Wednesday, December 21

 Completing the base plate of Gary's cradle is my mission today.  I start by taking the glue-up from yesterday out of the clamps and surface planing the pieces to 1/32" thicker than the 3/4" finished dimension. 

This dresses yesterday's glue joint nicely and leaves a small enough excess that I can remove it with a drum sander without having to run it through 100 times.

The pieces then go back to the assembly room for the final glue-up.
 While the glue sets up I work on sanding the rocker assembly.
 When the glue is set up enough to work with the panel I trim it to finished size on the table saw.  My monster cross-cut sled is a big help in trimming and squaring large panels like this.
 Then it's over to the big drum sander.  I sand both sides to smooth them down and remove any ridge that may have developed at the glue-joint.
 When that's done I set up my hand-held router with a 1/4" radius cove bit and route the decorative edge.  I do this in multiple steps in order to get a nice smooth finish to the cut.  End grain is especially prone to tearing out if too much is removed at once.
 The final step of machining the plate is to route out a pocket on the underside.  Gary has bought several of these cradles from us - one each time he is notified of an impending grandchild - and he has us do this special thing for him.  This pocket will house a special note to his grandchild and is covered my a plaque.  In time the grandchild will be encouraged to remove the plaque and find the letter from his/her Grandpa.

I use double sided tape to hold the template in place.  The clamps just set the tape well while I set up the router, they will be removed when I'm ready to go.
 I made a template for this and I use the router equipped with a template guide and a straight router bit.
 I ran into a bit of a problem.  The 1/2" shank router bit isn't long enough to reach down far enough to get the pocket 1/2" deep.  The shoulder hits against the guide sleeve.  I remedied the problem by switching to a 1/4" shank bit, installing a collet adapter and running the bit down as far as I dared.

This bit is old, kind of dull, and the 1/4" shank flexed just a bit so it howled and hollered as it cut through this hard wood, but it got the job done, and it looks pretty good.
All that remains now is to do the final sanding and this part is done.  I will have to bore holes through is for screws that hod the sides and ends to it later, so I'll hold off on that final sanding for a bit: I'd just have to do it again after drilling the holes.

Next up: side pieces.

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