Cradle .... finally

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Project by DarrylK posted 08-14-2008 08:52 PM 1762 views 3 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been a dedicated woodworker for years, doing small and medium sized projects (beds, nightstands, music boxes, intarsia, kids toys, bookcases, finish carpentry, piano benches etc…) for years (time permitting), however before our first child was born almost 10 years ago I promised my wife I would build a cradle for our new arrival.

I blinked, 3 years passed, I didn’t build the cradle, and our second child was on the way. My wife gently (and frequently) reminded me that I owed her a cradle, and being an optimist I vowed that baby # 2 would get that cradle.

As an optimist (not realist), I missed the mark yet again.

Last year, while pregnant with # 3 and extremely hormonal, my wife threatened me that I would be building myself a man-sized doghouse for the back yard if I didn’t deliver the overdue cradle. This time, in fear of that doghouse and Chicago winters I took a few days off work and worked several all-nighters in the shop (garage) to deliver that cradle.

Sleep deprivation aside, the good news was that I was able to finally justify the bandsaw and surface planers.

40 hours, and a deep hatred for “cheap” vacuum presses later, I emerged sleepily from my shop with my favorite (and wife’s most cherished) project yet. In fact, the last bit of squeeze-out was wiped off and the cradle placed in the center of our living room just in time for her baby shower. The 3 coats of satin clear would have to wait until the party was over.

Now, almost a year later, the cradle still sits at the foot of our bed, filled with a baby blanket and other objects that the little guy has since grown out of. My wife will not allow it to be disassembled, moved or otherwise disturbed, and it is the first stop in any tour (given by my wife) of our home.

The book-matched end-panels (I finally had to abandon vacuum pressing, although I had a great time making the veneer) and slats are made from Goncalo Alves, an amazing wood I stumbled across in the pen-blank section of the Rockler I used to frequent, and the rails, rockers and rest of the body is made from curly maple, my favorite wood.

I learned a lot (mostly what NOT to do) making this piece, and loved every minute of it. I’m now being pressured to make a whole set of bedroom furniture for the toddler from the same wood…. I think it will be his high-school graduation present. :)

11 comments so far

View Bigbuck's profile


1347 posts in 3664 days

#1 posted 08-14-2008 09:26 PM

Nice looking cradle, it’s always nice when you can justify a new toy with a project also.

-- Glenn, New Mexico

View Callum Kendall's profile

Callum Kendall

1918 posts in 3704 days

#2 posted 08-14-2008 09:59 PM

Great job!

Thanks for the post


-- For wood working podcasts with a twist check out

View W. Paul's profile

W. Paul

45 posts in 4090 days

#3 posted 08-14-2008 11:31 PM

When our first was about to learn to walk, I promised my wife I would build our daughter a stepstool. A year and a half later, the project finally emerged. It took a long time to put those six pieces together!

The stool took so long because I wanted to inlay an ivy pattern going up the sides. I was a newbie woodworker, so the only power tools I had were a scroll saw, a drill and a circular saw. Between those tools and a hand plane, I was able to get what I was after, but it was a real challenge! I’ll have to post the project some day!

-- Paul, Wildwood, MO; (Ps 145: 1-2)

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3674 days

#4 posted 08-14-2008 11:50 PM


I though projects where SO you could buy new toys

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

405 posts in 3833 days

#5 posted 08-15-2008 12:06 AM

Sharp looking cradle!

I’ve built the furniture for our first two (crib/dresser) and with our third on the way was considering building a toddler bed for our eldest and handing down the crib. Lucky for me, my wife also insisted I built new furniture for this one—as it wouldn’t be fair for the baby not to have their own “heirloom” set to hand down.

But I look at this as a gift—it’s the perfect excuse for “guilt free” shop time!

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4401 days

#6 posted 08-15-2008 12:38 AM

Darryl. A great baby cradle.

When one of our daughters was into, I asked if she would like me to build her a cradle. She replied yes. After building it, my wife said she wanted one also. I cut the wood and that is where it stands 13 years later.

Another daughter was into and I asked if she would like me to build her a cradle. She said yes, so i did.My wife said she wanted one. I didn’t cut the wood this time.

Another daughter was into with a set of twins. I asked if she wanted a cradle. She said yes. So I built it My wife said she wanted one. My daughter sided up to me one day and she said “Mom really wants a cradle” So I made her one

Sometimes it takes a while to get going, and to get finishing.

Great job, you wife must be proud if it’s the first stop on all house tours.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3723 days

#7 posted 08-15-2008 02:48 AM

Darryl, that is a great looking cradle and a wonderful story to go with it. The only problem I see is that you will need to make a few more when your children have thier children.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3714 days

#8 posted 08-15-2008 03:16 AM

Wow, her wait was worth it, that’s a great lookin’ cradle… well done.

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3767 days

#9 posted 08-15-2008 04:40 AM

I don’t know, if the man sized doghouse is several hundred square feet, wired, cooled, heated… it might have been worth it. Just kidding. It was definitely worth the wait. It will be cherished for many generations. Thanks for sharing Darryl.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View BryceVTR250's profile


10 posts in 2994 days

#10 posted 12-03-2010 06:47 AM

My father in law and I are about to endeavor making this cradle, we got the plans out of an issue of wood magazine # 85 1996. Im a draftsman by trade so I have been modeling it in sketch-up according to the dimensions given and have been running into some issues. I noticed on the uprights that the Mortices for the knockdown hardware breakthrough the groove in the upright. also the width of the plywood end-panels barely allows it to seat inside the groove in the center rail. the sides of the panels end up resting on the inside surface of the groove in the uprights. have you run into any similar issues?

View DarrylK's profile


7 posts in 3573 days

#11 posted 12-03-2010 07:25 AM

Knockdown hardware mortices – I actually waited to do the mortices for the knockdown hardware until the project was totally finished, I was afraid, like you, that they would break into the upright so I actualy bought the knockdown hardware from Rockler then ground it down on a grinding wheel and hand-cut the mortices. Taking my time to make sure I didn’t break thru.

Plywood end panels – It was my intention all along to do the Maple and Goncalo Alves on the cradle, I liked the contrasting colors of the 2 woods, but it presented some challenges. I had originally tried to cut my own veneer for the end panels since Goncalo Alves plywood isn’t available, but had a hard time both getting the veneer the right thickness and getting the substrate thin enough, so that the finished product was thin enough to fit. I eventually abandoned veneer, after spending a lot of time on a jig, and money on a pump, and simply cut a solid piece of Goncalo Alves, ran it thru the surface planer and drum sander until it was the proper thickness then cut it so I could do a book-matched finish. I was able to make the panel the size I wanted, instead of having to use the dimensions called for in the plans.

Thanks for pointing out the magazine issue, I’d lost the thing during the build and have been trying to find it ever since, with no luck. The issue I had included the cut-sheets with templates for all the panels, so I didn’t need to go to great lengths to get the right dimensions. If I’d had to use sketch-up (which I can’t stand) I probably wouldn’t have built the cradle at all.

This piece is still on display in my bedroom, if you need any close-up photos, measurements etc.. please let me know and I’ll get them to you.

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