Michael’s Cot Project

Viewer Project - By Michael Bibby from Chester, UK
Added on November 5, 2013

Last year, knowing I was going to become a daddy soon, I decided to build a good quality, solid cot for my soon-to-arrive baby. At the time I still had a good 7 months before the due date and figured I’d have plenty of time to complete the project. Looking back on this (after a total of 9 months!) I realise that it was actually quite an ambitious project! My daughter did finally get her birthday present, although it ended up being over 2 months late :)

I have written a full blog post about this project on my woodworking site (http://www.diyguidebook.co.uk) so rather than re-write it all, I have put just some of the highlights of the project in this post.

A cot is made up of a “lot” of separate parts and so a large amount of my time was devoted to cutting, jointing and thicknessing the parts I would need. It wasn’t until after all of this work had been done that I finally got to the fun part of actually cutting joints.

All of the side slats were given stub tenons which I cut on the router table. A channel was then cut into all side rails into which the tenons would fit. I also cut small spacer blocks which I glued into the gaps between the slats to ensure the spacing was consistent and helped strengthen the joints…it also looked nicer.
For the rounded parts of the cot, I created a template out of MDF using a router on a length of stiff string. This template was then used with a bearing guided router bit to cut the top sections of the cot. All mortises were cut by drilling waste out of the wood with a drill press and then using a hand mortise chisel to clean up the mortises.

My initial plan had been to glue everything together, but it occurred to me that if I did that, the cot would be too heavy, large and cumbersome to move around the house once finished. Also it meant it could not be easily stored for future use. So I opted to use a set of cross dowel bolts to hold the sides and headboards together, essentially turning the cot into a flat-pack project. The mattress base was also held in with dowel bolts and three separate height holes were drilled into the legs to allow for optional heights of the mattress.

To finish the project, I wanted to do something which would maintain the natural appearance of the wood. I really like the grain patterns in American Ash and so chose to use both a dye (general finishes water based dye stains) to colour the wood evenly and then a pigment stain (general finishes gel stain) to help pop the grain nicely. I did some experiments with this to ensure that the contrast would not be too oppressive and that the colours worked well together. I used a toy-safe wax paste as the top-coat. I know this may not be the most hard-wearing, but I don’t really like deep shiny finishes, so I opted for wax to maintain the natural feel of the wood.

All in all I am really pleased with the end result. My daughter seems to like it too…although she’s probably a little too young to say so yet :) I’m an amateur woodworker living in the UK where woodworking is not a massively popular hobby, so its great to be featured on The Wood Whisperer’s website where everyone is so passionate about our hobby. I look forward to reading your comments.