Cradled Wood Panel Building

I have successfully built a few more cradled wood panels.  This time, I started completely from scratch.  That means measuring and miter cutting each piece of wood by hand.  Then glueing, clamping, sanding and sealing everything together. It took me a few tries, but I think I have settled in on my own method of how to build a solid cradle that will stand the test of time.

Below are two 12″ x 12″ x 2″ cradles that were built a week apart.  You can see the difference in quality between my first hand-built panel(bottom) and my last(top).  On the first, I could not get the frame properly square because of the rush-cut wood pieces.  So, the corners were either offset or had a gap.  I also used nails in addition to the wood glue to secure the panel to the cradle.  The results.. an ugly, uneven cradle that will require alot of extra prep work to make it paintable.

After building two other imperfect panels during that week, I learned from my mistakes and ended up with the top panel.  All of the corners are perfectly mated.  There is no panel-to-cradle “lip” or overlap, and I used only glue to bond the panel and cradle together.  A little bit of finish sanding and this panel is ready to be sealed, gessoed and painted!12x12 comparison
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I had the same experience while building my larger panels.  It is the larger panels, however, that are the most cost effective to make.  Much more time and material is required for additional bracing, but the investment will pay off.  The majority of my new artwork will be done using these large and extra-large panels.  The only improvement that I will make is to use real wood panels such as pine, oak or walnut instead of hardboard.

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12″x12″x2″ panels(front 2), 24″x48″x2″ panel(middle), 36″x48″x3″ panel(rear)

I am, by no means, a master art cradle builder.  But, until my artwork becomes in-demand and I can afford to spend several hundred dollars on a manufactured cradled panel, I’m going to keep building my own.  Plus, there is a higher level of satisfaction knowing that I created a work of art that was made entirely by my own hands.

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