Serving Tray

I made a small serving tray to hold my teapot and cup. The design is from Fine Woodworking, which I adapted to use only hand tools. I also made a few other minor design choices that altered from the plan.

The completed tray.

Here's an overview of the build process:

The frame of the tray is simple, as you can see here. The colored dots are used to keep track of what goes where.

Another view of the rough cut. The plans call for an 18 or 20 inch long tray, but I reduced the size to 16 inches so it is a perfect fit for my teapot and cup.

Here is a detail of the cuts. Once the lines are sawed, I use a chisel to pare down to the lines and square off.

In order to clear out the joint, I sawed a bunch of lines so it’s easy to chisel out the waste.

And this is the rough fit for the top cross pieces.

I used my combination plane to cut 1/8 inch grooves in each side, which is where the panels will fit. The grooves are cut quite deep so that the panels have room to shrink and expand freely.

Each side is angled from top to bottom, which gives an elegant look. I did this with a jack plane.

To cut out the handles on each side, I used a dovetail saw to make a series of cuts and then chiseled them out.

A detail showing the chisel work.

Here are the completed handles.

Each handle is wrapped with blue waxed cord I got from the Maine Thread Company. I’ve only recently discovered how easy it is to wrap cord and I’ve been wrapping things all over the house!

Then I fit the panels. The ends of the ¼ inch panels are rabbeted to fit in the side grooves and shiplapped for the inside edges so no gaps will show with expansion or contraction.

Here’s the dry fit. The plan called for grooves on each end board, as well, for the panels to fit into. I didn’t do that. My panels just butt up against the ends, which I think will work just fine for my needs. This alleviated the need to do a really tiny 1/8 inch stopped groove in each end.

And the glue up.

Now for the scary part: for strength and appearance, small brass pins (1/8 inch diameter and ¾ inch long) are set into each corner of the tray. Here, I’m preparing to drill. It was tricky to figure out how to hold the tray firm.

And then I drilled 16 holes to fit the pins: 8 on the top and 8 on the bottom.

Here is the detail showing the pins in place. I applied three coats of Osmo satin clear TopOil.

And it’s done!

Troy Kitch @troykitch
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