I have a relative who is expecting her first baby. I know moms use many creative ways to help the baby fall asleep. That motivated me to make a Pallet Rocking Bench With Detachable Cradle. I thought it would be something that will be more practical than a set of onesies that the baby outgrows in seconds.
When the baby outgrows this, you just pull the cradle off, take the brackets off, and you're back to an adult-styled two-person bench. The convertible cradle uses NO HARDWARE to install it to the bench. I found a picture on Pinterest of a rocking bench with a permanent cradle built in. When the baby outgrows it, I didn't want her to have a single chair with a gigantic purse holder. :-/ So I tweaked the inspiration and made this Pallet Rocking Bench With Detachable Cradle.
Pallet Rocking Bench With Detachable Cradle Dimensions:
48" seat width. 20" seat depth.
48" back width. 18" back height, with 2" extra for a gap between back and seat.
Legs: 24" long, with front legs at 17" center-to-center (measuring from the bolts), and back legs 16" center-to-center. The rocker feet will add about 2", so this is built for a taller person. My 6'1" husband loves it, and it is for his sister who is 5'10" tall.
Rocker feet - They're the width of the boards, minus the arc/sanding. Started out at 36". I'd suggest you find a good rocker, use a board or cardboard and copy the curve. I just figured it out by trial and error. :-D
Armrest height - not going to supply it because it's not what I liked, but is appropriate to wedge the cradle in. If you make this bench WITHOUT the cradle, put the arms up at the height you want - you'd have to cut the legs longer to accommodate, though.
Support board across rocker feet = 47"ish. I didn't measure. I just put it over the feet, used a pencil, marked it and cut it.
Prep: I ran all the boards through a DeWalt 3-blade power planer, and then used a Porter Cable planer-joiner to square up the ends of the boards.
How I assembled this Pallet Rocking Bench With Detachable Cradle:
I first had to cut four stringer pieces to give it those comfortable curves for your butt and back. I used a folding aluminum camp chair as my model. I simply clamped one of four pallet stringers that were sort of "U"-shaped on one side, and flat on the other. I used a pencil and traced the arch, then moved it to the 2nd half of the board and did it again.
I used a Milwaukee Angle Grinder with a 36-grit sanding wheel to obtain the curves. The wood was too tough for a band saw (broke two blades), a Sawzall, and a jigsaw, but the angle grinder went through it like butter. :-D When all four pieces were curved to my liking, I framed them out.
I added more support boards between the end boards and had to curve them too, so I used finger-joined engineered Redwood since it would be easier to sand. I installed it all together with 3" exterior deck screws.
I attached the back to the seat with 3" deck screws when both were framed out. I made sure that the back and seat were greater than a 90-degree angle for comfort. I carved out the rocker feet using the Milwaukee again. I clamped them together and drilled holes in the middle of the boards using the spread of the legs based on my folding camp chair.
I used a drill press for accuracy. I clamped the leg supports and figured where I wanted the bolts (see dimensions above), and used the drill press again. I mounted it all together with Nylock nuts and bolts, using washers in between to prevent the bolts from simply pulling through the Maple. I mounted the legs to the seat and dry-fitted the armrests.
I used more of those U-shaped pine stringers and connected the armrests to the back, holding that >90-degree angle and using them to reinforce the stability of the back.
Then it was on to the fun part - installing the wood onto this Pallet Rocking Bench With Detachable Cradle. I used mostly maple and very pale pine for the seats. I cut them flush to the back of the seat as my first measurement. I cut them little proud to the front of the seat. I sanded them over so they'd be smooth against everyone's legs.
I used two live-edge boards (bark and funky, uneven edges). I wanted them to be consistently spaced. I used roofing nails to space the seat and back boards. I wanted to keep the spacing consistent, even around the funky edges. I took one of the boards that were going to be adjacent and clamped it in place with the spacer nails. I then clamped the live-edge board over it, using spacer nails for the other side. I traced the outline of the edge, tilting the pencil at about a 45-degree angle to create that space like the nails would give. I cut it out on a band saw and smoothed the edges and curves with a Dremel rotary tool and a sanding wheel.
I installed the boards with 1 5/8" stainless steel deck screws, just because I like how it looks. I pre-drilled ALL the screw holes and used a counter-sinking bit on all the holes as well.
The final part was lots of sanding to roll over all the edges. This will be around a little kid eventually, and pointy edges don't agree with them very well. :-D
Pallet Rocking Bench With Detachable Cradle- have to build the cradle now:
The cradle was straightforward. First, I built a simple box. I then used a piece of board that I cut at a 20-degree angle to create the outward-leaning angle on the upper boards. I curved it using a French curve set and cut the boards out with a jigsaw. I used some of the internal shapes on the french curve and carved openings to let in a little light so the cradle wouldn't be dark. I glued all the joints and used screws to secure.
The brackets are made out of a single 40" stringer that I cut in half, then cut down on a table saw to 1 1/2" wide, leaving 2" on one end to form a small "L" shape. I cut some of the trimmed-off portion into two cubes and installed them onto the other end, in a reverse "L" shape.
These can be installed by simply tilting them to the side, sliding them through the gap between the back and seat assembly, and drop in place securely. They hold the cradle tightly, but the cradle and brackets can be removed in under 15 seconds. No hardware necessary!
I'm happy with how this Pallet Rocking Bench With Detachable Cradle came out. :-D I don't think the person I'm giving it to will like it. She's got very expensive tastes, but at least I tried.
I hope this inspires you to have some fun and turn those inspirations into your creations!