Curly maple & wenge inlaid Penn State serving tray

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Project by ytsejamr posted 07-19-2010 06:02 PM 4800 views 11 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I had a 4’ section of a wide curly maple board sitting in my shop for a few years now. This seemed like a good use for some of it.

This is a good sized tray. It’s about 24”x15”.

I was real happy with my freehand inlays this time . . . specifically the lion head. I didn’t have many gaps to fill at all.

They’re hard to see, but there are some hand cut dovetails there.

The finish is a few coats of super blond shellac followed by a bunch of sprayed on coats of Target’s satin lacquer (EM6000).

I had never worked with wenge before either. It’s pretty. I was careful because I read that it splinters easily.

My local lumber guy helped me out a lot with this one. I don’t have a band saw, so he re-sawed the wenge to get me 1/2” thick material, plus the thinner part for the inlay. I also brought the inlays back to him to have him run them through his drum sander. Normally, I send my inlays through the planer to get everything flush. But this one was too wide for my planer, and I didn’t feel like sitting there with a hand sander. I also wanted him to use the drum sander rather than his planer . . . I was nervous the figured maple would tear out.

Enough rambling. I like how this one turned out, and apparently others did too . . . I’m being commissioned to make another one for a Christmas present.

11 comments so far

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 4089 days

#1 posted 07-19-2010 06:19 PM

Very nice work! The inlay work is awesome!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View Gnome's profile


93 posts in 3922 days

#2 posted 07-19-2010 06:34 PM

Very smart looking. Crisp, clean, shows off the wood nicely and the inlay lion makes it really special. I like the contrast of very dark to light. Can see it propped up somewhere to show off until you need it to serve. Before I came to this group I wouldn’t have really appreciated what it took to craft this item, but now I know what a great job you did. Learning the different woods and what it takes to work them has helped me appreciate items like this.

-- Gnettie the Gnome

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25937 posts in 4117 days

#3 posted 07-19-2010 06:38 PM

Nice tray. Good call on sanding rather than planing the maple.Tear outs can just ruin a project.
How did you do the inlay? Did you stack the material and cut it at an angle on the scroll saw?

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View ytsejamr's profile


84 posts in 4607 days

#4 posted 07-19-2010 06:47 PM

Thanks. I did the inlay with the ol’ freehand router method. I’ve been practicing with it for the past few years on various projects. It’s one of those things that takes practice (and patience).

Marc has a good video on it:


View ChuckV's profile (online now)


3358 posts in 4539 days

#5 posted 07-20-2010 12:58 AM

That is a great looking tray. I am just getting started with inlay, so I have some appreciation of what you have accomplished – wonderful!

-- "Join the chorus if you can. It'll make of you an honest man." - I. Anderson

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 4786 days

#6 posted 07-20-2010 03:51 AM

Very nicely done. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4589 days

#7 posted 07-20-2010 03:53 AM

Great tray super work.


View CSlabon's profile


302 posts in 4289 days

#8 posted 07-20-2010 10:04 AM

Great project. WE ARE…PENN STATE!

View Hayabusa's profile


173 posts in 3892 days

#9 posted 07-20-2010 11:42 AM

beatyful exercise
and very useful

View Ironag's profile


42 posts in 3881 days

#10 posted 10-18-2012 11:51 AM

Beautiful workmanship! Is the bottom also 1/2” stock to accommodate the inlay? I haven’t tried inlays in any of my trays because I usually use a 1/4” plywood bottom to keep weight down. My PSU buddy is going to love it when I send him a link to your tray.

-- Chris- Homebuilder and Woodworker, Love the smell of cut wood.

View ytsejamr's profile


84 posts in 4607 days

#11 posted 10-18-2012 12:00 PM

Yeah, the bottom is 1/2”, rabbetted around the bottom so it fits in a 1/4” groove. It didn’t seem too heavy to me. Though I have a tray that has ceramic tile for the bottom, so everything is relative to that.

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