DIY Crib |

DIY Crib

DIY, Home

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.

DIY Crib |

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”). 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

DIY Crib |

DIY Crib |

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.

How to build your own DIY Crib |

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.

How to build your own DIY Crib |

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 😉

DIY Crib |

DIY Crib |

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.

How to build your own DIY Crib |

Finally, we built the mattress support according to the dimensions below using wood glue and screws to make it as sturdy as possible.

DIY Crib |

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!

DIY Crib |

DIY Crib |

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.

DIY Crib |

DIY Crib |

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).

DIY Crib |

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.

DIY Crib |

DIY Crib |

DIY Crib |

DIY Crib |

DIY Crib |

DIY Crib |

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.

Check out the completed nursery in our Nursery Reveal post!


226 thoughts on “DIY Crib

  1. Why is there an overhang on your top cap over the 4×4 post? You state that you used 2x4s for the cap, so shouldn’t that be flush to the post? Unless you meant 2x6s.

    Also, how did you account for the corners on your posts? Are they notched so your bed frame sits flush with the inside?

    Love the crib!

    1. Ah, Steve you are correct. Kurt did in fact use 2×6’s for the top caps but he ripped them down to make the overhang less. I have him working on correcting the graphics. We did not notch the corner posts so there is a gap between the mattress and the solid sides, however our bumper pad covers it.

      1. Can you please let me know where you bought the non-pressure treated 4x6s in north georgia. I live 40 mins north west of atlanta so im hoping its not far!

    2. Good catch on the 2x6s. I was also curious regarding if/how the post corners were accounted for…Steve, did you come up with a solution? I like the idea of notching, but only if you don’t plan to adjust the height of the mattress. I think it would look odd if you notched at 2 levels – the upper notches would be visible when you drop the mattress.

      I’m thinking I would either (1) fill the gap at the head and foot by attaching a wider board to the 1x3s on the short sides of the support component (maybe 1×8, depending on the depth of the mattress), so that the top of this board is flush with the top of the mattress; or (2) change/shift the sides so that the inside of the rails/slats are flush with the 4×4 (so that there is no gap to fill).


      Love the crib, as well!

      1. Traci,

        I did come up with a solution… It was to redesign the crib. I took inspiration from this crib, but my design is a bit different. I use slats on three sides and utilize the 1×6 planks as a back. By notching my posts I was able to get everything flush. I made the notches 30″ tall from the bottom up. It’s barely noticeable in my crib.

        I also chose to use mortise bed rail hardware as a way to connect my sides to the front and back instead of “L” brackets. I wanted to be able to take it apart and reuse it… Unfortunately “L” brackets will eventually strip out if the screws are removed too many times.

        Here’s a picture of what mine looks like. It’s not complete yet, this is all the pieces propped up to get a picture for my wife.

    1. The mattress support can be screwed in the posts at different heights. We only had it screwed in at one location closer to the top when he was younger. Once he started to sit up, we lowered the crib mattress and support all the way to the bottom where it sits on the sides and does not need to be screwed in.

  2. Thanks for the plans. I followed the directions but when I put the side rails onto the posts, the gap was 30.5 inches. With the frame support only being 27.5, it will barely sit on the rails. I’m thinking I may need to now shorten the solid sides. It looks like approxametly 2.5 inches. That’s going to be a real pain in the butt. I think that because of this. ( 26.75+(2 x3.5))=32.75.. Yours looked tight in the crib if I’m not mistaken.

  3. I changed the back since I knew it would be up against a wall. I’d make a couple more changes if doing it again, but I’m very happy with how it turned out! Thanks so much for these plans – I had a great time building it!

  4. While I was out of town this weekend my wonderful husband surprised me and built your beautiful crib for me! The only thing he seemed concerned about was the mattress base that’s movable. It seems that when I measured the inside of the rails width wise, it’s 30″ wide and measuring from the insides of the 4×4 it’s 53″ long. Not including the original gap. Most mattress are just a little smaller then those dimensions. What can I do for the gaps?

    1. We have a bumper in our crib which covers the gaps. Bumpers are considered a safety hazard now and are not recommended, though so only use at your own discretion. They also make breathable bumpers which we used for awhile, too

  5. Great plans! I’ve been studying the plans and have decided to start building.

    Quick question: Is there a reason you rip one of the 1×6 boards to get 26 3/4″? If the mattress support is 27 1/2, couldn’t you just leave the five 1×6″ boards standard size to give you 27 1/2″? I’m sure there’s a reason you did it, but with the screenshots provided I”m having trouble seeing inside the crib to see how it fits together. I’ll see the logic once I start building, but figured I’d ask before doing something I’d have to go back and correct.

    Also, this may not be possible – but could you upload the actual SketchUp file – or email it to me? This would really help being able to move the pieces around and see what’s going on at the connection points.

    Thanks for these fantastic plans!

    1. Because the slatted sides are centered in the posts, we ripped a 1×6 to compensate for that extra space. This way the gap between the mattress and the slatted sides was less. If you were to leave the 5 1x6s, you would need to position the slatted sides flush with the inside of the posts to minimize gaps.

