Making A Handmade Heirloom Crib

The second thing my husband said to me after I told him I was pregnant—the first being, "Yeah I knew it."—was that he wanted to make the crib.

"Ok," I said, as long as it was up to safety standards. He scoured the internet for blue prints and designs, eventually finding a Land of Nod inspired design (their cribs go for $600-$1200!) at Design Confidential, which has a big collection of (awesome) DIY plans. 

Choosing the Wood

We had hoped to buy nice hardwood, but pricing everything out, and even researching acquiring reclaimed wood, it was looking like we were going to have to use plain old Home Depot pine. But Christmas came with a gift from Grandpa, and we knew right away it would be put to a good cause making our heirloom crib. 

Not the actual cherry tree. :)

Not the actual cherry tree. :)

We finally got some rain in California, so wood storage was strictly indoors.

We finally got some rain in California, so wood storage was strictly indoors.

We chose to use North American Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) because it is a hard, furniture-grade wood that finishes beautifully. Also it's a common, sustainably forested species grown in North America—not imported, or endangered, or sketchily harvested.

Routing mortises and tenons with the General Mortise & Tenon Jig.

Routing mortises and tenons with the General Mortise & Tenon Jig.

A stack of boards with tenons.

A stack of boards with tenons.

Steve made some significant changes to the blueprints, mainly in changing all of the pocket-holes to mortise and tenon joints (fancy). This took some good mathing to figure out exactly how long the pieces need to be cut to allow room for the tenons.


Gluing and Clamping and Sanding, and More Sanding

After all the boards were cut and the mortises and tenons routed out, I did an initial sanding. Then we did some dry fits to make sure that all the joints fit. 

Ready to assemble the crib

We set a drop cloth down in the living room to glue up all of the tines using TiteBond I. I followed behind Steve with a damp cloth to wipe up any drippage.

Gluing up the crib

More intensive sanding to make sure no glue remains and that every corner is smooth. You know, for baby. 

More sanding the crib

Oiled Up and Ready to Assemble

I wish I had taken a side-by-side shot of the natural cherry and oiled cherry, because the transformation is magical. We applied about three heavy coats of boiled linseed oil, reapplying until the wood didn't look "thirsty" any more. 

We used some oiled-bronzed finished screws to avoid the usual stainless steel look.

Aaaaaaaaand DONE!

We didn't originally think we would put together an entire room (nursery) for baby because we plan on having them in a co-sleeper with us for months. However, plans change, and Steve moved his computer out of the back room and into our never-used "dining room." Now the back room is a nursery and office for me, anticipating my upcoming work-from-home time.

The mattress I had originally picked up (for free on Craigslist) turned out to be on the smaller side. Not safe. We ended up going to a bunch of stores—tape measure in hand—to find the largest crib mattress possible. They all say they are the same dimensions, but we found this Sealy "CoolSense" to fit our crib snuggly and safely. Bonus: the mattress says "cool baby" all over it, as if we needed to advertise. The breathable bumper hand-me-down my sister gave us didn't make the photo shoot, but will be added to the crib shortly.

Handmade DIY Cherry Wood Crib

For those who are curious we ended up spending about $400-ish including the wood, the mortise and tenon jig, and hardware. But hey, it's an heirloom right? Plus we'll convert it into a toddler bed as soon as we need to, so we'll get lots of use out of it. 

Fitted alphabet crib sheet by Oh Joy! Outdoor rug from Costplus World Market (similar here). Knit Unicorn by Target's Pillowfort. White cubbies on casters built by Steve in place of Ikea's Kallax (he refused to let me buy it). GIANT stuffed giraffe from Melissa and Doug and gifted by my amazing sister.