How To Build a Crib for $200

If you read my “Expecting Caleb” post, you know I agonized over the crib and coveted cribs from Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware.  I really wanted that giant back board look that has such a strong presence.  Thankfully though, I started to ponder how hard could it be to build your own crib?  Not that hard as it turns out!

So, if you have a baby on the way and want to know how to build a crib, check out my tutorial and crib plans below. This is my first attempt at a tutorial so I apologize in advance for the poor pictures and most likely the missing instructions!  Leave me a message if you have any questions though!

Disclaimer:  Build at your OWN RISK.  Though I researched current standards, this crib design has not been tested and I do not represent in anyway that it meets current crib safety standards.  Do your own research and come to your own conclusions before you build!

Tool List
Kreg Jig
Miter Saw
Table Saw or Circular Saw
Nail Gun or Hammer
Carpenter’s Square
1.5″ Pocket Screws
2″ Wood Screws
Finish Nails

Materials List
2x10s  | five 8′ boards
2x2s | four 8′ boards
1x3s (poplar) | seven 8′ boards
2x4s | one 6′ board
1x2s | two 8′ boards
Quarter Round | two 8′ lengths
OSB | one 4×8 sheet
General Finishes Java Gel Stain, Pint
Wood Glue

Crib Front View

Step 1:  Build Side Panels

2x10s | 3 @ 28.5″
2x2s | 2 @ 27.75″ | 1 @ 34″

First make your cuts, then pre-drill two pocket holes into the top and bottom 2x2s for attachment to the vertical, front facing 2×2.  See Img 1 for reference.

Then, begin by attaching the bottom and top 2x2s to the 2x10s placing your wood screws as shown in Img 2.

Do NOT use the Keg Jig to suck the 2x10s together as you will end up with holes either on the inside where they can cut the baby, or or on the outside where they will need to be filled and will most likely show in your final product.

Instead, use the Kreg Jig drill bit to drill about a quarter of the way through the bottom and top 2x2s.  Then, insert the wood screws and fasten them to the top and bottom of each 2×10.    Make sure to keep the 2×10 panels as tight to each other as possible during this process.  I put two screws into each 2×10.


Step 2:  Build Back Panel

2x10s | 6 @ 48″ (if you choose to cut the curve, you will do it later)
1x2s | 2 @ 48″

The back panel requires counter sink screws down both edges to tie into the side panels.  It also requires pocket holes to suck each 2×10 together.

First attach 2x10s to each other.  Then drill countersink holes with Kreg Jig bit (or countersink bit) down the vertical edge of the outside 2x10s.

Then attach the 1x2s to the back panel to provide additional support.

If you choose to cut the curved headboard, this is the step to do it!  I decided not to cut it in the end so I’m not going to make suggestions on how to do it… Good Luck!

Step 3: Attach Side Panels to Back Panel

You might want to cut some temporary feet for the back of the side panels to help attach to the back panel.

This step was SUPER tricky, even for my husband and I working together.  Ultimately, we cut temporary feet, stood up both the back panel and the side panels at the same time, and used a level to get everything straight and plum… then put screws in through the back panel pre-drilled holes.

Step 4: Build the Railing

2x2s | 2 @ 52.5″
1x3s | 12 @ 28.5″

After making VERY precise cuts, drill pocket holes into the top and bottom 2x2s in the same manner as shown in Step 1, Img 1.

Next, determine your slat spacing.

Slat Spacing:  Our spacing was ___ between the side panel and first slat  (and last), and ______ between each interior slat.  Because this is a crucial step to the overall look of your crib, we recommend using the formula below to figure out your spacing.

Length of horizontal 2×2 – (2.5*12)=X

X / 11 spaces= interior spaces

(Length of horizontal 2×2- (2.5*12)-X) / 2 = first and last space

Next, mark out your spacing on the bottom and top 2x2s.  Use a light pencil so that it won’t be seen after you stain.

Then, pre-drill holes into the top and bottom 2x2s.  We put two screws into the end of each slat to prevent them from turning (diagram only shows one screw hole but we opted for two once we started).  In some instance, where there was a knot in the wood, we put two screws in one end of the slat and two into the other.

Lastly, attach the slats to the 2x2s.  Use wood glue on the top and bottom of each slat.

Step 5: Attach the Front Railing to the Side Panels

Use the pre-drilled pocket holes in the horizontal 2x2s  to attach to the side panel.

