Making a 1:12 scale loft bed out of paper mache

27 June 2015 at 17:26 (Artwork, Random Randomness) (, , , )

Right, here’s how I made the loft bed for my dolls’ house. To get the proportions, I based it on measurements from my old real-life bunk bed, scaled it down by 12, and made some tweaks.

What you will need:
Cardboard, about A3 size, roughly
Glue (pref silicone or, second-best, PVA)
Metal ruler with millimetre measurements
Craft knife
Cutting board
Masking tape and coarse sandpaper, maybe


PROTIP: In order to make the paper mache stage less fiddly, you could paper mache all the individual components FIRST, then assemble at the end. Alternatively, rather than paper mahce, you could just glue cardstock on to each component, then glue together at the end.

First thing is to make the base of the bed. So measure out some cardboard, 140mm long by 70mm wide. Glue them together, back to back, and allow glue to set.

I forgot to take a picture 😦

You then need to make a lip to go around it, so measure out 4 strips of cardboard. Two of them need to be 70mm x 10mm, the other two need to be 140mm x 10mm.

Glue them to the edges of the base, as shown:

I forgot to take a picture again, so ignore the already-attached legs above. There should be a gap between the corner edges of the lip. This is okay, because the legs will be attached here.

NOW we’re making the legs.

Cut out 8 strips of cardboard, 160mm long by 5mm wide.


Now take FOUR of these, and leave the other four aside.

What you need to do is mark off 37mm from the top of each of these four, then measure down another 10mm.

The cut along each of these lines.

Now get your other 4 uncut strips of cardboard. Attach the 37mm piece you cut off one of the other strips on to the top of the uncut strip, like so:


Repeat with the other four, then attach them on to each corner of the bed, so that it fills the gap in the lip, like this. You want it so that the shorter part is at the top of the bed.


Then glue on the longer cut piece onto the bottom of the leg. Gosh, these photos are terrible.


So you should now have something like this:


Because I as only using cheap kiddie PVA I used masking tape to keep it in place while it dried.

Next step, making the ladder.

Cut out 4 strips of cardboard, 5mm x 12mm. Glue two of each together.


Now I kind of did this bit the wrong way round, so learn from my mistake. Construct the ladder FIRST, then attach it to the bed. I did it the other way round, not knowing any better, hence the picture.

Okay, I made four rungs for the ladder, with a 25mm gap between the sides of the ladder and about 20mm gap between each rung. I didn’t bother to measure it, so just do it by eye unless you need it to be really perfect.

So the rungs are 5mm x 25mm, make four of these, then attach them, making sure the sides are aligned. Otherwise you will end up with a wonky ladder.


Then, AFTER the glue has set, THEN attach it to the bed. But first decide how the bed is going to fit into the room. Use that to determine where the ladder should go. Leave a 10mm gap from the edge of the bed. If you measured correctly, the ladder should sit at the top lip of the bed, and the legs of the ladder should be the same length as the legs of the bed. Cut/sand off any excess if you need to.

Now it looks like I got fed up and stopped taking photos at this point. Because the next photo I have is the first picture above.

You still need to make the guard rails and support bars.

So you’ll have to work it out yourself. But I am going to give you some photos of the almost-finished product from various angles so it’s easier to work out:


Right, so be prepared for your bed to go all distorted once you paper mache it. I used PVA based paste (2 parts PVA, one part water) and white copy paper. PVA paste tends to dry out the most quickly in my experience, and therefore is less likely to distort. Anyway, put a fan in front of it, sit by a breezy window, whatever you need to do, you just want it to dry out as quickly as possible.


One layer was enough, but being so small and fiddly, you can see in the photos above, you can’t get a smooth finish that way. So seriously consider cutting out all the individual pieces first, paper macheing each component, allowing them to dry thoroughly, THEN assembling the final piece. Use sandpaper to smooth down any really annoying bumps.


This was actually the way I made Cal’s bed. I paper mached all the individual parts, then assembled the bed, then did another couple of layers on top to reinforce the joins. It was a LOT easier to make (yeah, being larger also helped hehe). (Still haven’t managed to restock on the white paint, so it may be a while before I finish it).




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