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  • Cradleboard construction

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone out there could give me a tip or two on cradleboard construction. I'm attempting to make a few to get practice on before the next little one comes, so I'll probably give away or sell the boards. The style I'm going for is for lower and eastern great lakes similar to delaware or seneca. It's not the actual board construction I'm having difficulties with, but the head board and those nearly 90 degree angles they have. I'm steam bending the wood, but 9 times out of ten they break. I'll usually put the straight pieces of wood on a pot and cover it with tin foil where I'm bending, then let it steam for about and hour and a half. When the times up I'll pull one out and clamp a thin piece of metal to the area thats going to be bent, then slowly bend it around a piece of wood that has the desired angle, take off the clamps and put them and the metal on the other side that needs to be bent. So far I've only gotten like one that is satisfactory out of like 15 or so pieces I've attempted, and am hoping to find out a way that could improve my chances so I don't waste so much wood.

  • #2
    I don't know anything about making that style of cradleboard.

    But I do know that to make OUR style of traditional cradleboard, it has to be a CERTAIN kind of wood taken at a CERTAIN time of year, or else you will get breakage instead of a good bend.
    ...it is what it is...

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    • #3
      Build a steam box to steam the entire piece. (There are tons of instructions on how to build one on the internet.) If the wood is dry too near the bend area, there will not be sufficient delamination between the layers of wood fibers. The bend will be too stressed and crack.

      Also make sure you have a continuous grain running the entire length piece you're bending. Knots and cross grain cuts can lead to splitting.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the tips, I'll look into steam box construction and pay closer attention to the grain. Much appreciated!

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        • #5
          Thank you, OL Wise One! Makes perfect sense.

          Ours we just soak in water. Live and Learn!
          ...it is what it is...

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          • #6
            Got two perfect headboards the other day. This time I made sure that the whole of the board was being steamed. I also think what helped was that I steamed it, bent one side, put it back in and steamed it some more, pulled it out, bent the other side and the one I already did prior. I think before why I lost so many pieces was that I tried to do it all in one take and the board cooled down too much to bend sufficiently. Once again, thanks for the tips!

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            • #7
              A good wood for that part of a cradle board is ash! It spits lenghtwise in good ways and then it bends well with heat and steam.
              There are many that split the layers/sections of wood with a sledge hammer and then steam the piece they need. I watched a basket maker do just that, taking green wood from a fresh cut tree that was about 8 feet long and smash the surface repeatedly with a 10 pound sledg hammer, at first I doubted what would happen, then my jaw dropped as he was able to pull sections off that were about 2 inches wide and about 1/2 an inch thick and yes 8 feet long. He has done this for about 50 years and he says his family has done this for centuries. His family makes baskets from ash that I can only dream of! He then takes these pieces and stacks them and hits them again till he gets slices that are less that a 1/4 inch thick to make his baskets.
              Oh ash grows all over and sometimes is even a pain in the yard!
              Listen to my heart, not just my mouth! The most powerfull thing we can do is,,,share,,, if we don't it dies with us.

              It is the year of the bear, I am sharpening my claws and will no longer tollerate harrassment.

              Born in Winnipeg raised in the Pikwakanagan, Deutschland was never home! Army brat that had no choice in a parents duties to home and country. I Too Serve our flag and work for the uniform.
              Stand behind our troops or stand IN FRONT of them.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Swedishfish View Post
                Got two perfect headboards the other day.

                Yippee!


                Originally posted by Swedishfish View Post
                ...thanks for the tips!

                I pass it along to my undergrad sculpture prof. Gotta respect a woman with a miter saw and a planer.

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                • #9
                  Wow, smashed it?? Guess I'll have to try that trick sometime outta my own curiosity. Just gotta go look for some ash now!

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                  • #10
                    Remember to do this with fresh cut, the greener and wetter the better!
                    support it well too so that there is minmal bounce, you do not want to clobber yourself in the process!
                    He always did 8 footers and I never once saw a problem. He got strips down to a great art for basketry, right down to the wee trim strips, all hand dyed and then wrapped to a point where I couldn't find the starts or ends, he hid it so well!
                    His handles are from two inch wide strips and he even bent them in a stream in the flowing current, leaving them there for days. I asked wh not steam, his answer was, what's the rush?
                    Listen to my heart, not just my mouth! The most powerfull thing we can do is,,,share,,, if we don't it dies with us.

                    It is the year of the bear, I am sharpening my claws and will no longer tollerate harrassment.

                    Born in Winnipeg raised in the Pikwakanagan, Deutschland was never home! Army brat that had no choice in a parents duties to home and country. I Too Serve our flag and work for the uniform.
                    Stand behind our troops or stand IN FRONT of them.

                    Comment

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