Making an Adjustable Height Walnut and Maple Baby Crib

– Hey everyone, my name is Matt. This is my son J.R., and
this is my wife Lindsay. She's here making sure
that J.R. stays happy for this part of the video. (laughing) Welcome to his nursery. In this video I'm going to show you how I made this walnut and maple crib. So the frame parts are
all made from walnut, and the spindles are made from maple. The frame rises from
the front to the back, so the side is inclined, and the spindles themselves are tapered from the center out to their ends. The crib can also disassemble because the front and the back rails are pinned to the legs with brass rods. And the height of the
mattress can be lowered as the baby gets older. So let's get started. So I just laid out the rails and these two boards are bookmatched.

So they were sequentially
cut from the same log. And they are cut, you can see the pith here, this is a bit of a pith in walnut. It's got this spongy pith in it. So that's the center of the tree. So that means that to the
left and right of the pith in this orientation of the cut, this is gonna be mostly all quarter-sawn and maybe a little bit of rift-sawn. So this is gonna be some nice, really straight grain for my rails, which is exactly what I'm looking for. I want those to be a nice,
straight, even grain. So I was able to lay these out and get the lower and the upper
rails for the entire thing. The entire crib, all the way around. Up here, the pith is actually off-center in this direction here. So I have my wider, lower
rails on this side of the line.

And my narrower upper rails on this side. And then down here, the
pith kind of flips around. So the wider section is over here and that becomes my lower. And then the upper is narrower over there. I'll start the milling process
by ripping the rail stock out of the boards. I label the end of each pair so I can keep them together as a pair. I also removed the inch or
so of waste from each board to get them closer to their final width. For the leg stock, you might remember this slab of walnut that I
used to make the bassinet. I ended up with a perfectly-sized off-cut to get the stock for both the legs. By having the legs come
out of one block like this, I was able to have bookmatched leg stock.

It's a subtle detail, but just like the rails, I
like subtleties. (laughs) I left the roughly-ripped
stock for a few days to de-stress before milling
them flat into thickness. The boards for the rails
ended up being very stable. After sitting around for about a week after their initial
milling, they hadn't moved. So instead of milling them down thinner, I left them at their current thickness of around 7/8 of an inch thick. The legs needed a little bit of work, and those ended up at 1 3/4 inches thick. I ripped all the lower
rails to 5 1/2 inches wide, and the upper rails at 3 1/2 inches wide. I also ripped the legs
at 3 1/2 inches wide. The front legs are cut to 36 inches long and the rear legs are
cut to 42 inches long. I'm going to start with
the side assembly joinery. So I cut the lower side rails to length. The upper rails are angled,
so I'll cut them to length as I work through the joinery.

I made the shoulder cuts for the tenons on the ends of the lower rails. And then to help me set up
to figure out the upper rail, I removed some material
from the tenon area to create a rabbet. That rabbet allows me to set the lower rail between the legs, which gives me the actual distance that the legs will be apart. Now I can set the upper
rail exactly into position and copy the exact angle that the upper rail's shoulder
will need to be cut to. I cut that angle on one end, and then I can start to
lay out the angled tenon. I come over one inch from the end, and using my bevel gauge,
strike the shoulder line. Then I'll carry the line
across the edges with a square, and switching back to the bevel gauge to complete this shoulder
line on the other face.

Before I start cutting the tenons, I cut the mortises in the legs. These mortises are a half inch wide. To start forming my tenons, I use an off-cut from the rails to set the height of the dado stack. I shoot for something
that's just a little tight, so I can finesse it later. For the upper rails, I
swing the miter gauge to roughly the correct
angle, and make the cuts, staying a little away from
my scribe shoulder line, which I then chop back to at
the bench with my chisels. Now, to get the perfect
shoulder-to-shoulder length, I place the upper rail between the legs, again referencing off
one completed shoulder. I'll cut this one to length, and lay out and cut the tenon the same way as I did on
the other end of this rail. I then finish fitting the
tenons to the mortises in the side assemblies. Before moving on to the long rails, I fill a few defects
with some epoxy and tint.

I cut the tenons slightly
oversize with the dado stack. A couple of clean-up passes
with the shoulder plane makes them fit perfectly to the mortise. Next, I'll do a little clean-up work at the base of the shoulder, and then cut the tenon to length. The last detail on the frame is to add a taper to
the bottom of the legs. These don't have to be
perfectly identical, so I just follow the line at the band saw and clean them up with a hand plane.

Now onto the spindles. I grabbed these maple boards and laid out the two different lengths that I'm going to need. I rough-cut them to
length, jointed them flat, and planed them to thickness. I ended up at a finished
thickness of 15/16 of an inch. Next, I go through and rip all the boards into square stock for the spindles. The finished crib is going
to require 50 spindles, and I made about 56 spindle
blanks just in case.

