baby furniture finished - link to pics and on ABPW

Well, I have finished - sort of - the main pieces of baby furniture that I've been working on. These consist of a crib, cradle and *temporary* changing table. I saw temporary, because I initially intended, and still plan to finish, to build a nice chest of drawers/cabinet style changing table made of solid ash, but I have been having a terrible time getting the panels to stay flat and since SWMBO is due this week, I figured I better whip up a changing table of some sort so that we had something, albeit simple.
Here's a brief description of each piece. And the link to the pictures: http://pages.cthome.net/logmanworld/babystuff.htm
Cradle:
I built this first and it is solid ash. I used the Wood plan for the pendulum cradle. It was very straightforward to build and I'm happy with the construction. It is very solid and stable and swings very nicely. I changed the dimensions from the plan to accomodate a full-size cradle mattress (18"x36", IIRC). I'm sure you've seen dozens of these posted over the years. I believe someone posted one only a few months ago, in fact.
The finish is another story - I really can't stand it. My wife didn't want anything "dark" in the nursery, but she doesn't care for lightly colored wood finishes, so she asked (and you know what that means when it's a pregnant SWMBO) that I do a pickled finish. She further instructed that I "distress" the surface. I used 2 coats of General Finishes "Whitewash" EF water-based stain. I basically flooded the surface, waited approx. 5 minutes and wiped off the excess. I honestly didn't have any idea what "distressed" was supposed to look like, so I moved stain around, and got a little overeager when I sanded, as you can see. But, SWMBO initially said she liked it, so I put 3 coats of General Finishes EF Polyacrylic Blend water-base finish on the surface. This product was a dream to use. It didn't really build up very much, but it really is crystal clear and was extremely easy to apply.
Crib:
This is also built from plans, this time from Woodsmith for the Heirloom Crib. I bought the plans, as well as the hardware kit. This was probably the easiest woodworking project I've every built. There were no glue-ups to deal with, so other than regular milling of the rough ash, stock prep was a piece of cake. The design is extremely easy to build. There was a discussion in the rec a little while ago about cutting a groove for mortises with a dado blade and then using spacer fill blocks to offset slats. That's how this design was built (as was the cradle). It definitely saves time, but I wasn't very happy with the results. For the "majority" of spacers the fit was just right and little to no gap is visible, but for a few, after the glue dried, some small gaps appeared. Probably due to my not using enough glue, clamping pressure, etc. The construction of the crib is very solid, and I like the simple design. The hardware kit was complete, and went together fairly easily, although there is a little resistance when raising and lowering the sides, so I have to wax up the guide rod or something.
The finish was exactly the same as the crib, except this time SWMBO and I decided not to distress the surface. I think the result is much more pleasing. I won't say I actually "like" white stain, but at least the finish looks pretty uniform. This time around I made sure I thoroughly raised the grain with some distilled water before starting the finishing process and sanded with 320 grit before starting with the stain. I paid more attention to getting even coverage with the stain, and I didn't sand at all between coats of stain or the polyacrylic finishes - just a light sanding with 320 grit after the final coat was applied.
Changing Table
This one was copied from a picture in a catalog SWMBO showed me. The construction couldn't be simpler. I think the total for materials used was about $50. The base frame is made of poplar and is held together with mortise and tenon joinery. This was my first chance to use my Jet mortiser (purchased after the crib and cradle were done, darn it) and it was great. It is just a simple frame, all 90 degree joints. The shelves are 1/2" MDF and the top and guard rail are 3/4" MDF. To support the shelves I glued and nailed poplar support strips along the entire lower edge of the corresponding rails. I used my new (I've been on a shopping spree hehe) Senco 23-guage pin nailer. What a joy! The top was attached using pocket hole joinery vertically through the upper rails and glue. I was very happy with how snug this got the top and there were really no gaps anywhere between the top and the rails/posts. I used a multiprofile router bit to decorate the top edge of the table and a cove bit on the underside of the top, to reduce the thickness of the edge. I overhung the top on all sides by 1". Finally, I mitered and glued the guard rail together. No biscuits here, I couldn't find the manual to my porter-cable plate joiner and I didn't want to mess with changing out the blade to do face frame biscuits. I just used a bessey strap clamp and the miters came out just right. I then biscuited into the bottom of the frame and into the top of the table and glued the frame in place. I found out that it is a PITA to try to clamp things in this fashion using cauls. I really needed some large capacity (and many of them) cabinet clamps. I ended up putting a big piece of 3/4" MDF on top and putting a big pile of ash on top of it. It worked pretty good, but I wasn't able to wipe up the squeeze out inside the frame. The finish is a coat of latex primer and only one coat of Benjamin Moore Ivory (?), I think. It is the same as the trim in the nursery.
That's it!
Sorry for the long descriptions. I've been working on these things for a few months, so I figured a few words about them would be helpful.
Any feedback is greatly appreciated!
Thanks!
Mike
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Nice job, Mike. Following the group it doesn't seem like that many people use Ash. I use it quite a bit and love it ($1.40/bf doesn't hurt either). Your changing table looks just like the one I built....let me guess....Pottery Barn Kids? SWMBO looks through the sales catalog and folds over the pages where she finds something she wants built. So far, I've built their crib, changing table, quilt rack, big wooden letters to hang on the wall and I'm just about finished painting one of their bookshelves ($299 in the catalog and it cost me $29, the price for a nice piece of 3/4" d3 maple plywood, definitely a bargain). Now...if she would just go into labor!
Greg

