We all get different kinds of satisfaction from all sorts of different projects. For me, utility projects and furniture have the most appeal but once in a while I like to make things for other members of the family too. In this case, a young niece. Another member of the family hand made a doll's quilt, so to make a complete package a doll was purchased and of course some sort of a bed is needed, so why not a cradled.
Since this is a child's toy I wanted something that would not be too heavy to carry around, yet sturdy and of course easy to clean. The wood I selected was some rough cut Cedar of Lebanon that was well below 12% on the moisture scale. I knew at the outset that this cradle was going to be painted (not by me, I hate covering wood with paint) so I was not so concerned about how the colors of the wood matched up.
As usual, this was a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants project, which means I wasn't working from a formal pattern, so I needed something to work with. I started by measuring the hand made quilt and from that could determine a base for the cradle which would be around 9 by 20 inches on the base and 10 inches in height.
The first order of business is to size the wood which means breaking down the rough cut wood on the jointer, then the planner then the bandsaw and finally back to the planner .... I always love dressing lumber because it's just like a ...
... birthday gift from Grandma, you never know what is going to be inside. A bit like a treasure hunt some days. Well this lumber turned out to be the same inside as what was on the outside, still very nice.
I decided on using half inch thick material, and being dry cedar, the weight was minimal while still retaining good strength. I hate having to break down nice wide boards, only to have to re-glue them back together again because my jointer is only 6 inches, but that's what I have. The good side of this is that it does make the wood somewhat more stable by using smaller strips, but it's a lot more work too.
After the boards were cut, glued and planned to proper width the first thing to do is cut the base or bed of the cradle, in our case 9 x 20 inches. We also decided that the sides would be slightly sloped to add a bit more visual appeal. Deciding on the angle was done by testing. We started off at around 17 degrees and decided that was clearly too much so moved it back to 15 degrees. We determined that even that was too much so changed the angle to one of the favorite woodworking angles of 12 1/2 degrees. We could see this looked much better but in making these kinds of adjustments it's always best if you can step back and look at your work from a bit of a distance and from a couple of different angles. This often gives you a better perspective of you work ... and yup, 12 1/2 degrees worked fine.
We went back to the table saw and re-set the blade for that angle and re-cut both the base of the cradle and bottoms and tops of both sides so that when the cradle was assembled the top would sit flat and the bottoms of the sides would match the angle of the base. A small but important detail.
The next major challenge was to figure out the semi-circle for the sides. We could easily do this using a compass but we have found that using some sort of a round object allows us to select different sizes and to move them around a bit to see what looks best, and sure enough, we found a round plastic lid that was about the right diameter and could move it around to see what looked best. When we were satisfied with the positioning, we simply penciled around the lid and made the rest of the sides an appropriate height. Next it was off to the scroll saw to cut out the semi circle sides and finally finish off the sanding at the drill press with a small drum sander.
Now that all the pieces are cut, all that is required is the assembly and since this is a pretty straight forward project, it should go together with no hitches. We found gluing the sides and using blue painter's tape worked best and of course we pinned the project as we were gluing it, with 23 gauge pins with really just act as a clamping device while the glue hardens.
The final piece of the project was the rockers. We found some scrap material that worked and we found another semi-circle that worked as well, happened to be a spare bicycle wheel I had laying around, a perfect semi-circle for this. We cut these out on the bandsaw then finished them on with the belt sander, then used flat head screws to attach them to the base of the cradle.
When all was done, we stood back to have a look, this little project turned out great, what wonderful way to do woodworking and please other people at the same time ... a very rewarding project indeed !!
Copyright - Colin Knecht