Since we found out we were pregnant (maybe even before), we knew we wanted to build our baby’s crib. Of course
we I had my doubts. Would it be safe enough? What would we finish it with that would be safe for baby? Would it even look good? Psh… c’mon – I knew the answer to that last one.
I started by searching different styles of cribs on Pinterest and even DIY cribs to see if I could get any tips from other DIYers. I came across Back to Domestic’s DIY Cribs and loved the style. This style of crib looked like it could be built using the same general technique we used for our DIY Pottery Barn Farmhouse Bed, which gave me the confidence I needed to move forward.
I showed Kurt the crib style and he began building the crib using Google Sketchup so we could view it 3 dimensionally to scale before we dove in (Thank you LSU Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture for the handy skills!) Here’s what it looked like once he had it drawn up to scale.
I did some further research on crib safety standards to be sure what we built would be safe enough for our little Baby Boehr (pronounced “bear”). BabyCenter.com lays out the crib safety standards (as of 2011) pretty well – you can view those standards here.
We decided to buy our baby mattress before starting to be sure our measurements for the crib would work. After getting our mattress, we headed to the hardware store for wood and supplies.
Supplies needed for our DIYstinctly Made DIY Crib
DIY Crib Building Supplies
- 2 – 4”x4”x8’ pine boards
- 2 – 2”x4”x10’ pine boards
- 1 – 2″x2″x10′ pine board
- 8 – 1”x2”x10’ pine boards
- 7 – 1”x3”x10’ pine boards
- 4 – 1”x6”x10’ pine boards
- Finish nails
- 3” screws
- 3 1½” screws
- 1 ½” screws
- 1 pack of small metal “L” brackets (4 brackets/pack)
- Wood glue
DIY Crib Finish Supplies
- Wood filler
- 220grit Sand paper
- Orbit Sander
- Rustoleum Varathane Stain + Poly (Early American)
- Steel wool
- Minwax Paste Wax
How we built our DIY Crib
This project took a couple of months with our frequent trips to Baton Rouge on the weekend during football season; therefore, I don’t have as many pictures of the process as I would like.
First, we tackled the sides of the crib. We laid out five 1″ x 6″ boards (cut to 36 ½” in length) side by side and attached two 1″ x 3″ boards (26 3/4″ in length) across the top and the bottom using wood glue, finish nails, and clamps (NOTE: the two outer 1″ x 6″ board’s width will need to be ripped in order to get the desired 26 3/4″ total width for the side). Next we flipped it over and attached two more 1″ x 3″ boards (26 3/4″ in length) across the top and the bottom using wood glue, 1 ½” screws, and clamps. We screwed the interior after nailing the exterior boards on so that the screws would help pull the wood together. We used a spade drill bit to create holes for the screws to sit beneath the surface of the wood. The decorative pieces were then attached to the outside using wood glue and finish nails.
Next, we assembled the sides of the crib with vertical slats because we didn’t yet have 4×4 posts for our sides that were completed. We marked where each slat would go on two 1″ x 3″ boards (cut to 53″ in length), making sure that they were all 2 3/8″ apart (based on crib standard requirements, slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart). The gaps between the two outer slats and the crib sides will be less than 2 3/8.” After we attached the slats to the 1″ x 3″ boards using 1 ½” screws and wood glue, I was a little bothered by the fact that the outer slat gaps would be smaller than the rest, but honestly now that its built. it looks great and I don’t even notice it. Next, we attached the bottom 2″ x 4″ boards (cut to 53″ in length) using wood glue, 3″ screws (drilled from the bottom), and our handy dandy clamps. At first we only screwed into the 1″ x 3″ that we previously attached, but after noticing that the 2″ x 4″ need to be more stable we screwed into a few slats as well. After the bottom was secure, we attached the top 1″ x 2″ runner (cut to 53″ in length) using wood glue and finish nails.
