Building a Family Heirloom
Some years back I made some cribs for my church to replace the old WWII cast Iron cribs that were being used. So with the help of donations from some church members to help cover the cost of oak needed build them, I began. The design phase was more of an ongoing thing. Since I had never built a crib, I needed to get information from nursery workers, crib designs being used and child safety. However the project took almost 18 months, many man-hours and almost all my spare time. The eight Cribs are now in use and seem to be holding up very well for the past twelve years.
Recently, my daughter and her husband informed us a new baby would be arriving soon. She honored me by asking if I would build her one, similar to the ones I had built for the church. I agreed and went about drawing the new set of plans. As I’m sure you can imagine, I wanted it to be special and different than the others. I decided on making one with drawers, and higher sides to prevent the child from climbing out as it grew older. She requested that it could be disassembled for ease of moving and storage, and to be dark colored (espresso) to match the furniture they had selected for the nursery. I never showed her the plans until the crib was almost completed.
When designing the crib, mattress size was the first consideration. Crib mattresses are 51 5/8 inches long by 27 ¼ inches long. So I added ½ inch to the length and width to accommodate the mattress and allow for sheets and blanket fitting, yet still make it close enough so a small foot or hand would not slip in-between and hurt the baby. My bedpost were 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ inches and to make it the right height the post needed to be 54 inches high. This made the crib opening waist-high and the top of the mattress 5 inches below that. I wanted the crib rail height to allow a 34 inch crib floor to top rail, so the child as it grew older could not climb out as mentioned earlier.
After I finished the plans, I determined the wood dimensions and cut patterns for the oak plywood. I deermined the number of dowel rods that would be used,facing oak (used to hide the plywood edges.) drawer pulls and brass hardware. I also needed to determine the length iof the drawer slides,. size of ball ends, latches and hindges to order in advance so they would be available when needed.
Once al the materials were acquired, I began cutting the plywood panels to start constructing the walls. The inside-crib walls had to attach to the post so the wall dimensions had to match the overall crib mattress size. If the mattress length was to be 52¼ inches the back and front panels had to be cut 1½” shorter to allow for the ¾ x 1½ face-oak that butted up to the post. That made the front and rear panels 50½ inches long and with a mattress thickness of 6¼ inches. The bottom of the side walls needed a wider board to support the ¾ inch oak Plywood bed-board. It was also necessary to figure in the face-oak for the top of the mattress panel that would eventually support the dowel rail (in the rear) and front door hinge.
Building the crib required almost 30 hrs to compete but when looking at the finished product, I believe it was worth the effort and should last for many children and years to come.
As they say on many Do-it-yourself programs “Should you wish to build this Heritage Crib, measured drawings are available with vague instructions. Please provide funds to cover the drawings and shipping cost for an undetermined shipping time. Money Orders, Pay-pal, and cashier’s checks are accepted”.