Heirloom Doll Cradle

My grandpa made Rachel a special Christmas present this year — a beautiful, handmade doll cradle. That gift reminded me of the cradle I made for Sarah when we were first married.dollcradle

About 8 years ago, I made Sarah a similar doll cradle out of walnut and oak. I used walnut for the main body of the cradle and oak for the spindles. The contrast between the two woods was striking. After making this project, walnut became my favorite domestic wood. Sarah loved the cradle, and as you can see (right), so did Rachel before she got her own. This was my first major woodworking project, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I followed my grandpa’s pattern to build the cradle. It measures about 19″ tall, 22″ long, and 11″ wide. One of the neat features of the pattern is that the hinges are made out of wood. He made this pattern several years ago and has since built many doll cradles for all of his granddaughters, and now for some of his great granddaughters.

The one he made for Rachel is built from black willow wood, which surprised all of us with how pretty it is. It has a rich golden color to the wood. Willow has pretty grains. It has lots of figure too, since willow grows twisted and gnarly. When wet, the wood is incredibly dense and hard. Dried, it is quite soft. Probably a little harder than pine. Maybe the hardness of poplar? So the next time you are just going to burn or throw away that willow, you might want to take a closer look. Willow makes some beautiful projects.


Black Walnut Cradle

Cradle Made from Willow Wood

Cradle Made from Black Willow


~ by Clearwater Hackle on December 28, 2006.

One Response to “Heirloom Doll Cradle”

  1. This is one of our coolest traditions. I would love to have a picture of all the girls in the family with their cradles. How many do you think there would be total?

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