Contemporary Maple Convertible Crib/Bed

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Project by Calmudgeon posted 06-24-2019 04:55 PM 529 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I learned that my son and daughter-in-law were expecting our first grandchild, I offered to build them a convertible crib/bed. They thought that was a good idea, but could I first build them a dresser/change table, so I did that first. We got word that my daughter-in-law was going into labour just as I was putting a few last finishing touches on this beast, so we packed it up, drove the 300 km to their house and set it up so it would be there when they got home. They won’t use it for a little while, but psychologically, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Like many who have posted similar projects on LJ, I started with the Wood Magazine plans, but like most I employed them more as a jumping off point than a destination. In a number of regards, I simplified the look/aesthetic, but I also added some complications for myself. Most notably I elected to mortise the spindles directly into the rails rather than employing the slot-and spacer-method. This became particularly challenging when it came to the curved side rails (another departure from the original).

I wrestled a bit with such matters as the size of the legs, because the dimensions that make most sense for a crib aren’t necessarily those that would look best on a full-size bed. In the end, I concluded that it would spend more of its lifetime as a bed than as a crib, and went with slightly heavier dimensions.

I encountered a rough patch when it came to the milling the spindles. My original attempt, governed largely by the material I had on hand at the time, was to resaw 4/4 material. Those with more experience with resawing probably can see where this is headed already. Ripping the 4/4 material unleashed all the inner tension demons in the maple, and I was left with a lot of spindles that had some curvature in them. In the end, I discarded them all. By that time, I’d visited the wholesaler for more 8/4 material, so I planed that down to the finished width (1.5”) and then ripped strips a few thousandths over finished thickness. I then dialed in the final thickness on the drum sander before doing the roundovers.

I had originally intended to use dowels for the major joinery, but after some success in making jigs for mortising in the spindles, I opted for loose tenon joinery instead for some additional strength. That was a first for me.

I wanted to do something that absolutely set this apart from any commercial product, so I arrived at the inlaid medallion in the headboard. It’s recessed into the headboard and fastened with a 1/4” assembly bolt from the back side. There’s also an embedded 5mm shelf pin that prevents it from being rotated and removed by an inquisitive toddler. The notion is that I can further personalize this for my granddaughter as she grows older by swapping it out for other designs, perhaps even fulfill requests when she’s old enough to voice her preferences.

As is my habit, I finished all the pieces with sanding sealer then satin pre-cat lacquer before glue-up/assembly.

Constructive criticism welcome.

-- "As are the things we make, so are we ourselves." - Lin Yutang

4 comments so far

View Calmudgeon's profile


281 posts in 1842 days

#1 posted 06-24-2019 05:05 PM

My process for the spindle mortises.

Final result …

-- "As are the things we make, so are we ourselves." - Lin Yutang

View Calmudgeon's profile


281 posts in 1842 days

#2 posted 06-24-2019 05:14 PM

My process for the mortises in the curved rails.

1. Use the mortising jig to create guide mortises in the original block of wood.

2. Extend those mortises down into the block of wood using a 3/8” brad point bit, varying the depth accordingly.

3. Shape the rail on the bandsaw.

4. Clean out the mortise with a chisel (no photo).

-- "As are the things we make, so are we ourselves." - Lin Yutang

View Ivan's profile


14650 posts in 3282 days

#3 posted 06-24-2019 07:50 PM

Wow! That’s awesome versatile design – just wait some serious furniture factory see this…

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Hazem's profile


214 posts in 1663 days

#4 posted 06-25-2019 04:27 AM

Looks great. Simple but elegant.

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