  6. What kind of pine did you use? I went to home depot and they have regular and then premium pine which is more expensive but very little sanding needed. But a 1x6x8 is like $19 each.

  7. My husband is building this crib at the moment and is starting to use wood filler. I have concerns with using, did you find any information on the safety use of wood filler?

  8. Hi,

    First of all the crib looks amazing!!!. i wanted to pick you brain on a couple of things if that is OK.
    How man man hours would you say you spent on putting the crib together?
    and what was the longest process?

    i just want to plan and leave enough time to build our own.


    1. Thank you! We built the crib over a year ago and we were put on hold for the posts so the project took us a couple of months to complete. I’d say we spent roughly 60 hours all together. The sanding took the longest because we did it after we had everything assembled. Next time, we will definitely sand FIRST.

  9. My family is looking into doing this crib, but have a concern about the open screw holes once the mattress is dropped, will the baby be able to stick their finger in the holes? Is this a safety concern at all?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. I went and checked the crib to look for them and I couldn’t find them! I think they are hidden behind the bumper. There have been other suggested solutions in the comments using threads as an alternative… You may want to look into that!

  10. The 4x4s, did you use treated pine? We’re struggling to find them untreated and we’re just curious. Thank you!

    1. No, we did not use treated because of the chemicals added! We had a hard time finding untreated 4x4s as well… We found untreated 4x6s from a lumber mill in northern GA and stripped them down. I would try local lumber yards or mills in your area.

    1. For the highest and first location, we placed the mattress support low enough so the bumper pads would fit perfectly between the mattress and top of the crib. It stayed like that for about 6 months. Once he started to sit up and crawl we dropped it to the bottom.

  11. It took me 4 months of off and on working, lots of mistakes (I’m not much of a carpenter) but finally finished it. I had the same issue of finding untreated 4x4s until I found a small local sawmill, they had untreated Fraser fir/redwood. I wanted all the wood to match so it got expensive pretty fast getting all that premium lumber. The finished product looks decent, but more importantly my son (our first!) is 3.5 months old now and has refused to sleep in anything except the bed with us. Last night we laid him in the crib for the first time and he slept like a log. Today he’s been napping in it and it’s been amazing!! Wish I could post a pic, but thanks for sharing yalls project for the rest of us to be able to follow!

  12. Love the crib!! My husband and I are making it now for our son and are so happy to have something so special for him. Quick question. Did you only use 4 L brackets? If they were placed at the top of each corner, how did the bottom stay secure?

    1. Thank you and congratulations! In regards to your first question, the answer is yes. We used 4 L brackets. One for each corner. The bottoms of the slatted sides are screwed into the posts using pocket holes on the underside.

  13. Just finished and assembled my grandson’s crib. I used your concept, but then just went off on my own 🙂 The ends are almost identical, but no decorative pieces (I doweled the planks together for strength and anti-bowing). For the front and back, I wound up using 2×4 for the top and bottom rails, and did mortise joints for the 1×2 uprights. By using 2×4 for the rails, I was able to put a 1/2 oak dowel in each of them for quick assembly, and a threaded insert to fit a 3/8 x 5 in Phillips head screw (8 dowels, 8 screws). No metal brackets, and it looks slick. The dowels made it very quick to put it together (dowel is only glued into the rail) and have it all in position. Then screws go in to lock it together. I routed a hand rail to go over the top rail just to make it comfy on the hands out of a 2×3.

    I ran a 2×2 the full length of each bottom rail glued and screwed to it. We got a crib spring frame free from a friend, and this sits on the 2×2’s to give a solid base. Since we built them a rocking bassinet when the baby was born, we decided not to make the crib itself adjustable. She kept the baby in the bassinet in her room until this weekend (he is 4 months old tomorrow), and last night was the first night in the crib. We did have to make a cloth filler to go between the mattress and the end panel, but no big deal.

    And me, being me, had to test everything 🙂 I can stand (and jump a little!) on the inner rails (I am about 225lbs), and also with it assembled jumped up and dropped all my weight butt-drop style on one of the side rails with NO flex or movement of the crib. I was really happy with this build, my daughter is in love with it, and my grandson slept… well… like a baby!! The crib breaks down into 4 components plus the mattress and springs.

    Thanks so much for the concept!


  14. Thank you very much for these plans. We are expecting our first and with your plans I was able to make this crib in 6 hours in my driveway with a miter box and table saw. Spent exactly $212 on wood and supplies to do the crib but I also bought select boards where if I bought regular boards and used my table saw more I’m sure I could have done it for around a hundred. Loved the stain you used but we decided to paint it the same as the other furniture I redid for the nursery. Thanks again

  15. This is a beautiful crib. I have a question though about the staining. Did it leave any kind of smell? My dad built a bed frame and we stained it and Im concerned about the chemicals for a newborn since the smell from the stain is strong and it was done a month ago!

    1. I would read the label of the product of stain and sealer you used. It may have more information on the amount of time it takes for that specific product to cure. Our crib does not have an odor.

  16. Hey guys,
    My name is András, from Hungary.
    Actually i just wanted to say a big Thank You for your baby crib plan. I just finished it, and its beutiful.
    I am so proud of it!!!:P
    If i could, i would send a picture.

