Samantha's Babydoll Bed - Christmas 2013

My daughter Samantha had received an American Girl Bitty Baby doll she named Bessie. The only thing she had to "put her to bed" in was the box it came in, so I set out to build her a suitable baby doll bed as a Christmas present.

While at Home Depot, I ran across these wall baseboard trim corner pieces that were pre cut and milled, and thought they'd make great bedposts were they flipped upside down. I also picked up some wooden drawer pulls to use as the bedknobs.

For the footboard and headboard, I had some scrap pine that I cut to equal lengths, and cut a channel across the bottoms for the plywood bottom. I also cut matching grooves in the bedposts. You can also see here the holes marked off and drilled for the dowels I use to fit the bedposts to the footboard and headboard when I glue it all up.

Here you see the headboard and footboard test assembled with the bedposts. The curved sections of the baseboard trim corners will be the legs, and the flat tops will have the drawer knobs attached as bedknobs.

At this point I grab some scrap pine for the bed rails, and cut a groove for the plywood base that matches the groove in the posts and the headboard and footboard.

Gluing everything up with my clamps, then sanding it smooth. Can't have any splinters in this!

Here I am making sure my dowel holes are mated to the posts. On one or two, they were off a bit, so I had to sand out the inside of the hole a smidge just to line everything up. Once it's glued and clamped, they aren't going to go anywhere.

Also, marking T for top, and R for right, and other identifying marks makes building something like this much easier. Putting the hole on the wrong side is much less likely if things are labeled.

Final glue-up with clamps, sanding with some 220 grit sandpaper, and on to the rails...

I couldn't fit the long rails under my drill press, so I clamped them to the deck of my tablesaw, and used my power drill to put my dowel holes where they need to be. The level on the drill helps, but isn't perfect. However, careful drilling makes for "good enough."

The plywood base that will support the foam mattress. This will NOT be glued in, to allow for expansion and contraction of the natural wood depending on humidity. If I were to glue it in, I would be afraid something would crack. The plywood panel is about 1/4 inch into the groove on all four sides, and I beveled the corners.

Clamping the bed up, I use my machinist's squares to ensure good 90 degree corners. I adjust and test and adjust as I tighten the clamps, then leave it alone for the glue to set up.

Now that the bed is clamped, I can mark my locations for the dowels that will hold the bed knobs on.

Then I drill out the knobs to accept my dowels. They come with a hole big enough for the screw they come packaged with, but I need a 1/4 inch hole for the dowel.

And once I have the bedposts drilled, I glue and attach the knobs.

If you do this, at this point, take some good 220 or 400 grit sandpaper, and go over all the sharp corners, clean up or erase any assembly marks, and decide what kind of finish you want to go with.

I went with a minwax gel polyurethane, stain and sealer, several coats. One note, if you get glue on the wood, and don't get it off right away with a wet rag, you'll have splotchy sections where the stain doesn't want to go. I have a couple, but I am going to end up hitting the whole thing with sandpaper again to "pre weather" it so it won't hurt too much if Samantha bangs it around a bit.

Here I used a hot wire foam cutter to cut the foam mattress. My wife katie will sew up the material for the mattress cover and blanket.

As you can see here, the mattress cover...

And blanket. Samantha already loves it, and has put it to good use.


Thanks for reading!

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