When I was first asked to make a wheelchair compatible crib it seemed simiple enough; simply lengthen the legs so that the wheelchair could roll underneath. That worked fine as long as you didn’t want to put the baby in or take the baby out of the crib. It was quickly brought to my attention that the issue with standard cribs was access to the infant inside.
This problem had been addressed my wheeled parents in a variety of ways. One was cutting the legs so that the parent could roll up beside the crib and reach down into it. As an initial solution this kinda worked, at least until the child grew to a point where two hands were required to lift it. That type of stretch put quite a strain on the side and back muscles of the parent and eventually became less than optimal.
Other solutions suggested that the side could slide open toward one side of the crib. Again, it could work, but if the entire side moved, then the crib would require nearly double the floor space due the the extended side when open. And, if only a part of the side opened, then that made part of the inside of the crib inaccessible to parent.
Some folks have modified cribs so that one side would swing open like a door. However, like a partial sliding side left part of the crib out of reach. Additionally, swinging the side open requires that the parent back away from the crib which unfortunately exposes the infant to falling out while unprotected.
As a result, I settled on a bi-fold side and am confident that it is the safest and most functional design. It allows the parent to remain at the side of the crib at all times to protect the child while allowing full access to the inside of the crib.
The problem here is the mechanics, and I’m looking for confirmation that what I’m doing is good, or that there is a better way. I’ve build a half dozen of these and each has had a slight improvement in functionality and safety over the last. I’m pretty sure I’m not perfect (I could be wrong here), so I’m constantly looking for better ways to do things.
Currently I’m using “3/8 pivot hinges with one inserted in a hole and another riding in a groove routed into the rail. This works fine for the most part. My problem is that the hinges are wood and the slot is wood and sometimes there’s a bit of binding.
The other problem is strength. I could make the rails thicker, but one of the things that folks are attracted to is the fact that the crib looks like a regular crib proportionately and too much thicker and the furniture could start to look a bit clunky.
What I’m looking for is a better sliding mechanism, if there is one that does not require custom ordering. The biggest weakness at this point is making sure that the bi-fold side is secure and free moving. Anyone got some ideas?
-- Working at Woodworking http://www.VillageLaneFurniture.com