Hello, my name is Jerry, I’m retired and live in the country with my wife. I ‘very much’ consider myself a beginner furniture maker. This is the third cradle I’ve made – this one is for a Great Grandson. There are no metal fasteners in this cradle.
This cradle is made from trees I cut from our property, eastern red cedar and elm – both considered trash trees. I have a small bandmill which I use to saw the trees into something I can use. I buy the dowel rod and an occasional piece of hardwood for making wedges.
As to the cradle – it’s just a five sided box really. The two ends have dados to accept the 2 sides and the 1 bottom (5 total pieces). Each end panel and the bottom panel are comprised of two joined bookmatched boards – the sides are single bookmatched boards. The five panels are joined using wedged wooden dowels and glue. The narrow ‘upright’ bookmatched pieces on each end panel (aligned with the side panels) are partly aesthetic , but very much to provide additional overall structural integrity—this box does have precious cargo aboard.
Each end panel is attached to the sides via four wedged dowels extending through the upright, the end panel and into the side panels. With the ends lying at a 10 degree angle to the sides – the ‘want to pull apart force’ is at the top corners where the side panels and end panels meet. In order to provide additional ‘anti-pull apart support’ – I applied a small (3/4×2 x 3 appx.) elm block near the top, on the inside, where the side panel and end panel meet. Three of the wedged dowels are 1/4” – the 4th dowel is half inch dowel drilled into the applied block, at a slight off angle to the three 1/4’ dowels, glued and wedged.
Red cedar is brittle. The panels are approximately 7/16ths thick to reduce weight, overall bulkiness and create an overall more delicate looking piece. You can see the ash Dutchmen I have applied at the cedar knot checks and at the top of the end panels where the boards are joined together. You can’t see them, but at each corner, curve, etc I drilled 1/4” x 2” or 3” deep holes and inserted dowels to reduce the possibility of a corner cracking or breaking off in the future.
The bottom panel ‘appears’ to have three wedged dowels – the only dowel actually drilled through and into the bottom panel is the center dowel – the two dowels ate each end of the bottom panel are there to present continuity of appearance of the bottom panel to the side panel which are also attached via three small dowels.
Those upright pieces on the end look simple enough. Actually I cut six medium size cedars trees before I got the right amount (right amount according to me) of heartwood and sapwood to balance with the end panel proportion.
The ram’s horn handles—I was concerned about the integrity of just doweling the cut horn to the 7/16ths end panels. If you look at the inside of the end panels you can see an upside down elm rocker, (meant to simulate the outside rockers). They are attached to the end panel via six 1/4” wedged dowels. The ram’s horn was then attached with 5/8ths” wedged dowels that extend through the elm stiffener.
As every woodworker knows – part of the beauty of furniture making is picking just the right piece (of the wood/lumber) and placing it at the perceived ‘just right’ place can make all the difference. Notice the farther end panel and how the sapwood and the once upon a time limb lends itself to the curve.
I also used some granulated turquoise for accent in a few places.
I hope you enjoy the story of Matt’s Cradle.
Below is the message that was placed on the bottom of the cradle.
From Our Home,
West of Mannford, Oklahoma,
Just east of Cottonwood Creek and
Adjacent to Hi Way 51 on the south,
This cradle came.
From a single Cedar and bits of Elm,
Cut and joined by the hands of Great PaPa Jerry,
From the heart of Great Grandma Linda,
The whole of this child’s bed was made with love.
May all –
Who’s hands this cradle may touch –
Leave a kind thought behind,
Love -Great PaPa Jerry
September 28th, 2014
-- Develop your character -- for it becomes your destiny. Jerry - Mannford, Ok