Step 6: Build the Mattress Platform

2x2s | 5 @ 24.5″
2x4s | 2 @ 52.5″
OSB | 52.5″ x 27.5″

Build the frame, pre-drill the countersink holes into the back and side 2x2s.  Then attach the OSB with wood screws from the top side down.

Step 7: Attach Platform to crib.

We lifted the crib up onto some spare 2x10s to allow for enough clearance underneath the crib for my husband to attach the platform to the crib side and back.  Then, we lowered the platform into the crib and used a level to find its final placement.


Step 7: Trim Pieces

1x3s | 2 @ 30.25″ | 1 @ 52.5 | 1 @ 55.5″ (for top backboard if you chose to keep it flat)
1/4 Round | 2 @ 30.25″ | 1 @ 52.5 | 1 @ 55.5″ (for top backboard if you chose to keep it flat)

Use glue and a nail gun with finish nails to attach the trim pieces to the crib. We then filled the small holes with wood filler before sanding and staining.

Step 8: Sand and Stain

We opted for the General Finishes Java Gel Stain.  Because the poplar and yellow pine absorb stain differently, a gel stain is a good option.  Gel stains are thicker and therefore do not absorb into wood the same way that a traditional stain does.  Since the gel stain sits on top of the wood, it creates a more uniform appearance when working with different types of wood.  We are very pleased with the results thus far!

13 thoughts on “How To Build a Crib for $200

    1. Hi Lynn,

      Yes, it takes a standard mattress. Standard mattresses vary somewhat but I think pretty much all of them should fit without having too much space between the mattress and the crib walls. For reference, our mattress is 52 in x 27.5 in and I think that it is the Simmons Kids Beautyrest Crib and Toddler Mattress – Black mattress at Babies R Us. The munchkin is asleep on it now or I would go look!!

    1. Yes and no. We have adjusted the mattress height once but it is a bit of a chore. To do so, you just remove the mattress, then get under the crib and remove the screws securing the mattress platform. Then you can move the platform up or down and re-attach it. The downside is you could end up with holes from the original mattress height inside the crib after you move the platform down. Rough holes can obviously be an issue as the baby could splinter themselves on it. To avoid this we started off with the mattress height a little lower than you might normally have it when they are a newborn. I am tall enough though at 5’7″ that it wasn’t a problem for me. We have now moved it down but the old holes are still below the height of the mattress. Hope that makes sense and sorry for the delayed response!

    1. Dana,

      You are correct, so sorry about that! Looks like I have it labeled correctly in the diagrams but not on my cut list. The correct dimension is 27 3/4″. I just measured my sons crib to be absolutely certain. Hopefully you guys were able to modify your cut without too much issue since at least I listed it as too long instead of too short!

  1. The height adjustment was the answer I was looking for, thank you, so glad someone asked. I see this is from last year, did you have any issues with baby chewing on crib edges? If so, what was your solution? Our 23 year old is giving us our first grandbaby & I was researching ideas for this soon-to-be grandma to build something special.

    1. Hi Kathleen,

      So sorry I didn’t see your comment and respond faster! I’ve been slacking off, to say the least. Yes, actually I did have issues with my son chewing the railing. We ended up putting a plastic rail covering on to protect the rail from him. I’m not sure if that is the exact product we ordered anymore but it looks identical. It worked very well until he was significantly older and discovered he was stronger than the adhesive At that point, we just added some hot glued it on and didn’t have any more issues at all. I would order two sets though if you do want it to go all the way around. One box won’t be long enough.

  2. With this crib are you able to use a crib sheet? I know with some of the diy crib you can’t so I was just checking.

    1. You can use a standard mattress in the crib and a standard crib sheet. Mattresses will vary about an inch on some of the dimensions so you might want to measure the exact opening of the crib after you build it and compare that to the baby mattress you intend to buy. For reference, our mattress is 52 in x 27.5 in and I think that it is the Simmons Kids Beautyrest Crib and Toddler Mattress from Babies R Us.

  3. Love the crib, it’s perfect for our nursery!

    I would share that if I were to make it again, I’d use 1×10’s in lieu of the 2×10’s. I feel it would still be plenty sturdy enough but cut down on the weight. This thing is HEAVY as designed here!!!

    1. Hi Lauren,

      I agree, I think 1x10s would be more than sturdy enough and you are right it is HEAVY. We have had to carry it upstairs at our old house, then back downstairs when we moved, and now its in our new house and IT’S NEVER MOVING AGAIN!

      I do like the chunky, masculine look of the 2x10s which is what I was going for, but the weight is definitely a draw back! I would love to see pictures of your crib!

Leave a Reply