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Home > Projects & DIY Toolkit > How-To Articles > Build a Doll Cradle

Build a Doll Cradle

Whether it's home to a child's latest dolly or a collector's prize possession, a hand-made cradle is a wonderful gift and a fulfilling project. The cradle also makes a nice toy box or an interesting conversation piece as an addition to your decor. Making a doll cradle may seem difficult at first, but once you break the project down to bite-sized pieces it's really quite simple. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.

Tools & Materials

Getting Started

This project is not intended to be used as a cradle for a child. It is intended for decorative purposes only.

This is an intermediate level project, but with a little planning, some patience, the right tools and careful attention to detail, a motivated, novice woodworking enthusiast should be able to pull through the project and maybe develop some new skills along the way. Before beginning this project, please familiarize yourself with the following techniques and concepts:

  •   • Making a Mortise and Tenon Joint
  •   • Frame and Panel Construction
  •   • Gluing Panels

Make the Cradle Box Side Panels

  •   1. Dry-fit the stiles and rails for one of the cradle box side panels.
  •   2. Measure the openings in the side panel and add 1/2" to each measurement. These measurements are for the flat panels that go inside the panel frames.
  •   3. Cut the flat panels and dry-fit them into the side panel frame.
  •   4. Glue and clamp the panel assembly.
  •   5. Repeat the steps above to make the second side panel.
Good idea: Cut the flat panels so the grain in each one runs in the same direction.

Make the Cradle Box End Panels

            Cut the end panels as indicated in the drawing

  •   1. Cut an end panel to a 19 5/8" high by 22" wide rectangle.
  •   2. Measure in from each side of the panel 2 1/2" and mark the bottom of the panel.
  •   3. Measure up 16" from the bottom of the panel and mark each side.
  •   4. Measure in from each side of the panel 9 1/2" and mark the top of the panel.
  •   5. Use a straight edge to draw a line from each mark at the bottom of the board to the 16" mark on the corresponding side. Use a straight edge to draw a line from each mark at the top of the board to the 16" mark on the corresponding side.
  •   6. Cut along the lines to make the end panel.
  •   7. Use the first end panel as a pattern to make the second.
  •   8. Counterbore three holes for screws in the outside end panel upright. Position the panel upright centered on the outside of the end panel so the bottom end of the upright is flush with the bottom edge of the end panel. Use 1 1/4" screws and glue to secure theupright to the panel.
  •   9. Position the inside end panel upright above the end panel and flush with the protruding portion of the upright. Glue and clamp the inside end panel upright in place.
  •   10. Bore a 3/4" diameter stopped hole 1 1/4" deep, centered left to right and 2 3/4" down from the top of the end panel upright.
  •   11. Cut a piece of 3/4" dowel 8" long and glue it into the stopped hole
  •   12. Make the second end panel as described above.
  •   13. Fill the screw holes with putty or wood plugs.

Assemble the Cradle Box

            Bore countersink holes in the end panel.

  •   1. Bore six evenly spaced countersink holes through the outside face of each end panel as shown in the graphic. The holes should allow screws to catch the top and bottom rail and a stile on each side panel.
  •   2. Apply a light coat of glue to the end of a side panel. Align the outside face of the side panel with the edge of an end panel. Screw through the end panel to secure the side panel in place.
  •   3. Secure the end panels to both side panels.
  •   4. Screw the bottom cleats to the inside faces of the end panels. The cleats should be 1/4" up from the bottom edge of the end panel.
  •   5. Cut the bottom to fit inside the cradle box, over the cleats.
  •   6. Drive screws through the cleats into the cradle bottom.

Assemble the Leg Stands

  •   1. Lay an outside foot piece face down on your work bench.
  •   2. Lay two middle feet on top of the outside foot so their outside ends, top and bottom edges are aligned with the outside foot.

Attach the feet to the bottom of the leg stand.

  •   3. Lay an upright perpendicular to the outside foot between the middle feet. The bottom end of the upright should be flush with the bottom edge of the outside foot.
  •   4. Lay an inside foot over the middle feet and the upright.
  •   5. Glue and clamp the pieces.
  •   6. After the glue dries, lay out a leg stand brace on each side of the upright. Angle the brace so that after it is marked and cut its bottom outside corner will come just 1/16" to 1/8" short of the outside edge of the foot.
  •   7. Mark and cut the angles for the braces.
  •   8. Counterbore holes in the edge of each brace and secure the braces to the upright and middle feet with 2" screws.
  •   9. Use wood plugs to fill the screw holes.
  •   10. Make the second leg stand.

Mill the Leg Stands

The milled leg stand should look like the graphic above.

  •   1. Measure in 2" from one end of the inside foot and make a vertical line. Measure up 3/4" from the bottom and make a horizontal line that intersects the vertical line. Place an outside stretcher on the foot, aligned vertically with the two marks and trace the outline of the stretcher onto the foot. Rout a 1/2" deep mortise as indicated by the lines to accept the outside stretcher. Do the same on the opposite side of the inside foot.
  •   2. Measure up 2 1/4", 5 1/2" and 9" from the top of the inside foot on the upright. Make horizontal lines at each mark. Vertically align a tension bar on the bottom line, centred from left to right across the upright and trace the outline of the bar on the upright. Do the same with the centre stretcher on the middle line and the second tension bar on the top line. Rout a 1/4" deep mortise in each marked area to receive the tension bars and centre stretcher.
  •   3. Measure up 35 1/2" from the top of the inside foot on the upright. Make a mark centred from left to right on the upright. Bore a 1 1/4" hole centred on the mark. This hole will receive the swing dowels.

Prepare for the Fasteners

Connecting bolts and cross dowels make sturdy and attractive joints.

  •   1. Find the centre of each tension bar mortise and bore a 3/8" diameter hole through the upright at each centre mark.
  •   2. Place each tension bar in its mortise and mark the bar's end for a 2" deep by 1/4" diameter hole. Bore the hole in the end of each bar. This hole will receive the threaded end of the connecting bolts after they pass through the leg stands.
  •   3. Measure along the bottom edge of a tension bar 5/8" in from its end and make a mark, centred left to right on the bar. Bore a 13/32" diameter by 1 1/8" deep stopped hole centred on the mark. This hole will receive the cross dowels for the connecting bolts. Bore similar holes in each end of both tension bars.
  •   4. Assemble the leg stands and cradle. Make any necessary adjustments to the assembly.
  •   5. Bore a 3/8" diameter hole through the leg stands into the outside end panel uprights. Cut two pieces of 3/8" dowel to use as stops in the holes. The stops can be used to keep the cradle from rocking.
  •   6. Use a router or sander to round over all edges of the cradle box and leg stands.
Good idea: Mark the ends of the tension bars and their respective mortises with letters or numbers.

Construction Notes

To assemble the cradle:

  •   • Place the cradle box on the floor.
  •   • Place the leg stands over the swing dowels.
  •   • Insert a tension bar into the right leg stand and a cross dowel into the stopped hole from step 3.
  •   • Insert the connecting bolt through the hole in the leg stand and and thread it two to three turns into the cross dowel. Do the same with the second tension bar.
  •   • Attach the tension bar to to the left leg stand as you did to the right.
  •   • Put the stretchers in place and tighten the bolts going into the tension bars.
  •   • Stand the cradle up and you're done.

Sand and Finish the Cradle

Sand the cradle as needed. You can finish the cradle in any manner you choose, using paint, stain and a clear topcoat or with an oil finish.

Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please visit our terms of use.

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