NURSERY SUITEDad goes all out for the new arrival.
SHOP OWNER: Jason Falejczyk
LOCATION: Mokena, IL
When my wife and I found out we were having our first baby, naturally I couldn't be more excited. Since this was our first, we had absolutely nothing in terms of furniture for the nursery. I never even considered buying baby furniture at a store. Instantly it was decided that I would build everything for the nursery. Only having a few years of hobbyist woodworking under my belt, I knew it would be a tremendous undertaking, but well worth it. I wanted this furniture to be a part of our family, passed on to each generation.
The design for all the furniture is my own. I spent the majority of my time working through ideas in my head than actually building. Not only do I not have access to CAD, I am a horrible drafter. The pieces were all designed on the fly from rough sketches. As each section went together I then decided how the details would be added. I built the six-drawer dresser and changing table first and then followed the same theme with the rest of the furniture.
A common element throughout the furniture is a simple arc. All the raised panels and top drawers were crowned, the majority of the rails were relieved on the underside with an arc, and the caps of the changing table, crib, and quilt rack were all bent laminated around an arc-shaped form. I also incorporated curly maple as an accent in each piece. For example, all the slats and cap pieces are curly.
I built the dresser/hutch and changing table at the same time due to their similarity in design. Internal web frames with dust panels are dadoed into plywood sides making up the carcass. The frame-and-panel sides (made with mortise-and-tenon joints) are attached with screws from the inside. I attached all the face frame pieces with biscuits and glue, using no brads at all.
Requested by my wife, the hutch is my favorite part of the nursery. It features two bookcase units with a center bridge in between. The shelves of the bridge are connected to each side of the bookcases with sliding dovetails. Behind each door there is an adjustable half-shelf for more storage.
The sides of the changing table required a little extra detail: slats and a cap piece. The curly maple slats fit into mortises top and bottom. The laminated curly maple cap is held on with glue and screws that pass up through the top mortises of each slat.
I was especialy proud to have made our little boy's crib, where he sleeps every night. The crib front and back gate slats fit into mortises on the top and bottom of the rails. The back rails are dry mortised into the side and connected with furniture bolts and barrel nuts. The front features a rodless system which lowers the gate (sold at Rockler).
The [greatly over-designed] quilt rack (below) has four supports to hold all of Joshua's baby blankets. The sides of the quilt rack and the crib are pretty much identical to the changing table.
I also made the quilted-maple picture frame shown at right. The top and bottom piece, as well as each side, are book-matched. Cherry splines strength each miter joint.
To dress up each corner of the nursery and add more storage space, I added these graduated corner shelves (below). The radii are 10", 14", and 18", respectively.
One feature I didn't want to skimp on was drawer storage space. Our store-bought furniture has the smallest drawers, which drives me nuts. I wanted to make sure we would not run out of storage space.
The drawers in the changing table and dresser are solid wood, except for the plywood bottom. I used soft maple for the drawer boxes and hard maple for the false fronts. Each false front is book-matched. On the dresser, not only are they book-matched, but the grain continues from left to right on each level of drawers. The sides were also time consuming. Since my soft maple stock all needed to be face jointed, and the drawer depth was greater than the capacity of my 6" jointer, I had to rip each piece in half, face joint, and then reglue back together before planing the other side flat.
I used half-blind dovetails for the fronts and backs of all the drawers. In order to avoid destroying the beauty of the dovetails, I used fully-concealed, full-extension, ball-bearing slides from Mepla.
I've had terrible trouble in the past staining maple, so I took the somewhat easy way out. Not concerned with yellowing, I decided on an oil finish. Each piece is finished with Watco natural Danish oil followed by polyurethane. I rubbed out the finish to a smooth feel with 0000 steel wool. I finished the drawer boxes of the dresser and changing table with pale shellac instead of oil and poly....Jason Falejzcyk
Visit Jason's Web site at http://home.comcast.net/~jfalejczyk1/index.htm .
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P.O. Box 493
Springtown, PA 18081