Baby Crib - to build or buy?

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My wife and I are expecting our first baby and I am considering building the crib. Anyone have any experience with this type of project? Specifically, has anyone built one like this and know about how many board feet of lumber I would need? I'm just wanting to get a rough estimate in order to do an analysis of the cost of building vs. buying. Thanks in advance for any help and advice!

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How much time do you have to get it built? How good are your woodworking skills? Do you trust your woodworking skills to put your baby in?

Jeff Miller has a book on children's furniture that I am pretty sure has plans.

Domer

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We have a 5 month old and I had also toyed with building a crib. Here's what deterred me. Start looking at crib reports, and recalls and consumer reviews of cribs on-line. Crap, it will scare the hell out of you. My fear was that companies who make cribs have had to constantly up-date there designs for safety reasons. Who knows how old the plans you have are? Plus who knows if anyone has had problems with those plans. The other thing is finishing the crib. Go to a Baby's-R-Us and start looking at the crib finishes. There are some you can easily scratch off with your finger nail. Do you want your baby eating that finish? Because babies put everything, including their cribs, in their mouths. (OK, not the ENTIRE crib, but you get the idea.)

I decided to find a crib with strong reviews and reports on it. One where when I tried to scratch off the finish I was unable to do so, and I purchased my crib. I figured my son will need tons of furniture over the course of his life. My wife needed my help with so many other things getting ready for our son, that it made the most sense to buy the crib.

I don't want to discourage you if you have your heart set on it. But this was the right decision for me. By the way, if you do build it, please post photos.

Good luck and congratulations.

Chet

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jneel...Slats and baby's scare the hell out of me. That's why I settled on http://www.flickr.com/photos/30350434@N07/5193714213/ for a cradle I recently built for a very good friend and his wife. I would tend to want to go solid. If the cradles slats are too wide, arms could go through and get hurt, too thin, and finger can get hurt..you get the picture. Of course, I was in a dresser drawer for my first several months in this world.

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We have a 5 month old and I had also toyed with building a crib. Here's what deterred me. Start looking at crib reports, and recalls and consumer reviews of cribs on-line. Crap, it will scare the hell out of you. My fear was that companies who make cribs have had to constantly up-date there designs for safety reasons. Who knows how old the plans you have are? Plus who knows if anyone has had problems with those plans. The other thing is finishing the crib. Go to a Baby's-R-Us and start looking at the crib finishes. There are some you can easily scratch off with your finger nail. Do you want your baby eating that finish? Because babies put everything, including their cribs, in their mouths. (OK, not the ENTIRE crib, but you get the idea.)

I decided to find a crib with strong reviews and reports on it. One where when I tried to scratch off the finish I was unable to do so, and I purchased my crib. I figured my son will need tons of furniture over the course of his life. My wife needed my help with so many other things getting ready for our son, that it made the most sense to buy the crib.

I don't want to discourage you if you have your heart set on it. But this was the right decision for me. By the way, if you do build it, please post photos.

Good luck and congratulations.

Chet

I was in the same boat. Our first baby is due in February. I had the same fears about all the things that could go wrong with a crib. We ended up buying one that had good reviews/looked nice and I'm building everything else in the room. :) I'm working on a dresser/changing table tonight actually.

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It's amazing how any of us even survived this long with everything that can go wrong!

A handmade crib would be a fantastic piece to have and to pass on. A quality retail crib is also a wise investment. We bought a retail crib set 7 kids ago(13 years) and It has been a great tool and should have many more years of service. I wasn't "into" woodworking when we had our fisrt child. Had I been, I may have considered building one. I have built beds and bunkbeds for my kids now. It actually would have been less expensive to buy them rather than build them. But now there is some history to the beds that they have. My hope is that their children and beyond will be sleeping in them when I am looooong gone.

It seems to me that you want to build the crib and I think that you if you do, you will be very satisfied for years to come. A price can't be put on a labor of love.

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Unless you really know what you are doing, i wouldnt do it. like most everyone else on here, i think it is way too much of a, for lack of better words, liability. my son just turned 1, and befor he was born i had the same idea. my mother-in-law, who works in the social services department that specializes in child abuse cases, warned me about the strict guidelines as far as spacing of the slats and heights that are enforced by our Govt. it is your call, but might go with a bookshelf or toy box if you want to build your child a gift.

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One more thing to consider.

I'm not sure you will have this problem, but I can tell you when my wife was pregnant her sense of smell became similar to that of a Kodiac Bear. Honestly, she could smell a gnat fart from a mile away against the wind.

The problem with that heightened sense of smell is the sickness that sometimes comes with it. All kinds of smells made my wife want to vomit. Especially during the second tri-mester. So my advice here is to be careful with any project you build, especially if you shop is attached to the house. You may be innocently putting on a little water based poly and she may be tossing her lunch all over the bathroom floor.

