After playing with dolls all day, young children will understand that it's bedtime, at least for the dolls and stuffed animals. Giving them a doll cradle will reinforce the routines of going to bed and finishing the day. You can easily build a wooden doll cradle with relatively inexpensive supplies, even if you have little woodworking experience. As the cradle will not support people, but only lightweight dolls, its structure is more forgiving than other furniture.
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Variations on a Box
If you reduce a basic doll cradle into its simplest shapes, you'll notice that it roughly resembles a rectangular box. In order for the cradle to rock, the bottom of the box must have smoothly curved elements. At the top, the head and foot of the cradle may raise slightly higher than the sides to give it a more bedlike look. If you make your own cradle design, start by measuring how large a "box" you'll need to comfortably accommodate the doll or dolls. Extend the pieces of wood at the head and foot of the cradle, giving them gently curved bottoms.
For a slightly more complex cradle design, you can fashion the cradle's rockers separately from the main section of the cradle. If you opt for this tack, you can build the cradle's bed as a rectangular box. For a decorative touch, you might taper the side walls outward slightly. Cut two boards down to size in the shape of curved rockers, each fitted to the shorter sides of the cradle.
In order to build a rocking cradle, it's imperative to cut a few curves for the rockers. As you'll already require a saw suitable for cutting curves, you might also add some curves along the top edges of the cradle. A gentle arc or double arc along the head and foot of the cradle gives the structure an inviting, cosy look. Look at photographs of doll furniture and cottage-style home furnishings for ideas. When cutting the curves, be sure to sand all edges thoroughly; this will ensure smooth rocking and prevent splinters.
For the more experienced woodworker, a doll cradle is a wonderfully simple project, making it a great opportunity to practice advanced decorative techniques. For example, you might use interesting and decorative joinery techniques, such as dovetail joints, to fit together the sides of the cradle. If you enjoy wood turning, you can incorporate spindles or small bed posts into the design.
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