If you recently had a baby, you know how important it is to be well prepared for the rigors of the first few months. Are you wondering how to make it all more manageable and save time on routine tasks that you repeat every day?
Rest assured, it’s possible.
The secret is in the small things, like having an optimal DIY changing table topper. If your changing table doesn’t include this element, you can create it from scratch based on the simple instructions I will provide for you.
Are you ready for this woodworking adventure?
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Preparation starts with your toolbox. In order to craft a changing table topper, you need just a few basic tools that most of us already have and know how to use.
Here is the full list of tools that you must have at your disposal:
- Hand-operated or power saw
- Handheld power drill
- Mini jig
As you can see, just a few well-chosen tools are enough to do the job of putting together a great looking wood changing table topper.
If you don’t already have them, they are a smart investment since they can be used for countless other woodworking projects in the future.
Supplies needed for DIY Changing Table Topper
Naturally, you’ll need some materials and accessories to work with.
Again, this is nothing too hard to find or too expensive, so you should be able to get them in your local hardware store.
If you’re looking for a detailed guide on how to DIY a changing table with an IKEA hack, have a look at my instructions here.
Here is a list of supplies necessary to make your own baby changing dresser topper:
- Wood – 1 board around 1 inch thick, dimensions 10’ x 4’’
- Wood glue
- Fine woodworking brush
- 1 ¼’’ pocket hole screws
- Protective felt pads
Make sure you have quality supplies before you decide to start working on a practical project on your own.
This can’t be emphasized enough, as the point is to save money without compromising the quality of your changing table topper for the dresser or another piece of furniture.
What to know before getting started!
The first thing you need to understand is that your diaper changing table topper is just an extension of an existing piece of furniture.
This fact somewhat limits the range of things you can do, but it also guides you very precisely. Pay attention that all dimensions match the original changing table closely.
You should put child’s safety above all other concerns, including the aesthetic ones.
It’s very important for a baby changing table topper to have all four sides, preventing any possibility of a fall. Sharp edges are also a big no-no, so you need to pay attention to smoothen any surfaces the child might touch while the changing table is in use.
Finally, if any of the equipment necessary for this task is new to you, it’s highly advisable to take some time and learn how to use it before you start working on the topper.
You could watch a couple of tutorials or practice with spare materials in order to be confident once the real work begins. You don’t want to ruin your topper or get injured because you made a preventable mistake.
Wood Cut list to DIY A Changing Table Topper
When you are ready for the implementation stage, start by creating a precise list of all the pieces you need for the changing dresser topper, with exact dimensions.
If you follow my design, the woodcut list will be quite brief, but please treat my dimensions as guidance only since you need to customize your own changing table, whatever its size may be.
- Short sides, dimensions 15 ¼’’ x 4’’ (2 pieces)
- Long sides, dimensions 32 ¼’’ x 4’’ (2 pieces)
Basically, you just need to cut the board down to size and get four simple stripes of wood.
However, getting the dimensions exactly right and the edges completely straight is very important.
Cost of a DIY Changing Table Topper
It goes without saying that adapting an existing changing table is less expensive than purchasing a new one, but the exact costs of a DIY solution may differ from case to case.
The key factor is how much of the needed supplies and tools you already own – if you have to buy all the machines the costs will be considerable and it may be hard to justify the DIY approach.
In my case, the price ended up barely higher than what I paid for the wood and stain, but that’s because I am already well-stocked for any DIY ideas that involve woodwork.
Most people will have to spend a little more than the mere $20 that my topper cost me, and those who have to purchase everything could even be better served getting a finished product in the store.
However, any investment in high-end equipment should be seen as a strategic move that helps you save money down the line.
Even if your first DIY changing table topper turns out to be a bit pricey, you will be well prepared for any similar projects in the future.
You have to start building your tool collection some time, and the construction of a changing table topper is a great reason to do it.
This whole adventure shouldn’t take more than an afternoon to complete regardless of your skill level.
In fact, it should be possible to get everything done within an hour if you know what you are trying to achieve and can handle the power saw reasonably well.
Of course, since you are working on your own there is no reason to rush the process.
It’s far more sensible to work at your own pace and perhaps spend a little more time than to risk doing something wrong and jeopardizing the quality of the end product.
If you get stuck with any step, don’t panic. Just go back to this article or seek out additional tutorials and then try again when your understanding of the matter has improved.
Remember that you are not wasting time – you are upgrading your skills and learning how to make your own DIY furniture, and that’s a very valuable asset.
DIY Changing Table Topper – Instructions
Now that you know everything about the tools and methods, you need to put your knowledge into practice and see how well you will do with an actual changing dresser topper.
Step 1 – Cut all pieces exactly to dimensions
As I mentioned previously, measuring your old changing table is the first thing you have to do.
Use those dimensions to determine the exact size of the sides, then mark the wood board with a soft pencil and start cutting using the saw.
Follow the marked lines very precisely but don’t obsess over minor imperfections – they can be resolved with a bit of sanding.
However, this is only possible if your mistake is on the waste side, so for beginners, it makes sense to cut a few millimeters from the line to leave some space for corrections.
Finally, you are trying to create two identical pairs of elements, so after you complete one of them you can use it as guidance for its opposite member.
Getting parallel sides to match is the key to creating the best changing table topper possible.
Step 2 – Drill pocket holes on short sides
After you are done with the saw, it’s time to drill some holes in the wood.
This task is not very hard if you have the right equipment, although controlling your drill requires a steady hand.
Please note that the pocket holes are needed only on the short sides. You need four holes in total per element, two on the left end and two more on the right.
It is important that the holes are drilled exactly at 90 degrees to the surface of the wood. To achieve this, you have to immobilize the board with clamps and use the jig before you turn on the drill.
Step 3 – Stain and assemble your topper
In my experience, applying stain to the wooden elements should be done before you assemble the piece, or otherwise, you might make a big mess.
One coat of paint should be enough to protect the material, but you might want to add another just to match the color of the dresser.
The assembly process is very simple – just screw the short sides into the dresser and use a lot of glue for all connecting surfaces.
To minimize scratching, inserting felt pads under the topper is a smart idea that won’t affect the visual appearance of the finished product.
Keep in mind that my instructions are for a simple, universal changing table topper.
You can craft much more complex items using the same equipment and a similar concept, so consider this article to be just the beginning of your training.
The best way to learn is through practice, so I am encouraging you to experiment until you reach a satisfactory result.
Hopefully, you will come to enjoy the process as much as the outcome – the joy of feeling the wood in your hands is simply incomparable!
I hope you like this guide on a DIY changing table topper. Let me know how your thoughts in the comments!