Stuff I’ve Built: The Cradle

This is one of those projects that was supposed to be done a few weeks ago.  When I first posted my entry about building a cradle to donate to a local pregnancy crisis center, it was supposed to be ready in time for Christmas.

However, I don’t think that the need for it has gone away.  It’s done now and ready to be dropped off anonymously to be given to a new mom.

The original patterns for the cradle came printed on standard letter-sized paper and had to be joined together to create the full sized working plans.  That took a little time to understand, but was very easy and allowed me to create the flowing curves on the piece.

The original plan for the cradle was to be a knock-down design which could be stored safely after a child outgrew it, waiting for the next new family member should a new one arrive. After discussing this plan with my wife, she brought up a very important point.  If I was donating the cradle anonymously and someone had a question about how to set it up, how would they know what to do?

At that point, I decided I should modify the plan to permanently attach the sides to the head and foot board.  Fort this application, I chose plugged pocket screws, but I could have easily chosen dovetails or some other joinery method.

The handles were easy to cut. Working from the patterns, I located two center point for 1″ forstner bit holes and connected them with a flowing curve.

As I cut each piece to size, I finish sanded them and rounded over all the edges, paying special attention to the areas that were going to get handled.  This was much easier before everything was assembled.

The finish was a thinned down coat of Zinnser Seal Coat (mixed half and half with denatured alcohol).  Then, A thorough sanding with 400 grit paper to get the surface super smooth, then three coats of wipe-on poly to offer more protection.

Again, I would like to thank the folks at Wood Magazine who donated their cradle plan and the guys at Bell Forest Product for donating the beautiful maple.  Thanks, guys.  I appreciate your generosity!

Now, to get the cradle into the car and get it down to the pregnancy crisis center before they open at 8:30…. I hope they like it!

6 thoughts on “Stuff I’ve Built: The Cradle”

  1. Hey Tom,
    I love this idea. I told a fellow woodworker from church about your post and we’ve been talking about ways we could do something similar with our local pregnancy crisis center.
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Tom,

    – Great cause
    – Great workmanship
    – Great article

    Kudos all around. It would be wonderful to know the plight of the life that will rest in that cradle.


  3. It was dropped off this morning at 8:10 a.m.

    I had my youngest son Steven with me when I dropped it off. He asked a lot of questions. “Why are you doing this?” “Who is going to get it?

    Teaching my son to be generous was all the reward I needed.

  4. Tom – The curve that you cut in the sides (the drop down followed by the rise up), how did you do those? I’m looking at making something similar for a friend, and could really use some “expert” advice 🙂

  5. Expert? Gosh, I love your confidence in me. 🙂

    I go the curves from the Wood Magazine pattern found here:

    At first, it looks very confusing. However, once you make enough copies, tape them together and cut them out, it’s a matter of tracing the plans.

    As you can see from the photo on Wood’s site, the sides are held with through mortises and the whole unit is designed to be knocked down for storage. That’s what my wife advised me against doing and told me to fix it in place permanently…

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