How to Build a Homemade Baby Cradle

Building a homemade baby cradle will not only save you money, but it will serve as a functional and charming heirloom that will soothe a newborn and can be passed down through generations. This quick and easy project can be inexpensively and sturdily built using a combination of oak hardwood and plywood. With a few screws, woodworker's glue and varnish, you can build and finish a homemade cradle in two weekends.

Tools and Materials

All measurements are thickness by width by length in inches for oak hardwood unless otherwise specified as plywood.

  • 2 end panels of  ¾x22x15 pieces of plywood
  • 2 bottom rocker boards 1x4½x29
  • 2 top rail boards 1x5x28
  • 4 upright pieces 1x1½x29¼
  • 2 center rail boards 1x3-1/4x20
  • 2 cleat pieces 3/4x3/4x16½
  • 2 lower side rails 3/4x3-1/4x36½
  • 2 upper top rails 3/4x2x36-1/2
  • 32 inner slats ¼x1x7-1/4
  • 68 slat spacers ¼x5/16x1¼
  • 2 lower rail cleats ¾x¾x36½
  • 1 cradle bottom ½x18¼x36-7/16 piece of plywood
  • Assorted wood screws
  • Router
  • Straight groove router bit
  • Sandpaper if grits from 100 to 220
  • Varnish

Step 1 - Measure and Cut Wood

Begin by cutting all the pieces in the bill of materials out of either Red or White oak to the sizes suggested. Some of these pieces will be modified such as the rocker boards, top rail boards and plywood end panels.

Step 2 - Shape Pieces

Attach the two bottom rocker boards together with double-sided masking tape. With a pencil and a bowed piece of 1/8-inch piece of wood, design and mark out an arch along the bottom of the bottom rocker boards. Carefully band saw along the curved line to cut out the bottom rocker boards. Attach the two top rail boards in the same manner, mark out an arch, and carefully band saw a curve along the top of the top rail boards.

Step 3 - Build Two End Frames

Using the two upright pieces (D),one center rail (E), the curved top and bottom rails (B and C) form the 2 end frames. Glue and clamp these together securely. When glue has dried thoroughly, clamp each piece to a work table, and using a router with a straight grooving bit route out a ¾ inch groove in the upper inside frame. Apply a thin bead of glue and clamp a fitted plywood end panel (A) into this groove.

Step 4 - Assemble Side Panels

Router grooves in lower and upper side rails (G and H), apply spacers (J) and slats (I) to form railings for the home made baby cradle.

Step 5 - Affix Cleats and Cradle Bottom

Screw and glue cleats (K) to bottom of side panels and end frames. Fit plywood bottom (L) into cleats. It is not necessary to glue or screw bottom piece into cleats as it may be necessary to remove and replace it in the future.

Step 6 - Apply Finish

Finish sanding the entire baby cradle with sandpaper, working from 100 to 220 grit. Wipe clean to remove all dust. Begin applying a 25 to 75 percent solution of varnish and minerial spirits, and finish with a final coat of 100 percent varnish.