I've been building doll beds for various grandchildren. Each time I
build one, the design changes a bit.
Simply it's a dovetailed box 22" x 13" x 3.5", with 1x2 rails on each
corner for the bedposts. On the top, I have a headboard and footboard
running across from rail to rail. I've been attaching the rails to the
outside of the box with dowels and gluing the entire 3.5" along with
the dowels. When it's assembled and glued, it's as strong as I need it.
SWMBO makes covers and pillows and ruffles for the frames, and one of
the ruffles goes all the way round. Because the rails are mounted
outside the box, the ruffles are pulled out from the box by the
thickness of the rails, 3/4".
I'd rather have a flush line all the way up. ie. the bottom of the rail
is directly under the box, and the top of the rail shoots up from the
top of the box.
However, I don't know which way would be best to attach the (now 8
instead of 4) rails to the box. Using dowels to attach endgrain of the
rails seems to be a weak solution. I can see them snapping off. But I'm
inexperienced and maybe that's the right solution.
That's my question. Would dowelling those rails to the top and bottom
of the box be strong enough, or do I need to come up with some other
So far the material has been pine, but I'm considering oak for the next
Thanks very much in advance.
I would be happy to offer an opinion, but I could not follow your verbal
descriptions. How about posting a picture in
Haveing said that, I don't see how a doll bed could be anywhere near enough
stress to break proper dowel joints. If in doubt, insert a few more dowels.
I don't blame you. I reread them and can't follow them either and I
made the piece. I can't access abpw, so I've posted to my own site.
However, I don't know if the pic is any better than the description. I
didn't take any pics of the bare bed. I've altered the pic to outline
the box underneath the bedclothes
The rails I'm referring to are the uprights holding both the footboard
and headboard. Those rails are attached to (hidden but outlined in
black on this pic) box on the outside of the box. Although you can't
see it from the photo, the rails "push" out the fabric from the sides
of the box.
To alleviate that, I'd like to put the rails, on top and on the bottom
of the box to make the feet and uprights. The only way I can think of
attaching the rails to the box is to dowel. And that has me suspicious
about the strength of the feet, especially since it's a child's toy.
I hope this pic helps. It's not the best, I know but maybe it's better
than my prose.
A post is not a rail. Rails, as understood here, is a side board that
runs from each head board post to the corresponding foot board post.
The dovetailed box may be nice and nice looking, but it sure seems to
be overkill, as for stability. And attaching the side rails and posts
to one another (if that is the case), and they, in turn, attached to
the boxing, is again overkill. Doweling is plenty enough jointery, if
done correctly, for the structural integrity of a doll bed, with or
without the initial box that you make.
If I may, try this:
Eliminate the dovetailed box all together, or improvise with the
attaching of your boxing after considering the following. Create
tenons on the rail ends to insert into a mortise in the posts. This is
plenty enough jointery for your needs, there, and pinning the tenons,
with 2 small dowels for each tenon, will be extra security. For the
head and foot boards, they can be doweled or mortised and tenoned to
the posts. Below each the head and foot boards, add a dadoed or "L"
shaped (rabetted) stretcher, again M&T joint, with the lateral aspect
of the "L" pointing toward the interior of the bed. The stretchers
will add enough strength and more security to the stability of your bed
without having to rely on your original boxing. Slats can be placed in
the interior of the bed frame, for supporting the bedding material
(mattress, blankets, etc) and doll. Thin slats are plenty enough
support for the bedding material, doll, etc., and the slats can simply
rest in/on the dadoed or rabbetted stretchers below the head and foot
boards. For more stability, the slats can simply be glued in place
and/or attached in position with a few small brads .... Isn't that
Use a router (or sand, carve, bevel) to knock off the top, sharp edges
of your side rails.
Also, for some spice, I've recycled (salvaged) small balusters for doll
bed posts. Purchasing turned posts (table legs or newel posts) is an
option also. Have you tried making doll rockers? Those babies love
them, also, and will love you more, too, for that extra effort. I can
email you some pics, if you like.
Hope this helps.
It likely is. It was also my first project using dovetails. I was
having fun and they turned out ok. Granted it's more than needed but it
also helped me with something I'd wanted to learn for a long time.
However, I like your idea below better.
This seems perfect.
No change there. They are motised now.
Below each the head and foot boards, add a dadoed or "L"
Amazing. I love this idea. I"m not entirely sure that I get the
stretchers, but I'll play around with it on paper. This is so much
simpler than what I'd designed in the first place.
Will do that as well. It's easy and worth the time.
I'd at one time thought of making this bed into a rocking bed or
cradle, but got little or no support for the idea so shelved it for a
while. A doll rocker in itself seems a bit beyond my present
capabilities, but maybe not. And I'd love some pics.
It's helped immensely. I don't regret the earlier designs but I'm
postively thrilled at the new ideas you've given me. Thank you so much.
Thanks. I agree with a previous poster - get rid of the dovetailed box.
Treat the posts a table legs and the sides of the box as aprons on the
table - all upside down of course. Using dowels to put it all together will
be very strong and you will get the flush fit that you desire.
Thanks to both of you. I'm actually quite happy that I posted this in
the first place.
I got hung up on a design that worked, but as Sonny pointed out, was a
bit too much.
I'm really looking forward to a new design that will do just about
everything I wanted. And maybe more if I get into rockers.
first off, them aint rails, thems are posts you're talkin' aboot.
so. if you look at some human sized beds, you'll see that the rails
(the horizontal part that the mattress sits on) are generally mortised
into the posts, often with fancy take-apart hardware for breaking down
the bed into smaller sized chunks for moving it. since you don't need
to take it apart you can ignore that part. what you might consider is
dovetailing the rails into the posts instead of into each other.
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