I'm pretty sure this phenomenon affects every woman differently, but you may want to be careful with any smells you create in or near the house.

Remember, free advice is worth twice what you paid for it.

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jneel...Slats and baby's scare the hell out of me. That's why I settled on http://www.flickr.com/photos/30350434@N07/5193714213/ for a cradle I recently built for a very good friend and his wife. I would tend to want to go solid. If the cradles slats are too wide, arms could go through and get hurt, too thin, and finger can get hurt..you get the picture. Of course, I was in a dresser drawer for my first several months in this world.

One thing to remember, Cradles can have solid sides. But you will want to check the regulations that govern cribs. I don't think solid sides are allowed. I'm no expert, I'm just suggesting you look into it.

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Thanks for all the advice everyone. I am definitely confident enough in my skills to build this and have about 8 months to do so, but also know that there are many things to consider (especially for safety) when doing so.

Vic, that's an awesome looking cradle! You should be proud!

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It's amazing how any of us even survived this long with everything that can go wrong!

A handmade crib would be a fantastic piece to have and to pass on. A quality retail crib is also a wise investment. We bought a retail crib set 7 kids ago(13 years) and It has been a great tool and should have many more years of service. I wasn't "into" woodworking when we had our fisrt child. Had I been, I may have considered building one. I have built beds and bunkbeds for my kids now. It actually would have been less expensive to buy them rather than build them. But now there is some history to the beds that they have. My hope is that their children and beyond will be sleeping in them when I am looooong gone.

It seems to me that you want to build the crib and I think that you if you do, you will be very satisfied for years to come. A price can't be put on a labor of love.

I don't have kids... none on the way (pretty sure) so reading this thread I started to think everyone was kinda over thinking it. Dunno. But you are probably right and it is easy for me to sit here and say "what can go wrong?". For now, ignorance is bliss.

Brett got me thinking though. I don't remember my crib. Not one bit of a memory of it. Couldn't pick it out of a line up. I DO remember my childhood bed... very well.

My father built it. I loved it. A few months ago my parents mentioned that they cleaned out the attic. Didn't think anything of it. A few days after that I called them up freaking out over the thought that they might have thrown out my bed. I know one day I will make the 1,000 mile trek to Connecticut JUST to get that bed so that my kid can sleep in it. It means that world to me. Brett... I'm sure your kids will feel the same way too one day.

Instead of building a crib build their beds so that they too can freak out at the thought of it being gone one day.

I almost teared up typing this that bed means so much to me. I can't wait to have one of my kids sleeping in it one day.

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If I do decide to build the crib, it will be one that converts to a full size bed (ie: the front becomes the footboard and the back becomes the headboard).

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First, congratulations on the impending arrival.

Second, it's any wonder that people haven't stopped having kids altogether these days, what with the terrifying morass of guidelines, rules and "recommendations" that surround every item that potentially ever has any contact with anyone under the age of twenty-six. We have a two-year old and the level of warnings and disclaimers on everything is utterly out of control. Every now and then, just look in a mirror and remind yourself that you survived your own childhood; despite the fact that your parents would likely be thrown in jail were you to enjoy that same childhood today.

The design reqs for slat spacing aren't (or, at least, weren't when I did my research) that complicated: Ballpark figures, if a Coke can can pass through an opening, then a kid's limb can get stuck. Make all the openings narrower than a Coke can and you're fine.

If I do decide to build the crib, it will be one that converts to a full size bed (ie: the front becomes the footboard and the back becomes the headboard).

More than the safety questions, this is why I'd shy away from a crib. Heirloom quality furniture from Dad's shop should be something that the child can enjoy for many years. A crib is something that they will outgrow very fast. It will then take up space in your house (unless you have a continuous string of children) for decades until your first grandchild arrives, at which point it may need extensive restoration to put it back into usable condition. Heck, by that time it may even be illegal merely to bring a child home from the hospital... :blink:

A crib that converts to a piece of more lasting usefulness is definitely the way to go. Failing that, shelves, tables or chairs would fit the bill.

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Heck, by that time it may even be illegal merely to bring a child home from the hospital... :blink:

Well, by then it will cost as much as "your next child" to have one and, coincidentally, they'll already have it in their possession :)

That was funny (sad too) thanks!

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Rob and Paul-Marcel, I like you style. Good stuff.

My wife and I discussed it last night and decided to buy one... As others have said, there are many more things I can build later on. Thanks again everyone for the advice!

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My wife and I are expecting our first baby and I am considering building the crib. Anyone have any experience with this type of project? Specifically, has anyone built one like this and know about how many board feet of lumber I would need? I'm just wanting to get a rough estimate in order to do an analysis of the cost of building vs. buying. Thanks in advance for any help and advice!

