Mark’s Sleigh Crib
By Mark Stubblefield from Atlanta, GA
Added on October 29, 2014
This was my very first ‘real’ furniture project. I have dabbled in pens on the lathe and small projects (shelves, knickknacks, etc), but never anything of this scale. I started the project when my wife was about 3 months pregnant, figuring I’d get done easily before my little girl was born. Well, I was wrong. Not only did I vastly underestimate the amount of time it takes to do all the mortise and tenon joinery, as well as the finishing, but my little girl showed up a whole month early, which delayed the final project until about 6 months after she was born. I’m very happy with the completed project, and now I have a very strong understanding of the time and dedication it takes to hand make furniture.
The entire bed was modeled after some plans I found online. I changed a few things here and there to fit my needs. The entire project was built with only a Jet portable contractor saw and a Grizzly 14″ band saw for the big tools. Lots of hand fitting the tenons, dovetails on the drawers, and sanding. I’ve since acquired a lot more tools, so I can imagine the next go-round will be quicker.
The whole bed is solid African mahogany, and the only places I used something different are the side inset panels and the drawer bottoms. Both are mahogany veneer plywood.
The curved portion of the front and back of the sleigh bed were done by ripping long strips from the same board, mitering their edges, and gluing and screwing them together to get the general shape, minding the grain patterns to keep them matched up. After that, there was a LOT of sanding by hand and a belt sander. Not having a jointer made this process a bit difficult. I pretty much jointed with the table saw. I still have a ‘real’ jointer on my wish list.
The front folds down for easier access for my wife and I, and the bed height is adjustable with a kit I found online. I put little bumpers on the front posts to keep the flip down portion from crashing into the slats and damaging them. The entire bed breaks down very easily with through bolts and captive threaded inserts. It converts into a toddler bed with a replacement front that is just a fence to keep the little lady from rolling out, and can eventually convert into a full size bed by removing the sides (and the front as well if just the headboard is needed).
I put some nice, long, full extension slides on the drawers which are solidly attached as I’m sure I’ll find the little one crawling on them one of these days.
Finish is General Finishes Java gel, with 4 or 5 coats of HVLP applied GF High Performance Poly, sanding between coats. The wood grain shows through a little, which I love, but the wood is very well protected from the little one.
I had a LOT of fun building this project, and once I get some other things done around the house, I plan to make some more furniture in the future with all of the knowledge I’ve gained.