Here are all 4 sides at this point. As you can see, I was also refinishing the changing table/dresser, but I’ll save that for another post 😉
Because we couldn’t find non-pressure treated 4x4s ANYWHERE, we were stuck at this point for some time. Luckily, my dad was able to find some non-pressure treated 4x6s in North Georgia. We picked them up when we went home for Thanksgiving. A couple of passes through my Dad’s beast of a table saw and we had ourselves non-pressure treated 4x4s! Once we got back home, Kurt couldn’t wait to finished the sides.
He cut our new 4″ x 4″ posts to be 43″ in length and attached them to the sides using 3 ½” screws and wood glue. He used a spade drill bit before hand to make holes to ensure the 3 ½” screws would reach the sides. If we had longer screws at the time, he would have used those instead… but ain’t nobody got time to run back to the store – so we made do. After the posts were on, He attached the 2″ x 4″ cap (cut to 37 3/4″ in length) using 3″ screws and wood glue. We used this same technique when attaching the posts and caps to our DIY Pottery Barn Farmhouse Bed.
Finally, we built the mattress support according to the dimensions below using wood glue and screws to make it as sturdy as possible.
This support is what can be used to adjust the height of the mattress within the crib. Simply screw the support into the posts from below at the desired height. When the crib mattress needs to be “dropped,” it sits at the base of the crib with no screws necessary (shown in pictures).
Once all 4 sides and the mattress support were done we did a makeshift assembly to see how she looked – AMAZING!
Unfortunately, the crib wouldn’t fit into the nursery, so we had to disassemble it before reassembling once complete.
We filled all holes and wood cracks with sandable/stainable wood filler. After the wood filler dried, we sanded all pieces using 220 grit sand paper which made the wood as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Before we finished the crib, we found out we are having a little boy. We chose an outdoors theme for his room since daddy is an avid fisherman and hunter. To go with the theme, we wanted to stain the wood instead of paint it.
I did some more research trying to find an all-natural solution that wouldn’t harm the baby if he gnawed on the crib. I purchased Dark Raw Tung Oil from the Real Milk Paint Company… BUT, once I tested it on a piece of scrap wood I realized I didn’t like the color AND it would take for-ev-ver to apply. So, I did some more research and found out that commercial finishes are okay to use if they have been properly cured (typically 30 days).
We decided to go with Rustoleum’s Varathane Stain + Poly in Early American to cut back on steps – I am SO glad we went with this product. It was easy to apply, dried quickly, and because it is water based it was very easy to clean up (no harsh chemicals needed!) This product is a one-coat wonder! We applied on the thicker side, rather than doing multiple thin coats, so two coats were not needed.
After we had everything stained/varathaned, we lightly rubbed with steel wool to make everything as smooth as possible. Once perfectly smooth, we applied paste wax and buffed.
Once settled for a few days, we brought the pieces into the nursery and assembled. Kurt used his spade drill bit again to drill pocket holes on the bottom of both sides of each side (with slats) so they could be screwed to the posts using 3 1/2″ screws. On a side note: a Kreg Jig would have come in reaaaal handy to make the pockets holes (this tool has since been added to my wishlist).
Once the bottoms were attached, we used a small “L” metal bracket to screw the underside of top of the sides with slats to the insides of the posts (See the pic below – side with slats on the left, post on the right).
We had a hard time at first trying to figure out the best way to attach the top of the sides with slats to the posts because we knew this crib would have to be disassembled and reassembled in the future as we have more babies. Ultimately, we decided on the brackets. They are very sturdy and and tuck nicely under the rail – we spray painted them black to make them less noticeable.
We are so proud of our DIYstinctly Made crib. Hopefully, it will stay in our family for generations to come (unless crib standards change of course 😉
Here are some photos of the finished crib in the nursery.
UPDATE: We are thrilled SO many people have read and used our post and crib plans to build their very own crib! Our crib is still in use an I have to say the kid LOVES it. And we love that he can’t climb out… yet… BEFORE BUILDING, please review all questions and answers in the comments. We have received several repeat questions that have already been answered. Our crib DOES have gaps between the mattress and the sides however we use a crib bumper which covers the gaps so they have not been an issue. If you would like to build this crib to be used without bumpers, we suggest purchasing your mattress beforehand and making the necessary adjustments for a snug fit.