I built three over the last two years, one for my sister’s first grandchild and the other two for other people. It is a great project especially for your own child I would imagine. I wish that I could have made one for mine. I purchased the plan for FWW and it wasn’t too difficult and I have very limited experience in woodworking. But I do have all the power and hand tools required to complete this as well as other projects. Having the right tools and the knowledge to use them is always helpful but as I demonstrated you don’t have to be a master woodworker to accomplish good looking and well made furniture. And for the amount of wood, well that will depend on your experience. I used about twice or maybe more wood building the first one and less for each successive bed. I used hard maple and a small amount of cherry for each bed, so the board foot cost wasn’t all that much. Hope to see pic in the future.

Miles

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The question you would need to ask yourself is do you trust your woodworking skills enough to put a baby in one of your creations. Not to mention will it be able to stand up to all the wear and tear babys/toddlers put on their beds.

However if you do decide to build one don't forget to:

1)get that clear chew tubing for the top of the rails. (Rockler sales the teething rails)

2)get the correct type of finish since babys chew on the rails and such. (Rockler sales a Toy Makers finish thats non-toxic once cured. Should be good enough for a crib)

3)complete the bed about 2+ months in advance so finish will have time to cure.

Hope this helps :D

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As a father of 4 (14-22yrs), I have a little 'sperience in this arena. My thoughts about it are fairly obvious - please add my dissertation to the rest of the friend's comments:

1-design it so the slats are the right width and spaced correctly, rounding over alllll corners and sanding ultra smooth because after a few months the little hands will touch all parts of the crib and slide across the surfaces as he attempts to pull up and stand.

2-casters are good in case mom needs to rearrange due to light, AC vents, etc.

3-I echo what many have said---finish is a vital consideration because at the first sign of teething, he (or she) will put his mouth on sooooo many parts of that crib. Yup, the vinyl guard/strip over the top rail is good because it will get the brunt of the gnawing, but even when the baby is laying down, his mouth is active and anything is fair game. After 4 kids, our crib looks like it was attacked by piranhas.

4-the mattress will need to start high and be able to be lowered as he grows and starts to pull up to keep him from doing a Peter Pan over the top rail (Timothy 1989) - more design considerations - not complicated but now, the cribs are designed to convert into baby beds, sectional sofas, and Corvettes.....more thinking if you want this.

5-in my case, our crib has been used for all four kids; so yours definitely needs some ability to be taken apart to be stored & reassembled when/if the wife gets that far away look in her eyes again...and again...and again and...STOP THE MADNESS! That's a big design consideration because it's one thing to have a crib that's glued and screwed allllll together SOLID vs having the option to disassemble but still have it rock solid again after reassembly. Fast forward the tape....little jnee is 5months old+-, and it's early morning. You sneak to the doorway of the nursery just to see him standing up holding that top rail, bouncing and jumping around like John Cena in the wrestling ring. It is at that point you will realize 'I shoulda beefed up those joints a little'.

6-if you build this, no doubt, it will be an heirloom and valuable to the children's children. Remember the episode of Nash Bridges where Joe Dominguez' baby bassinet was mistakenly sold? It HAD to stay in the family because so many generations of Dominguez babies had slept in it. To him, it was "lucky"....point, anything like this you build that's so special will be a heirloom to the generations.

7-one last thought...(and you thought it would never get here), you may want to consider building a bassinet instead. Glued, screwed, rock solid, and able to be stored just the way it is. When little shavin' comes home from the hospital, mom often wants the little one to sleep beside her bed or in her room for a couple of months+-....space considerations, crib vs bassinet. Soooome moms are bold enough to do the whole 'put the baby in the nursery at night from the git, and have the baby monitor beside your bed'. NOT MY WIFE... due to space limitations, a bassinet was in our bedroom until she was comfortable aliens weren't going to steal him away, and then he slept in the nursery at night, in a crib. Incidentally, prepare yourself....as usual, the wife was right - the aliens WILL get him....I warned each of my three sons and my daughter when they were twelve, "at midnight on your 13th birthday, aliens will come and get you...they will whisk you to deep outer space and return you to your bed in a nanosecond. During that nanosecond, they will reprogram you with all sorts of things like testosterone, independence, and OPINIONS!!! INSTANTLY, you will have wisdom beyond your years & become an expert in everything. My own personal IQ will suddenly be at an all time low in your eyes and you'll marvel at my ability to come in from the rain. It will take me about 10 years to sand out all of the alien stain that soaked into the little pours of your heart and mind". So now...when one of my kids gets 'sassy', I point to them and say...'be careful, alien residue'! Whatever you decide to build, I know it will be done right and it will be priceless. Cherish each moment, the good and the bad. Remember, your boss will not care that you missed the birthday or ball game, but your child will...enjoy the ride - it's all in preparation because... one day,.........THE ALIENS ARE COMING!!