To create consistently tapered spindles, I'm going to use a router
and a jig on my lathe. The jig is really simple to make. I wanted the spindles to go from a full thickness
of 15/16 in the middle to a half inch, 11 inches from the middle for the shorter spindles. So for a total length of 22 inches. So laying out the curve
on this piece of OSB, the curve would be zero relative
to the edge in the middle, and drop down 7/32 of an inch 11 inches out from the center line.

7/32 of an inch is half the difference between 15/16 and one half of an inch. And it's half because I'm dealing with the radius of the spindle instead of its diameter on this jig. Once I have those three points laid out, I can draw a curve. I just bent a piece of brass rod and had my wife trace the curve for me, and we carried this
curve past the end marks. I can then cut the
curve out at the bandsaw and sand back to the line. I can then make a copy, which would become the back of the jig. Nothing fancy with the assembly, I just screwed some connecting pieces that were roughly the
width of the lathe bed, to the front and back to create a box.

I then made a notch on both ends so the drive center and tail
center can go into the jig. And lastly, I screwed on some
strips of plywood to the top to act as a platform for my router. I used a guide bearing in my router, so I spaced these strips
apart accordingly. Here you can see the other
jig I made out of melamine for the longer spindles. Now I can plop the jig on the lathe and clamp it to the waist. Now, creating the spindles
was pretty mindless. I just had to run the
router back and forth.

The hardest part about this was finding a good lathe speed, cut depth, and feed speed that would produce the smoothest cut without the router bit catching or tearing a chunk out of the spindle. I found that running
the lathe at 1400 RPM, taking shallow passes, while moving the router slowly
towards the ends worked best, until the last spindle that I accidentally ran
the lathe in reverse, which dramatically
improved the cut quality. You can see that I also added some screws sticking out of the top of the jig to stop the router before
it contacts the tail stock. To set the final plunge depth, I use a half inch wrench to
check the spindle's diameter at the point where it will be
intersecting the crib's rail. I'm aiming for it to be a little larger, so when I clean up the spindle next, the diameter ends up at or
slightly above a half inch.

Here's what the spindles
look like after the routing. The router leaves a textured surface and the center isn't completely round yet. I cleaned up the surface and brought the spindle
to its final diameter with 60 grit sandpaper. So after a minute and a half of sanding, here's how the spindle looks. Now I'll start working up the
grits, but before I move on, I spend a moment sanding with the grain. So now onto 80, 120, 150, and lastly, 180. Now back to the rails to lay out and drill the
holes for the spindles.

The side rails are a
little more interesting than the front and back rails, since the upper rail is angled. I used a marking gauge
to grab a center line and used a pair of dividers to divide out the edge of the lower rail so that the space between
each spindle is the same, including the space between
the last spindles and the legs. To transfer the hole
locations to the upper rail, I butt the shoulders of both rails up against a straight edge.

So they are in the same
orientation they would be when attached to the legs,
just closer together. I can then use a square to
transfer the hole locations to the upper rails. And I'll transfer the locations
from the face to the edge. To drill the holes in the upper rail, I use a bevel gauge to transfer the angles to the drill press.

Then I can just go down the
line and drill all the holes. Next, I'll be working on getting the spindles
to the correct length, since they get shorter as they move towards the front of the side assembly. I'll use a caliper to find the point on the spindle that's a half inch, and I'll mark a quarter
inch down from that point. This is where I'll make one of the cuts. Now for the other end.

I made this story stick
to mark the total length of each spindle in the assembly. Now after I cut this end, the spindle diameter is going to be more than a half an inch. So I use my dowel plate
to form a half-inch tenon on that end of the spindle. The front and back assemblies
are far less exciting, because everything there is square. The most interesting part was cutting the spindles to length, which I did with this
double stop block setup. Now I can get ready to
start applying the finish. So I take the assembled
crib apart. (laughing) As I'm removing the
spindles, I number them, so I can put them back in the same order. The order on the front and
back really shouldn't matter, but (laughing) who knows. Next I'll lay out for the holes that will receive the brass rod which will pin the tenons and allow me to disassemble
the crib for storage.

