Anniversary Serving Tray

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Project by Paul Stoops posted 11-08-2014 05:16 PM 7496 views 15 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Seems like this must be the season for Butterflies! After seeing footprints lovely cutting board yesterday, it reminded me to post this serving tray I made recently for my wife to celebrate a recent wedding anniversary.

This tray has an end grain field panel of Peruvian Walnut and Beech using a variation of the Butterfly Board design. I used my CAD program to scale the size and reconfigure the tray from the original square shape, using only half of the original pattern. The tapered rails and skirt were also milled from Peruvian Walnut. The inlays in the rails were made from pieces leftover from the field panel fabrication. The finished tray is about 15” x 21”.

The field panel was made in a unique way— a single block which had the geometric Butterfly Board pattern built into it was resawed on my bandsaw into three identical panels. These panels were subsequently bookmatched side by side by rotating the two outer panels in opposite directions about the center panel. This technique made fabrication much easier with smaller strips to handle and produced exact pattern matching at the bookmarked edges. Some of the edge strips were removed to attain the bookmatching and restore the continuity of the original pattern.

Narrow vertical splines were inset into the miter joints as an accent and provided a way to slightly round the tray corners to prevent handling damage. Horizontal splines were added to the miter joints for reinforcement.

The handles were attached by embedding studs, threaded into the handles, into blind holes with two part epoxy.

A water borne polyurethane, Target Coatings Superclear EM9000sc, was chosen for the high gloss finish of the tray. This finish is frequently used for high quality musical instruments such as guitars, drums, etc. I chose this water clear finish because I wanted to retain the chocolate brown of the Peruvian Walnut and the slightly pinkish tone of the Beech without adding any amber coloration. When I showed this tray during a presentation about its fabrication at our Northwest Woodworkers Association here in Seattle, WA, I was amused at how many of the folks couldn’t resist rubbing the high gloss finish!

I designed the commemorative plaque on the back of the tray and had it fabricated by a local sign shop to dedicate the project to my lovely wife. And best of all, she liked the tray…...... :-) A fun project with a satisfying result!

-- Paul, Auburn, WA

12 comments so far

View Jim Sellers's profile

Jim Sellers

489 posts in 3146 days

#1 posted 11-08-2014 05:47 PM

Very nice tray. I’ve always been in awe over how that pattern was carried out. Beautiful and I’m sure the wife loves you for it.

-- J.C.Sellers, Norcross, Ga. Just cut it right the first time. The best carpenters make the fewest chips.

View hoss12992's profile


4172 posts in 2704 days

#2 posted 11-09-2014 04:00 AM

WOW absolutely amazing

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3569 posts in 4523 days

#3 posted 11-09-2014 05:27 AM


The tray is really lovely. I especially like the added detail on the sides.


-- “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin -- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View abie's profile


914 posts in 4582 days

#4 posted 11-09-2014 04:10 PM

I am dizzy just looking at it
I can’t imagine using it with out spilling something.
Nice. very nice.

-- Bruce. a mind is like a book it is only useful when open.

View MrFid's profile


906 posts in 2715 days

#5 posted 11-09-2014 05:07 PM

Beautiful tray. I like the inlay detail. Very well done… I like the little plaque as well.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View Joe Weaver's profile

Joe Weaver

538 posts in 4497 days

#6 posted 11-09-2014 05:09 PM

wow its beautiful, you have a very lucky wife

-- Joe, Ga

View Ivan's profile


16102 posts in 3678 days

#7 posted 11-09-2014 05:42 PM

As long as you don’t look long enough in it, it’s OK – or else it starts spinning arround.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View Paul Stoops's profile

Paul Stoops

357 posts in 3372 days

#8 posted 11-09-2014 08:51 PM

Thanks to each of you for taking the time to comment on my project. I really appreciate the feedback.

I am amused by your comments regarding getting dizzy just looking at the pattern. The thing that attracted me to the design was the double optical illusion—the square patterns appear to “bulge” out of the surface and there appear to be curved lines in the pattern—neither of which is true! In fact, I entitled my presentation about the tray to the Northwest Woodworkers Association “The Making of an Optical Illusion”.

When I look at the first photo, I am reminded of hot air balloons and Christmas ornaments!

-- Paul, Auburn, WA

View DrDirt's profile


4614 posts in 4553 days

#9 posted 11-10-2014 06:25 PM

Looks terrific – takes quite some time to get the layout/gluing up, when going for the pattern using endgrain.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2984 days

#10 posted 11-10-2014 10:29 PM

Really stunning pattern! You did a wonderful job on this.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View Kopion's profile


17 posts in 2104 days

#11 posted 11-11-2014 04:03 PM

I’m both dizzied and staggered by this thing. So cool! Thanks for sharing.

View WistysWoodWorkingWonders's profile


12821 posts in 3968 days

#12 posted 01-04-2015 07:01 AM

nice piece here. very cool overall…

-- New Project = New Tool... it's just the way it is, don't fight it... :)

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