Mission style toddler bed.

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Project by derosa posted 08-21-2012 04:27 AM 2111 views 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I actually finished this about 6 weeks ago for my daughter, that’s her half hidden under the giant bunny asleep for the night, and I’m finally getting around to posting it.
Bed is made of white oak with and was measured to exactly fit the mattress from the crib, the finish is shellac that I made from a red seedlac. The whole thing was designed by me without plans and made up as I went along. This did occasionally involve me sneaking into her room at 2am to remeasure the mattress with her sleeping on it because I lost whatever I’d written the measurements on the last time.

As you can see in the pictures the head and foot boards are rather tall but that’s just because I knew that my daughter will, and has, jump on the bed an I wanted to make sure she wouldn’t fall over either one when she stumbled and land head first on the floor. The top of the mattress only sits about 12” off the floor so that she can safely fall out of bed. The third night she used it I heard a thump and went in to check, she had rolled out of bed but the drop was small enough that she didn’t wake up; I was able to just toss a blanket on her and she slept till 6am so I know it is low enough as well. All 90* edges have been chamfered with hand planes, especially on the posts, side rails and the top rails; the top of the posts have several facets all in an effort to avoid any cracked skulls or stitches. All wood was finished with 400 grit before applying the seedlac. The seedlac was done in 3 layers using a semi-french polish style. I used the pad to apply it thinly and sanded down the raised grain that came up with 400 grit and then applied a second thin coat. After the third I used a brown scotch brite pad to finish it.

The whole thing is assembled with mortise and tenon, I actually remembered to take a process pic above which shows an early test fitting. I initially messed up the spacing a touch on the slats but by trimming the tenons on two of the boards was able to fix it with no evidence of the mistake unless the whole thing comes unglued. I also used this as an excuse to buy a mortiser. The side rails are stub tenons with lag bolts. I’d initially assumed 3/8×2” would be a sufficient size and snapped 2 bolts in the same rail during the test assembly shown in the final pic. Both snapped just inside the tenon right where the threads started and the shoulder stopped; this despite predrilling the recommended size based on the McFeeley chart. I ended up buying 1/2×2” and drilling into both ends of the one side at an angle to slip past the two snapped bolts while still using the same recessed holes in the legs. It is strong enough that I’ve jumped on this bed at 275lbs and it makes no noise.

Final assembly was done in her room, it was at that point that the wife noticed that I’d completely forgotten to make slats for the mattress to sit on; I had just proudly laid the mattress in to show her how well it fit. My daughter thought having a new bed was so awesome she promptly squealed with delight and climbed on only to have the mattress fall through. 20min later I had cut, trimmed, planed and rough sanded 5 cherry boards I’d just pulled from a pallet so there is nice hardwood throughout. Considering how badly she hated her crib I’ve been very pleased at how much she loves the bed, today she voluntarily climbed into it to take a nap and she has never previously voluntarily taken a nap before let alone gotten into bed of her own volition. Most nights she sleeps through the night now that she has it making it far more then worth the effort.

-- A posse ad esse

6 comments so far

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3527 days

#1 posted 08-21-2012 06:54 AM

Mazel tov, Russ. Beautiful bed for a beautiful little girl. You are both lucky to have each other. Funny thing about kids; they keep you busy 24/7, they come up with more stuff to do than you can do yet you get it done without complaint; and still they keep you young. How does it get any better? Good job, my friend.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3543 days

#2 posted 08-21-2012 01:29 PM

Well done, looks great!!

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View JohnEinNJ's profile


94 posts in 2823 days

#3 posted 08-21-2012 01:49 PM

great build, and great story to go with it.

View JarodMorris's profile


167 posts in 2851 days

#4 posted 08-25-2012 04:18 AM

That is awesome. I have 4 (oldest is 6 1/2, youngest 10 mo.) and wish I had built one of these when my oldest was ready for one and then could have handed it down. As a parent I understand putting the blanket on her and letting her sleep. Great piece of furniture that I’m sure she’ll want to have when she has kids (hope that thought doesn’t freak you out like it did for me when I thought about my daughter having kids.)

-- Dad: Someone was supposed to pick up his toys! Son: My name isn't "Someone".

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 3312 days

#5 posted 08-26-2012 02:20 AM

Yes it does freak me out a bit. She just turned 2 today; I can remember 2 years ago seeing her born and if the next 16 move as fast as the last 2 it seems like I’ll be sending her off to college in a couple days.

-- A posse ad esse

View SuburbanDon's profile


487 posts in 3470 days

#6 posted 08-29-2012 01:31 AM

That’s really nice.

-- --- Measure twice, mis-cut, start over, repeat ---

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