And I just drilled these
all the way through with a 3/8 inch Forstner bit. Then I can do a final sanding
on all the frame parts and break all the edges and corners. For the finish on the frame, I'm using salad bowl finish. Putting the tenons up on blocks allows me to easily apply
finish to all sides. And then I can do the legs. I've put on three coats of finish, sanding between the coats
with 600 grit sandpaper. For the spindles, I'm using a water-based
poly in a spray can. I went with a water-based finish for these to keep the maple as white as possible. Unfortunately, this finish
ended up yellowing quite a bit despite looking all
right on my sample piece. These spindles were easy to spray by using some blocks of wood with holes drilled in
them to hold the spindles. I applied two coats of
finish to the spindles, sanding between each coat
with 600 grit sandpaper. The mattress frame is
going to primarily consist of two beams that will span
the inside of the legs. I made these from a piece of 6/4 walnut. I jointed and planed them, and left them as thick as possible.

And before moving on, I
wanted to test their strength. Looks like each beam can support my body at the center of their span, so a pair of them will be plenty to hold whatever parent
wants to be hanging out in the crib with their child. (laughing) The pins that will allow
the crib to be disassembled are going to be made from
a 3/4 inch brass rod. I made a simple jig to hold the rod while it's being cut at the bandsaw. This is just a hole drilled in the off-cut from tapering the legs. And that gives me a reference for the thickness of the legs. And I have the fence set so the rod is just part of the surface.

I'll clean up the saw marks and polish the pins with a buffing wheel. I'm starting the buffing
with a cutting compound, now I'll remove the saw marks and also run over the edges so that it'll go into the holes easier, and it will also hide the fact that they are not flush with
the surface of the legs. To further polish the surface, I switch to a polishing compound and go over the ends again. Next, I'll glue up the side assemblies. All these assemblies were a little goofy to try and get together, because of trying to get all these spindles
and holes lined up. To get clamping pressure
across the angled rail, I used a pair of angled blocks. Normally I temporarily glue these on, but since I pre-finished the
legs, that wasn't an option. So they just kind of slid
around as I applied pressure. So a clamp from the top
to bottom of the front leg kept that wedge from sliding up and down, and blocks of wood against the lower clamp keeps the other wedge from sliding down.

Now I can start putting the front and back assemblies together, and bring them into the house
for their final assembly. These could be a little
tricky to get together. I found that working from
one side to the other, with the help of a clamp, was the easiest way to go. Next I can work on installing the pins. I clamped across the rails, so the shoulders should
be as tight as possible, and drilled the 3/8 inch
hole through the tenons, and then I could tap the pins into place. Next, I'll install the
mattress support rails.

I used a spacer, referencing
off of the bottom of the leg so the rails would be level. I transferred the hole
location with a Forstner bit since it has a center point and I couldn't find my 3/8
inch Brad point bit. (laughing) I'm going to be tapping these holes for a 3/8 inch socket cap screw. So I drill the hole with
the appropriate sized hole for the tap I'm going to use. And I use a block of wood to help me keep the bit
square as I'm drilling. Next, I'll run the tap down the hole. Tapping wood is really easy with a drill. I just run the drill really slowly. To help strengthen the threads a bit, I dropped some CA glue
down the sides of the hole. And the same process
with the upper position.

I just did two positions for
the mattress height for now. I figure if we need an
intermediate height, I can always add some
more holes in the future. After I got these bolted on, I gave them another strength test. The final thing I did was cut and install some boards that would span the rails
to support the mattress. Pretty strong. (grunting) So I'm really happy with
the way this turned out. And I'm really happy with
the subtleties in the wood.

I know it's something that
most people won't notice, but I know it's there, so
of course I like that part. So this project actually
took me a lot longer than I had anticipated it would take me. And that was really just those spindles. The frame went together really quickly, just mortises and tenons, but the spindles really slowed me down. Just because there are so many of them and it took so much time each.
(J.R. babbling) Oh yeah? (laughing) But I'm happy I'm done with it, and I'm not gonna make a crib ever again, probably, hopefully.

So the reason I pegged the front and back. What's going on?
(Matt and Lindsay laughing) So the reason that I pegged
the front and the back is so that the upper and lower rails as well as the spindles can be taken apart as one unit and converted into a bed
if you really wanted to. That way, all you have to
do is add some new posts or some new legs to the bed and then you won't have to
worry about these big mortises in the top of the legs if you had picked it the other way and wanted to use the whole back assembly and front assembly as a
headboard and footboard.

(J.R. babbling) Oh yeah? (laughing) So this is the last project
for my nursery series. I previously did a video on
making his changing table, which was just a small dresser, I also made his rocking bassinet. Where you going? (laughing) If you haven't seen those already, I'll leave links to those
in the description as well. So thank you as always for watching, I greatly appreciate it, and so does he. If you have any questions or comments about anything I showed
today with the build or anything back down in my shop, please feel free to leave me a comment. As always, I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. And till next time, happy woodworking..

As found on YouTube

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