    After of all…just

    Best wishes,
    András and Dóra

  17. Hi!

    I don’t wanna sound like a broken record here, but your crib looks awesome!! My wife and I are a pregnant with our first (baby boy) and we could be more happy. Ever since we got pregnant we knew we wanted to build our own crib and we’ve fallen in love with this design. After looking at the plans, I only have one problem: The gap between the slats and the mattress concerns me. I’ve read that there shouldn’t be a gap there as the baby can get stuck in there. You mentioned that you used a bumper to fill in the gap, but after doing research I’ve read that bumpers are not okay to use. With that said, I don’t want to use a bumper. Do you have any other suggestions for filling that gap? Is the gap even big enough to worry about? Should I use bigger slats? I would love your feedback, and thanks again for this wonderful design!

  18. When you had the mattress support at the highest location what did the bottom of the crib look like? Was there just a huge gap/space? Was it noticeable or not really?

  19. Great walkthrough/plans. I bought the mattress first and built around it to ensure proper fit. I ended up bringing the rails in flush with the inside of the 4×4’s, and going slightly narrower on the 1×6 crib sides. Also switched the caps to 2×6, just out of personal preference. It took about three half-days to build and 10 hours sanding/finishing over a few weeks. Finished with stain/verathane, then “waxed” with a beeswax/olive oil mix. A friend later told me about a non-toxic tung/vegetable oil finish that was made for butcher blocks – wish I would have gone that route, but oh well. Thanks for posting! 🙂

  20. Great job!! We built ours according to these plans and make a couple tweaks here and there. It turned out beautiful! Instead of only having two heights, we used (4) 2″ L brackets under the mattress. First level is the normal height with the mattress platform sitting on top of the bracket. Second level is we turned the bracket so it will sit lower. Then used the bottom of the side rails for the third level.

  21. What are the dimensions once it’s finished? I’m 5’2″ and just from the looks of the finished crib in the photos, I’d have some tough time. It’s so beautiful and I really do like it but am just worried it’d be too tall for my height.


  22. If you don’t mind me asking what cad software did you use for your project. Also I’m in the process of making this at the moment and your plans are very easy to follow thanks for the great write up!

  23. What software did you use to create the build? Also I’m in the process of building right now and your walk through was perfect haven’t had any issues! Thank you for making your plans so easy to follow.

    1. No. We are planning to build an additional side to start the process of converting him to a big boy bed. He hasn’t been able to climb out yet so we’re putting that off as long as possible!

  24. What brand of mattress do you have? We just made one for my sister and the mattress is to small! Like a big gap to small. We have made one for ourselves and our mattress has a little gap but not something we are concerned about. But we have a breathable mattress and that is not something they can afford right now so they need a regular mattress. Yours looks like it fits perfectly!

    1. We have the Serta posture doc mattress from SAMs Club – there is about an inch gap on either side between the box springs and the side rail but it’s not noticeable with the bedding

      1. Hi! Can you tell me the dimensions of the mattress you purchased? Would you recommend buying one of the same size? Thanks!

      2. 52.5 x 27.5 x 5.5 inches – I’m not sure that crib mattress dimensions vary too much so finding a larger mattress may be difficult. I would recommend purchasing your mattress beforehand and making adjustments as needed.

  25. could you please send me the plans for the crib . I may give it a shot for my grandchild who is still in the oven. Thanks

  26. Thanks for your post! It was the starting place for my granddaughter’s crib. I’m so disappointed with the lack of good plans out there. If you want to sew a dress, there’s a million, but try to build a crib… thanks again, your blog is great!

  27. I’m sorry to keep bringing up the mattress question… but I built this EXACT to your specification, and there is a massive gap, about 4 inches, between the mattress and the ends. I assume your “standard mattress” is 27″x52″? A 55″ would fit but I’m having a heck of a time finding one.

    Also, you mentioned in the comments you could adjust the height of the crib by screwing it into the 4×4… I assume you mean screw the mattress support into the 4×4? There’s no where for mine to screw into. There’s the support has about a quarter inch available to screw into the 4×4.

    And last question (I’m sorry!) could you tell me how many screws are holding the sides onto the 4x4s from underneath? I could only fit 1 per side and I’m nervous this isn’t enough.

  28. Am I right in thinking the mattress support dimensions should be the exact same dimensions as your mattress? Do the mattress support run flush to the side slats?

    1. Our mattress support is flush with the slatted sides. Adjustments will need to be made to have your mattress perfectly snug within the crib. We do have gaps between the mattress and the sides but it is not an issue with our bumpers.

  29. Thanks for sharing this! Lovely crib and a beautiful nursery.

    Before starting I want to make sure I’m doing my math correctly and that my mattress will fit. What were the dimensions of your mattress?

  30. My family and I are excited to get started on this crib. You have laid it out very well. Thank you for sharing it 🙂 I will let you all know how it comes out.

  31. What a great, beautiful crib! Thank you so much for sharing… I’m planning on making one for my first grandchild and was wondering if you’d be willing to share/email me the SketchUp file for this crib. I’m looking forward to getting started on this!

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