Dress up Carousel

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Project by psuedopimp posted 12-29-2008 09:42 PM 3700 views 4 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife wanted my daughter (2 1/2 yrs old) to have a carousel to hang her dress up play clothes on. She found one online for around $250 and said she would buy it, or I could build it. I chose to build it and for around $60 in materials, it turned out to be a lot cheaper (because my time is cheap). Well this is my first attempt at building something with MDF. If I have a choice in the future, I will avoid it. I chose MDF because I really hate painted wood, and the Wife wanted this to be painted white. I hate painting so in the future I will avoid that also. No joke about dust and MDF. unavoidable without a dust collector and i bet even with a good one you would have to do a once over in the whole shop to get up all that dust. unbelievable. I hate that stuff. I hate painting also. Hate it. brush strokes, sand, brush strokes, sand. tried spray paint. but that just soaked in the sides of the MDF. the face looked real good with the spray paint but the sides just wouldn’t cooperate. turns out rollers are more efficient and smoother finish than brushes. Also nailing the dang thing together was a chore. 1/4” MDF likes to split. but it finally went together.

So this was a christmas gift for my little girl. I finished it on christmas eve with one last coat of paint and installing the mirrors. The best part of this project was installing the mirrors. that meant it was done. but nothing beats seeing your little girl on christmas playing with your creation versus a store bought toy.

10 comments so far

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 4821 days

#1 posted 12-29-2008 11:09 PM


Neat job. I’m sure your little dress up doll will enjoy it for years to come. FYI, I’ve found that pre-drilling the MDF helps keep it from splitting. As for painting MDF, I apply an oil based primer first. Thanks for posting the pics. I can see one of these in my future as my almost 21 month grand daughter is just discovering ‘dress up’ play. Your project is definitely going into my “favorites” bin.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View kewald's profile


127 posts in 4493 days

#2 posted 12-29-2008 11:19 PM

I like MDF for painted projects and especially for jigs and shop cabinets – it’s cheap, flat and mostly ready to be painted.

MDF should be screwed together, not nailed. And, as stated earlier, the holes must be pre-drilled. The best screws for MDF are confirmat screws. They, and the special drill bit and drivers needed, are available at McFeely’s I have used pocket screws and drywall screws, but confirmats are the best. Glue and screw the joints.

Painting the edges of MDF can be done, but first they need to be sealed with a thinned coat of wood glue, then sanded. The faces of MDF are factory sanded to 220 grit, and take paint very well. Rollers work well as does spraying. Like you, I hate to brush paint on.

As with any wood, good dust collection or avoidance is necessary to prevent lung damage.

I’m sure it will be enjoyed so much as to overcome your frustrations.

-- Always do the Right Thing the Right Way the First Time - if you can figure out what that is! Ken, Spring Branch, TX

View russty's profile


45 posts in 4350 days

#3 posted 12-29-2008 11:27 PM

like it
I may copy it

-- With God's help all things are possible- even woodworking

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5073 days

#4 posted 12-30-2008 03:32 PM

love it.
I saw something similar in a Canadian Woodworking magazine… it’s in my “I want” list.
I like your shelves better than the plans that I saw. Nicely done.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Matt (Upper Cut)'s profile

Matt (Upper Cut)

264 posts in 4725 days

#5 posted 12-30-2008 09:02 PM

I hate MDF as well. Sometimes I must use it though, when the job (customer) requires.

Some things I have learned.
  1. Freshly cut edges are sharp!
  2. The sheets are heavy!
  3. Wear a mask
  4. Wear eye protection, the dust can get in there too
  5. Seal the freshly cut edges with kilz, shellac, glue/water mix, something
  6. MDF looks great when sprayed
  7. Avoid nails
  8. Glue all joints well

If possible, avoid it. Use paint grade lumber instead (poplar is good) and plywood sheet goods.

Your project looks awesome, and I know if I show it to my wife I’ll be building one in a Christmas or two.

Is it on a lazy susan?

-- Matt Gradwohl, Upper Cut Woodworks,

View CoreyLiepelt's profile


20 posts in 4753 days

#6 posted 12-31-2008 06:02 AM


My girls love to play dress up, and my wife has suggested to me on more than one occasion that I build something for them to keep the clothes in. Question—how do the slotted holes in the top work? Are those for hangers?

-- Dublin, OH

View psuedopimp's profile


10 posts in 4729 days

#7 posted 01-01-2009 05:02 AM

yes it is on a lazy susan. never underestimate how difficult it is to allign one of those!! the holes were routed to hold hangers. but be carefull, because the hangers you use as a template are sure to be smaller than the ones the wife wants to use. thanks for the tips for handling MDF. I hope to use real lumber from now on.

View Karson's profile


35229 posts in 5313 days

#8 posted 01-01-2009 05:08 AM

I see lots of white paint all over the place in the mirror reflection. I hope that wasn’t a good workbench.

Nice job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View clieb91's profile


4068 posts in 4847 days

#9 posted 01-01-2009 05:31 AM

Psuedo, I to may have to build something similiar to this to go with my daughter’s newest play area. How big is it it kind of looks tall for a 2 1/2 year old.
I am sure she loved it though and I hear ya about how nice it is to watch her play with something built.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View psuedopimp's profile


10 posts in 4729 days

#10 posted 01-06-2009 01:21 AM

it is about 4 ft tall. nothing a monkey and step stool can’t figure out! She does have a little trouble hanging up the clothes, but i don’t think she would anyway if it was only 2 feet tall.

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