was not much worse than other websites at the time.  BTW, I built it in Frontpage.  UGH.

Anyway, so, after several days of manically checking my emails for ONE response, I finally got an interested buyer–who wanted me to make him a Earnhardt Nascar style car.

As you can see from the photo of my son’s race car bed, I would need to design something myself–and the customer also wanted me to build in a “trunk” toy chest at the head of the bed!

nascar bed photo

Here is the finished assembled car bed. Notice the toybox “trunk” in the back. I had a movie contact me to see if I could build them on–but they needed it built and shipped in one weekend! No way!

Well, the pictures you see are the result of my design–and I finished it off with a custom airbrushed paint job to resemble Dale Earnhardt’s real car.  I didn’t want it to look like one of those cheap plastic Chinese beds–plus, I made it out of 3/4″ cabinet grade plywood for a quality build.

I designed it so it could be assembled without any tools by the customer–it incorporated slide tabs that fit together snugly and can be assembled in under three minutes with two people, or about 5 minutes by one person.  Not too shabby!

I used a water-based enamel paint to paint it (after I primed it with Kilz), and then I airbrushed it to look like Dale Junior’s red car design.  I even cut out a stencil that read “Good Year” and made the tires look kind of real.  I didn’t really like the flat decal-based “paint jobs” of those mass-produced car bed designs.

I sold that car bed for approximately $900 ten years ago, plus about $200 extra to ship it.  Not bad for my first attempt–and I made several more before I decided that building beds by yourself is quite a lot of work for a side-job.  Here is a Jeff Gordon bed I built.

I’ve considered creating plans to sell online, but I’m not sure that there is a lot of demand for homemade race car beds anymore.  If you think there is, feel free to comment below.


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Ballpoint Pen Art: Sketching with Pens


ballpoint pen sketch

Use whatever you have handy–in this case, a ballpoint pen!

Last night, I had a meeting with a couple artist/maker friends of mine, and I arrived at the pub a bit early.  Instead of breaking out the smartphone and wiling my hour away texting and surfing the interwebs, I politely asked my bartender at Caldera Public House if he might spare a piece of paper, and I set to work!

I’ve always liked sketching when in a class or waiting.  I find it to be so casual and I use whatever I have available to me.  In this case, I had one of my absolute FAVORITE sketching tools, a cheap ballpoint pen.

> Want some drawing and painting step by step guides?

Why do I love ballpoint pens?  Because, you can get exceptional levels of pressure and flow on them, and you can achieve great detail with only one drawing implement.  In this sketch, I decided to focus on what was closest to me, my silverware.  I had a wonderful martini (or two) as well, but I figured that I would need to repeatedly move my still-life subject as to make it difficult to properly draw it. Bottoms up!

Critically, I kind of wish I had kept the highlights in mind a bit better–because a good, crisp white highlight (or shiny spot) can be that one touch that makes a drawing completely POP off the page.  Another fun thing about sketching with pens is that you have to leave your lines–there is no erasing–so, you have to make things more “sketchy” and it sort of takes some of the pressure off to make it look “just right.”

Either way, I had a good time, and I didn’t even need my electronic devices to entertain myself.

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