:) CONGRATS!

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I don’t agree with the responses in regards to the crib you build is going to be less safe than one you can buy. I helped a friend build a “side” sleeper which is a small crib and there was nothing to it. Also, the majority of the cribs you buy are still needed to be assembled by YOU, furthermore if you don’t assemble it yourself than its just going to be some department store kid butting it together, how safe is that?

OK with all that said I still would suggest you BUY. My wife and I had the same conversation 7 years ago and we decided to buy. There is so much more going on with your first, painting rooms, building furniture, classes, hospital visits, shower stuff, and on and on that building anything becomes another point of failure between you and the wife (even with 8 months). I know wood workers don’t typically live by this mentality but the cost of cribs are so reasonably priced (given all the other variables) you can hardly build one for what they are selling them for.

Now even with that said the crib is something kids grow out of relatively quickly and that is why I would just buy. As your kids get older the crib and the nursery are some of the first things to change or be sold. We didn’t know it at the time but the compromise was I would make the kids beds when they got older (as everyone else has said). I built my oldest son a loft and I just built and gave my youngest his “big boy” bed for Christmas this year and everyone had a ball with it. I’ll post some pictures...

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First off, congrats. My wife had our first two last October. Since they arrived my shop has been gathering dust, not generating it.

I'm with Solid Oak on this. I don't think that there is any real reason to doubt your ability to make a safe crib if you are considering making one in the first place. I'll admit, I didn't even consider cribs since I would have had to build two of them. To me, the biggest reason not too build them is your time.

You will have tons to do over the next X months before the baby arrives and while it would be great to have a home-built heirloom that could be passed down to grandkids, your honey-do list is going to grow and your time is going to be more precious than you would imagine. I would say buy the crib and focus on all of the other stuff that needs to get done.

If you find you have extra time, work on some other projects that don't have the same tight schedule or fine finishing requirements. Build a shed or some shelving/storage cabinets, diapers and formula take up more room than you would think possible. Even better, spend some time just you and your wife because that time evaporates when the baby arrives.

Congrats again.

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I'm currently in the process of building our first child's crib. I can assure you...its not cheaper by any means. Given the equipment I've purchased, materials, and random trips to Woodcraft, this bed will run me at least $3000. Aside from the equipment I may have $500 in wood and materials. But, it is unlike any other crib I've ever seen, and hopefully when he's 26 or so he'll recognize the effort that went into it. There are websites out there that give you all the dimensions you need to know to stay in line with government restrictions. A friend of mine built one for his first child from walnut with a poly finish, and it turned out great. His biggest flaw was that the whole thing was glue and doweled together. Its not coming apart. Ever. Mine will break down all 4 sides so it will store easy....but its going to be really heavy.

Its not going to be done by the time he gets here. My wife is due thursday, and I've got a couple more weeks before its done. Luckily he won't be in the crib for a bit.

It all came down to really wanting to make something that will last several generations until they require all babies stay in a vented plastic bubble until they are 18.

Congrats man.

Oh. One more thing. I second the comment about a woman's sense of smell while pregnant. I swear I could have used her to track wounded deer back in July. It was nuts.

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My wife and I are expecting our first baby and I am considering building the crib. Anyone have any experience with this type of project? Specifically, has anyone built one like this and know about how many board feet of lumber I would need? I'm just wanting to get a rough estimate in order to do an analysis of the cost of building vs. buying. Thanks in advance for any help and advice!

I recently completed this one for my best friend and his wife. It took me about 2 1/2 months, but was a great learning experience and the Mom loves it.

post-8-0-36393000-1295984923_thumb.jpg

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Congratulations!

We just found out our daughter is going to have a child later this summer (our first grandchild), so I am in a similar sinking boat, but with Vic's offer of assistance, I think I will "copy" the crib he built.

Thanks again for all your help so far, Vic!

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No problem. I'll try to catch up on my blog this weekend, so you have more information. Also, feel free to PM me or call anytime.

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Congratulations!

We just found out our daughter is going to have a child later this summer (our first grandchild), so I am in a similar sinking boat, but with Vic's offer of assistance, I think I will "copy" the crib he built.

Thanks again for all your help so far, Vic!

If it helps any I went back and put the photos in chronological order for Gretchin's Cradle. You can view them on the slide show at or individually at http://www.flickr.com/photos/30350434@N07/sets/72157625182276454/

I hope that helps. As I said, I'll, hopefully, gets some more in my blog soon and you can always contact me if you have specific questions.

The hardest part of the entire build was fitting the gussets.

I guess it posted the slide show here...so, cool..I guess.

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