Monday, May 15, 2006

Handmade Antique Kittinger baby cradle repro = arrgghhhhh

For the past 3 weeks, we have endured the singular joys of a man with a MISSION! Of course, this is far better than zombie-man, so we all bite our lips and feed him well.

Have you ever met a man on a MISSION? He has a particularly Tim Allen-esque approach to ~the project~. Well, to be fair, Hubby's better looking, and not near so disastrous, although I DO feel a little Al-ish from time to time, minus the flannel button down. ~ :-D.

First, lets detail the project in question ~

This is a Kittinger antique. It is a baby cradle that I suspect was more along the size of a bassinette than a true cradle. Either that or babies were a heck of a lot smaller back in the day. And of course, that is a very real possibility. Unfortunately, this is the only existing picture that we could find of said cradle, making it extremely difficult to take proportion off of it. So naturally, Hubby has a tremendous desire to make it. Something about the challenge, the hunt, the fact that the kid is now 5 weeks old and is still sleeping in a portable playpen, because (and I quote) "it took a little longer than I thought it might." ( All I can say is, my sister had better appreciate this thing, it has taken him almost 200 hours, and it isn't even stained or finished yet, that's my job, along with the custom-made cushion, waterproof cover, custom-made sheets, and hanging drapery off of the spreader bar.)

All said, the handcut dovetailed ribs, the spokeshaved basket rim, even the custom-designed bearings have not been the hold up on this piece. Believe it or not, it has been, and still is,( will post finished pics when it's done) the joinery on the legs that has been an absolute nightmare to construct with the proper amount of strength.

This design broke slightly out from the dovetailed joint FOUR times! ( hehe, WHAT"S the definition of insanity?? ;-P ).

The only thing that we can think of is that the width and depth of the dovetail is not deep enough.

These are the roughed-out finials that will hold the piece together up through the spreader bar on top.

This is the basket, spreader bar and both of the uprights.
Notice how thick the basket rim is, and how heavy the ribs look.

Now check that out! A little edging on the ribs and some well-done spoke-shaving, and of course, the endless SANDDDDDIIIIINNGGGG. Notice the lightened appearance, and the gorgeous dovetailed detailing on the ribs to rim joinery.

This is a rough version of how it will look upon completion. (obviously taken before any edging or spokshaving took place, makes a big difference, eh?)

This has been one of those staying up till 5 am for 3 weeks straight projects.
If anyone out there knows of any better joinery for the legs in this application, please DO be forthcoming ~ oh how we'll ALL grin in relief!

And now for the little ditty ~
(sing it to Mellencamp's "Little ditty 'bout Jack & Diane")

Hubby & Red

Little ditty, about Hubby & Red
2 American kids hangin out, makin a bed.
Hubby gonna be a woodworkin' star,
Red's big ideas--in Hubby's garage, right on par ~

Suckin' up paint fumes outside the garage door.
Drawing up antiques, doin' repro's, custom, and more.
Hubby say, "Hey Red, let's do a Kittinger one - off,
So what if there's only one view, hey baby, don't scoff "~

Hubby says, oh yeah life goes on
This'll be an heirloom piece,Long after you & I's gone
Say uh, oh yeah , one of a kind, Long after you & I's gone.
They work on.

Hubby sits back, collects his thoughts for the moment
Scratches his head and remakes the leg joint
"Well then there Red, why the heck ain't this workin? "
Red, she says "Baby, you been missin the point"

Hubby says oh yeah, Life goes on
This'll be an heirloom piece, Long after I'm gone
Say uh, oh yeah, Long after I'm gone.
He works on.

Gonna let it rock, let it roll
Let the bearings run true, without any pull.
Clamp down the joints, as long as you can,
Spokeshave and sanding, and carving by hand.

Oh yeah, life goes on,
this'll be an heirloom piece long after we're gone
Oh yeah, this'll be an heirloom piece long after we're gone.

Little ditty, about Hubby and Red
2 American kids just makin' a bed.



Hunter521 said...

Can you drill holes and use dows instead of dove tails?

redhead83402 said...

Actually, you know, thats a really good idea. You mean the way you would with a biscuit joinery?, or pin the dovetails? or more like flush overlapping edges and then pin the overlap?

Gorilla Bananas said...

That basket needs some fruit, Ms Red. Life goes on indeed. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on.

Hunter521 said...

I was thinking in the lines of like how you would do a biscuit.
I would think that putting a dow through the dovetail would cause more problems than its worth. Most of the dovetail would end up as sawdust when you drill the hole for the dow(s) anyway.
One large dow per joint ought to do the trick. But, two mid-sized dows in each would probably be better.

BeckaJo said...

I have no suggestions on how to make the legs...but man oh man is that one amazing peice of woodwork!

redhead83402 said...

GB ~ lol! ASAP it gets done, whammo-blammo, my sister will provide a basketful ~ :-D

Hunter ~ agree with you on the doweled dovetails, and it doesn't seem like an overlap would have enough strength. As to the dowels, what do you think, side application, or down through the top?

beckajo ~ Thank you!!! Hubby is also making a steamer / hope chest with 4 secret compartments ~ I will put that one up next. It is truly a humdinger!

Hunter521 said...

I was thinking in the ends of the joint. But now that I look at the picture closer, maybe you could do a mortise and tennon joint with a dowel through the side for added support (so it won't pull out). Either of these two ideas should work.

BTW, It is a beautiful piece of work!

SafeTinspector said...

Better joinery? *brushes off hands* That's a job for me.

You need to use two metal plates, one on each side of the join.
Make sure you are using ferrous metal.

Wind a bunch of wire around one of them and then hook it up to a powerful battery. This should turn it into an electromagnet, which will attract the other side of the join.

My job is done!