3-in-1 baby bed #1: The plan, the stock, and some adjustments

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Blog entry by JSOvens posted 11-14-2016 07:41 AM 1459 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of 3-in-1 baby bed series Part 2: Rough milling - the rough way »

The start of this series is long overdue, as I “began” this project in March (quotes on “began”, as I had a very slow start) before the birth of my first child. Well, along came the June due date and suddenly I have a family of three, and not always a lot of time to get things done in the garage. Well, my daughter is now 4-1/2 months old, and I’m of course still not finished, so I had to get a crib for her from Craigslist.

I’m sure this isn’t a new story to a lot of hobbyists: partner requests a piece of furniture, realization later creeps in that the timing isn’t going to work out, said piece of furniture is instead bought from the store. My wife and I are not too concerned about this, I would have never agreed to simply make a crib as it’s too temporary to pour that much effort and money into. A 3-in-1 bed, however (which starts as a crib, converts to a toddler bed and finally to a full size bed), will last the entire time she lives with us, and possibly longer if she takes it with her.

I began SketchingUp (is this the present participle for SketchUp?) a plan last December, gaining inspiration from three major sources:

1) A very popular plan from WOOD Magazine which I mainly used to get nominal dimensions and safety information (the safety standards for cribs on the Gov. of Canada website was not trivial to navigate, though I eventually found what I needed).

2) This baby bed made by a Wood Whisperer Guild member from which I took the idea of adapting one of TWW’s iconic leg designs as well as the varied stile widths.

3) This commercially sold 3-in-1 crib from which I borrowed design elements from the headboard and footboard shapes.

Below you can see my first design.

My two favourite features of this design are the brobdingnagian proportions (I liked the idea of something very beefy and sturdy used to support such a small, delicate, yet precious payload) and the use of curves everywhere in the design. This would also be my first foray into the world of bent laminations for all of the rails.

The dark features were originally intended as contrasting wood covers to hide the tear-down hardware I was planning on using to assemble the various bed forms. I had to revise several parts of this design mainly for simplicity’s sake, as this is my first large furniture project. The image below shows the updated design (just the crib).

The major difference is that I have done away with the lower curves on the big headboard panel and the upper sideboard panels. There are two reasons for this: the first is that it greatly simplifies the mortise and tenon joinery for the stiles and the second has to do with the board I found for the big panel shown below.

The figure on the board looks quite nice, but it doesn’t lend itself well to the shape of the original panel. Eliminating the lower curve preserves a larger amount of area of the nice board and provides a straight edge which better compliments the grain and figure. I also slightly changed the shape of the legs (probably not noticeably) and the method of joining the major components together, but I’ll give more details on that in time.

With the plan drawn up, I proceeded to a local lumber yard and picked up a nice load of 8/4 cherry which I will be using for this project.

The delivery of that pile marked the last time our car was ever parked in the garage.

Since I have made progress on this project since I received the stock in March, I will probably make relatively frequent updates.

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

2 comments so far

View CaptainSkully's profile


1612 posts in 4168 days

#1 posted 11-15-2016 02:40 AM

That’s a great design and well worth the wait. Can’t wait to see your progress. Thanks for blogging it! My window of opportunity to make a crib for my son was absconded by a 90 mile commute for several months, so I totally feel you…

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View JSOvens's profile


78 posts in 2266 days

#2 posted 11-19-2016 05:45 AM

CaptainSkully, I have been both excited and very nervous about this project, but things seem to be going well so far.

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

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