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Funny you should mention that. I have my first on that way, due around Thanksgiving, and one of my next (and first) projects will be that exact changing table.
Any hints?
Aaron

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Hi Greg and Aaron,
The changing table was indeed inspired by the Pottery Barn Kids "classic changing table". It's amazing that they charge $250 for this thing. I bet theirs is made of plywood, too.
Aaron: the construction of this item couldn't be more straightforward. If you're planning to paint it like I did, then there's no reason to bother gluing up wood for the shelves and top. Use good plywood or MDF. I chose MDF and it machines great and paints very well. Just remember to use coarse thread screws. I attached the top with pocket hole screws vertically through the top rails. It worked great and was a piece of cake. The rest of the frame is just mortise and tenons. I have a mortising machine and tenoning jig, so this wasn't difficult for me. 24 mortises isn't really all that many, but if you're doing it with hand chisels, it might take awhile. I biscuited the guard rail frame into the top, so if you don't have a biscuit joiner, I guess you could screw up throw the top, just be careful about alignment. I'm sure you won't have any problems. I used poplar from the Borg and didn't even do any milling to it. I just ripped strips off of 1x8 stock for the rails and used 2x2 stock for the posts. All together it took me maybe 6 hours to build the table, and that includes breaks.
Mike
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Hey Greg,
Sounds like you've been even more busy than I have! We're due right now, actually. Yesterday was the nominal due date. I'm getting pretty wigged out hehe. With my luck, he'll be 2 weeks late and we'll have to induce :)
Which bookcase did you build? the Madison one? That looks pretty good, I'm thinking of doing that, too. I think SWMBO wants a chest of drawers first, though. I wish the humidity would go down so my wood would stop cupping.
I agree with you regarding Ash, too. It is really nice to work with, even if the grain isn't particularly interesting. Have you been using wood filler? I think that is something I should've have done - this wood has some pretty deep pores. I did have some powder post beetles in some of the 12/4 ash I got, too, which was pretty frustrating.
Mike
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Greg) wrote in message

Greg,
SWMBO picks my projects from the Pottery Barn catalog too! Nothing as ambitious as yours though. So far I have done a duck stool and a few other odds and ends. They have some cute things for kids, but have you noticed that their quality is pretty crummy for what they charge (we have a Pottery Barn locally which carries some of the kids stuff so I have seen it first hand.) The duck stool was about $40 and it was constructed with butt joints and screws. It didn't seem like it would stand up to much abuse. My version only cost about $10 and I did it with dados and added a stretcher across the bottom for extra strength. It could probably hold about 500 lbs and last for a few generations.
-Chris
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Hi Barry,
Thanks for the kind words. These were fun projects to build. Can't wait to see how my son likes them :)
Mike
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