The Mrs. and I are expecting our firstborn in a few months. Your life changes in unexpected ways with the mere mention of this event. One of side effects of this experience is that money starts disappearing for baby stuff. There are tons of items you must locate, one of which is a crib. After a day trucking through baby stores I decided that I could build one just as good as the ones I was seeing in the store. As so began my quest to do just that.
My first advice to anyone building their own crib is to not tell anyone you’re building your own crib. For some reason everyone you meet has an engineering degree all of the sudden, and on come endless streams of “How far apart are those slats?” or “Are you sure you know how to do this?” and my personal favorite “You can’t have any corners you know.” If you take all the advice you get from onlookers your child will be securely fastened in a heated, mythical orb that’s on the floor with no corners and no way out.
Folks have been building cribs for children long before Graco and Fisher Price handed down the “rules” to us mere mortals so I thought I would look and see what some of the excepted standards actually are.
To my relief, the standards for making a crib were actually pretty straightforward. The first rule I found had to do with slats. It’s pretty simple really; the gap between them should not be more than 2 3/8” wide and the slats themselves shouldn’t be less than 1/16” thick. I planned to put 2 1/4” between them and make them 1/4″ thick. So no worries.
The next bit was about hardware. It’s best if the youngsters can’t reach and can’t remove any hardware holding the crib together — both so they won’t hurt themselves and so they can’t take apart the crib they’re sitting in. Recessed hardware — check. There are a few other common sense things, but generally use your head and don’t make a death trap for your kiddo.
With that out of the way, I began work. The first step was to figure out how big this rig actually had to be. With the arrival of the mattress in its sealed plastic bag I took a few measurements. A 58” x 28” mattress meant that by the time the crib was built it would be slightly bigger than the doorway it needed to get through. So I would have to build it so it could be disassembled — not one of my strong suits, but doable.
The first order of business was to make a frame for the mattress itself. A few quick cuts and miters with some 3” solid oak trim made a box that was exactly as big and the mattress on top of it and it fit super snug so it would be harder for little fingers to get down there.
For the horizontal supports I laid a strip of 3/4″ trim with the flat side up on each side, again taking care to make the tolerances tight, and fastened it down with glue and brads.
Next I cut a few runners to hold the mattress out of some one-inch poplar I had lying around, and laid them in after a good sanding and knocking off the edges with a 3/8” round over bit.
The legs were constructed from two pieces of 3” x 3/4” oak trim to form a nice sturdy, thick leg that measured 46”, which is about the standard height for the cribs I could find.
Some of the cribs I found had a head and foot panel. I liked this look, and because I didn’t feel like joining that much trim together (and it’s loads cheaper) I used a piece of double-veneered, 3/4″ ply for this part. It’s thick and tough and won’t expand and contract with the weather near as much.
Sidenote: You might notice that the shop tape is switched to a Blade Armor tape from Stanley. I haven’t traded in the smaller Stanley tape but we’ve found that the Blade Armor has many great qualities; the one I dig the most is that it doesn’t scratch or mar the wood like other tapes can. The perfect combo would of course be a small 12’ tape with Blade Armor as far as I am concerned.
After the panels were cut I laid them out to get a grip on how big this was actually going to be. Afterwards I was very glad I decided to make this thing a piece of takedown furniture; it’s going to get very large very fast.
In the next installment of the crib project, we build out the rest of the panel ends and start work on the slats and how they’ll attach to the ends.