Monday, March 28, 2011

Baby's Cradle: Update #2

I find it interesting when I make something the second time. The learning that occurred the first time significantly decreases the amount of time that it takes to make the thing the second time. This is true of the second side of the baby cradle. I spent more time thinking about how I was going to make the first side then I actually did making it. No, that is not exactly true. The cutting and drilling and assembly did not take a long time. The sanding of the stiles that were on size for the holes seemed to take forever.

After completing the first side of the cradle I thought about how I could expedite the sanding process. My Manufacturing Engineering mentality kicked in. Sanding by hand is not efficient. I needed something that would speed up the turning of the spindle without causing me to suffer carpal tunnel pain! I thought of using my electric drill. This would be an improvement because it would spin the spindles much fast than I could by hand and I could simply hold the sand paper. The problem would be holding the drill . I would have to create a jig to hold it while I sanded each end. That seemed to be more trouble than it was worth.

I discussed the issue with my wife. She suggested that instead of using the drill, I could use my drill press. Brilliant idea! It goes to show that when someone looks at a problem with a fresh set of eyes and an unbiased point of view they can come up with a new and novel solution that was not obvious to me before because I constrained by the idea of a drill press as being something that just drill holes.

I tried out the drill press by marking the distance that goes into the hole,5/8 of and inch and inserted that length in the drill chuck and tightened it. When I took the spindle out of the chuck the marks that were left would be hidden inside the hole. I reinserted the spindle inside the chuck. When the spindle was held firmly inside the chuck I turned the machine on and held the 60 grit sandpaper against the marked out end of the spindle. I counted out 30 seconds and stopped. When I tried to put the spindle into the hole it slid down to the bottom of the hole with gentle pressure.

It was a good fit. It took me about two minutes to sand each spindle so that it would fit into the hole. That is less than half and hour for all twelve spindles. It took over half and hour to sand each spindle by hand, six hours in all to sand twelve spindles. That is over 90 percent improvement in efficiency!

With both sides done, it should be a relatively easy task to complete this project.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Baby's Cradle : Update

I have finished one side of the cradle. It seemed easy enough in concept. The cliche, "the devil is in the details" was true enough.

It just looks like four pieces of wood with a bunch of round sticks placed evenly inside which is exactly what it is. It was the details that spun it into a long labored process. Cutting the frame to length and cutting the lap joints with my mitre jig was not difficult and did not take a lot of time.

The problem started when I drilled the 3/8 inch holes for the the 3/8 inch stiles. The fact that this might be a problem did not occur to me until I tried to fit the stiles into  holes that that are the exact same diameter. They didn't fit. I had to sand each stile until I could just slide it into the drilled hole then assemble the entire frame and glue it all together. The sanding took hours.

Tomorrow I an going to start the other side of the cradle. I some ideas that might expedite the sanding but  will have to see how effective the are. We will just have to see.

Sometimes we just fail to see the forest for the trees, another cliche but in this case, true.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Baby's Cradle

I have been remiss in posting these last few weeks. It has been unavoidable. The last week of February I was preparing for a trip to China. I spent the first week or so in China. Last week I was so swamped with work and trying to re-adjust to being in our time zone that I have not had time for posting. While I was in China I had no access to the blog site. China blocks most social networking sites. Why that is would be a whole series of posts so leave that for another time.

Before i went to China I had been working on a cradle that I am making for my youngest daughter who is due in June of this year. I wanted to make something for my first grand child so I offered to make a cradle as well as the crib. Strange as it may sound, the cradle is considerably more complex than the crib will be.
The plans that I bought were for an old fashioned cradle but my daughter did not like the design so my wife and I changed it to suit my daughter's taste so the finished product will look significantly different that this picture. The plans are good for giving general dimensions and the attachment of the joints. Other than that, everything else is different.

I wanted to get as much done before I left for China so that I would need fell that I was behind while I was away. I had glued up the bottom supports for the stiles that hold up the cradle.
The joints for the stiles and the base are mortise and tenon joints but I do not have a mortise jig so I cut the mortise into the two halves of the base then glued them together. I could cut the tenons using the tenoning jig that I had made for the kitchen doors that I made for our kitchen.

Once I had the base glued together and the tenons cut I made a dry fit to see how the cradle supports and the base went together.

To my relief they went together nicely.

I also cut out the ends for the cradle and cut up the pieces for one side.

Unfortunately, that is about as far as I got before I left for China. The project was on my mind while I was away so I worked on it last Monday, the day after I returned from China. I finished all the pieces for the stand, then pinned and glued everything together.

So that is where I am today. The stand for the cradle is glued together and I am working on the sides for the cradle itself. Hopefully that will be done within the next week and and I can assemble the cradle. One that is done it will just be a matter of sanding, painting and assembling the cradle to the stand. I hope to have this done by the end of March.

I would like to write a series of posts about China. I think that I have a few interesting things to say about that subject but that will have to wait until the next post which will be a lot sooner than the last one.