Walnut Herringbone Tray

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Project by TheGreatJon posted 01-04-2016 07:46 PM 1271 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It’s been a few months since I had anything worth showing off, but here we go!

My sister called me up a while back and told me about a horrible ordeal that she was going through. She had been searching the internet for hours to find a serving tray that she liked. She claimed everything available online was ugly and expensive. The poor dear.

She innocently asked me how much could the wood in these trays possibly cost. I gave her a rough estimate and she promptly “offered” to pay me triple the cost of wood for me to make a serving tray for her. I was caught in the trap and was too cowardly to gnaw off my arm… plus I’d never attempted a project like this, so it would be something new.

Fast forward six months and we were out visiting family for Christmas. While we were there I handed off her completed tray and she gave me my $45 after a quick “Ooh, that turned out great! Thanks!”. She probably even felt generous about it. (Did I mention she’s a little sister?) I definitely didn’t get her anything else for Christmas.

Anyway, it was a fun project. It wasn’t perfect, but I like the way it turned out. I was a bit overeager while glueing up the base pattern, and ended up with a few gaps. I also got a little cavalier while cutting out the sides. I ended up with a significant notch cut into the side of one of the handles and had to grab the Dremel. The handles now have a swoopy sculpted kind of look that wasn’t really part of my original design. The last picture shows this, although not well because it is just cropped out of a larger shot. The whole thing was done from a cut off of a 4/4” walnut slab. The cutoff had about half heartwood and half sapwood. The base is all pulled from the sapwood section, with pretty fun variation in grain and texture.

Again, I was happy with the final product. I think I’ll make a few more now that I’ve got the process down and I’ve had a few “lesson learned” moments.


-- This is not the signature line you are looking for.

5 comments so far

View ChrisK's profile


2051 posts in 4057 days

#1 posted 01-04-2016 08:09 PM

Very nice. Looks good in the pictures. The handle shape looks great.

How did you glue the herringbone together?

-- Chris K

View TheGreatJon's profile


348 posts in 2209 days

#2 posted 01-05-2016 01:11 AM

The pattern was done with 1/8” thick pieces that I resawed on the band saw. I glued them to a 1/4” plywood base. I didn’t like doing it that way, but at the time I couldn’t think of another way to do it… and it was only supposed to be a $45 tray anyway. Haha.

If I make more, I think I’ll make a jig that matches the outer profile (two triangles) so that I can glue up thick pieces, kind of like a cutting board. I would then resaw the entire glue up down to 1/4” layers that could be used in several trays.

That makes perfect sense in my head but may not have come out clearly. Let me know if I should stop typing and draw a picture.

-- This is not the signature line you are looking for.

View Ivan's profile


16529 posts in 3843 days

#3 posted 01-05-2016 11:07 AM

Nice beveled shape of sides and also good looking bottom pattern.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View XrayJay's profile


272 posts in 2955 days

#4 posted 01-05-2016 12:22 PM

Angled trays and boxes always are neat. Something I hesitate trying one day. The handles and everything else looks great.

Funny story about your sister. It’s funny how easy people think these projects are made.

-- Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might,... because there is no work in the grave...Ecclesiastes 9:10

View TheGreatJon's profile


348 posts in 2209 days

#5 posted 01-05-2016 03:08 PM

It s funny how easy people think these projects are made.

A co worker just saw a picture of it and commented on how nice it looked. Then he said “Man, that’s one of those things that would be at least $45 at Pottery Barn.” Verbatim. Hahahaha.

-- This is not the signature line you are looking for.

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