|Project by dvhart||posted 02-12-2011 10:38 PM||12407 views||2 times favorited||5 comments|
My 5 year old son outgrew his toddler bed and needed a twin. I wanted to match his existing dresser – which unfortunately was a factory finished pine/MDF piece. Well made, but difficult to replicate. Given how hard he was on his furniture, I couldn’t see making this new one out of cherry or another fine hard wood. I opted for Poplar and Birch, and paid for it in finishing time.
The plan is from “Children’s Furniture Projects” by Jeff Miller. I beefed up the legs and added a secondary coved upper rail reminiscent of the details on his existing dresser. I also replaced two dowels and a hex-bolt with two furniture bolts with barrel nuts and a 3/8” steel alignment pin for each side rail to post connection. Lastly, I added an 1/8” round-over to all the pieces as I didn’t believe the sharp corners wouldn’t hold up.
I had my wood supplier plane all the poplar to 1 1/8” for a small fee to save time and planar blade life. After milling up the pieces I decided to apply the finish prior to assembly. I needed to finish the panels anyway to avoid gaps in the future due to expansion and contraction. I used a gel stain for the base color, which I find difficult to work out of corners and joints, so doing it prior to assembly appealed to me. The base color is a 3:1 mix of Georgian Cherry to Java. I applied one coat of sanding sealer. Both the birch and the poplar still had dense parts of the grain that didn’t take any stain, so I opted for a stain and poly combination (Minwax Polyshades Bombay Mahogany) for the next two coats. Polyshades is horrible to work with, it is very thick, likes to separate, and doesn’t lay down smooth. It was very difficult to get a thin coat with, but I eventually found that disposable foam brushes did a much better job than my expensive oil brushes. Unhappy with the result of the second coat of Polyshades, I gave everything a sanding with 220 on my random orbital to knock down the ridges. Finally, I wiped on a final coat of satin poly, which yielded an acceptable finish. The final color is darker and more brown than the photographs suggest, and matches the existing furniture quite well. I’m happy with the end result, but if I were to do it again, I’d look for an alternative to the Polyshades.
My son is thrilled with his new bed, but his little sister probably likes it more than he does. We find her up there looking through a picture book when he leaves his door open.