Recent projects: changing table/dresser and baby bed

(Here are a couple of recent projects I completed this fall in my dad’s shop…)

One of my daughters had a baby this summer–our very first grandchild–and we’re tickled pink.  It has been my plan for many years that when any of my kids provided me with a grandchild, I would provide them with a handmade crib.  So I went through my dad’s collection of clipped woodworking magazine articles and sat down with my daughter to let her choose the one I would build her.

What we found was actually two pieces of baby furniture that are sort of a matched set, using similar design elements.  The plans are from Wood Magazine, and you can buy them online at http://www.woodstore.net; search for “3-in-1 Bed for All Ages” for the crib plans, and search for “Double-duty changing table/dresser” to find the changing table plans.

In this post I’ll describe the changing table/dresser project–that’s the first one I did after our granddaughter was born.  The main case are drawer fronts are made from three-quarter-inch maple plywood, and the top rail, legs and other structural elements are made from hard maple.  The curved top cap was made by laminating three one-quarter-inch thick planks of maple on a curved form.  I glued up solid maple for the top.  The shelves on the right side are adjustable, and the drawers are mounted on full-extension drawer slides.  The finish is several coats of satin polyurethane.

When I finished the changing table, I started in on the crib, which seemed at the time to be a much more daunting project.  The crib is designed to be convertible to a toddler bed, and later to a full-sized bed as the child grows up, so there are extra components to be made that have to be stored for future use.

The crib also has the same sort of curved head-board cap that is on the changing table, but unfortunately, the sizes were not the same, so the same form could not be re-used for the crib.  This was one of the more challenging aspects of building the bed and the changing table–I had never tried any bent laminations like these before.

To make the lamination form, I cut three blanks from a sheet of OSB, and traced the curve on one of them, using a bent strip of thin wood to make the curve.  I cut close to the line on the bandsaw, then sanded to the line with a spindle sander.  That piece was then used as a template with a flush-cutting router pattern bit to make the other two pieces.  All three pieces were screwed together to make a form of the necessary thickness for the bending/lamination process.  (If this seems like a lot of trouble to go to, believe me, it is–but the end result is pretty much worth the effort.)

I resawed some maple on the bandsaw and then ran the boards through a surface planer to reduce them to the quarter-inch thickness I needed.  Then it was simply a matter of glue and clamps.  Plenty of clamps.  My dad wasn’t around when I glued this up, so I was on my own, but if you do something like this, I’d recommend an extra pair of hands.

There were a lot of slats to cut, but they were easy to install in the grooved upper and lower rails of the head- and foot-boards, using spacer blocks to keep them separated the right distance apart.  The rails and legs of the head- and foot-boards are joined with mortise-and-tenon joints; the end panels are connected with long connector bolts into steel cross-dowels.

Finish was as with the changing table–several coats of satin polyurethane.  (It was sort of a pain to apply the finish to all of those slats; in retrospect, it might have been better to finish them before I installed them.)

I was pretty happy with the result, as was my daughter–and I’m sure when my granddaughter is old enough, she’ll enjoy it, too!

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