I hummed and hawed over building this. I had had the idea for months and months, but I was worried it was beyond my capabilities, that I wouldn’t finish on time, was it even safe? After much reading regarding safety standards I was convinced that my design would pass all requirements, and after a successful dresser revamp, I was confident to give it a try.
I have been a huge fan of flat pack furniture made with a CNC machine such as that found at Unto This Last in London, UK (see here for my mini review). While I’d love to make furniture this way, I have no clue on how to run a CNC machine, and I certainly don’t have the $25,000+ needed to buy one (It would also take up my entire workshop!!!). I haven’t let this phase me though, and I often try to make things using the drill press and band saw. I am debating taking a course in CNC programming and seeing if one could rent the use of a machine.
So I decided similar to my modular book shelf I would make it out of baltic birch (my favourite sheet product) and douglas fir (love the grain, and the price). To cut out the designs in the crib face, I had originally planned to use a router and a template. I’d never done this before, and in the end this lack of experience convinced me to try another method. I think the router method would have worked very well, and one day I’ll likely try it out. I’ve always hated jigsaws as I find they can’t cut in a straight line, and when taking corners, the blade bends (or breaks!) and you get a horrible cut. The sheets were far to big to run on the bandsaw, so it seemed like my only solution was hours of frustration with my very cheap jigsaw. I got fed up with the jigsaw after about 2 seconds, and went to the hardware store to see what my other options were. On a hunch, I decided that maybe all jigsaws were not created equal, and after a $200 purchase, I came home with a top of the line jigsaw (by Bosch). Was I ever impressed! This thing could cut as straight and smoothly as my table saw (well practically as good). It cornered like an Alfa Romeo…
Back to the construction. So the pattern was cut out using a forstner bit on the ends, and the jig saw to connect the two circles to form a rectangle with rounded ends. For something different, I did an alternating pattern on the end of the crib. The two sides that would be against the wall I left solid, partially out of time constraints, and partially to cover up an electrical outlet and a dirty wall (yes I tried cleaning it, no it didn’t work, although the paint did start to come off…).
After tons of sanding with a palm sander, orbital sander, and by hand, it was ready for finishing. I went to Windsor plywood to buy all the wood, and they recommended a low VOC water based polyurethane which was important to me as my daughter would be spending much of her early life in this crib. I was also hoping to seal up the plywood as there are some nasty chemicals used in making plywood which do off-gas, but with a good layer of polyurethane, this would not be an issue. The fir was stained with some ebony stain which really brings out the grain nicely. The whole thing is held together with alan key bolts that connect to nuts screwed into the wood.
I’m hoping she’ll use the crib for several years, as there are two height settings for the mattress. Once she is older I plan on removing the back panel and she can have a bed that she is able to climb out of. The caterpillar front piece is actually the right size for a double bed head board (planned of course….I wish), so in theory this could stay with her for many years.
While I would not trade this crib for anything, nor do I regret the great experience I had building it, I am however shocked by the total final cost of this crib:
Baltic birch = 3 sheets at $55/sheet
douglas fir = $50
nuts and bolts = $30
polyurethane + brushes = $20
Which brings the price to $250 for materials alone. This does not include the 2 router bits ($50), jig saw ($200), forstner bit ($20), drill bits ($10), plywood blade for table saw ($50). I figure these items I will use over and over again as I bought fairly good quality items. And finally my time, which I probably spent 40+ hours on this (most were so late at night/early in the morning I can hardly remember…)
So, what does a crib from Ikea cost? $100. How long would it take to assemble? 1 hour. Do I care? Of course not, I have been grinning all day every time I walk past the baby’s room and see the awesome job I did.