Drying Tray

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Project by RGtools posted 07-04-2011 11:43 PM 3241 views 5 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I needed a way to give my bench a quick workout to test the modifications I have been doing on it. This is the first of MANY drying trays that I need to make for my wife to dry herbs and seeds. They will eventually have a rack (think of Krenovs’ saw horses, with more rails) that will allow more aeration to speed the drying process.

I am pleased with the size as it fits nicely on a counter-top but is not too heavy to pick up one handed, even when full of wet herbs. I also like the single dovetail construction on the sides (thanks Julio…your marker is PERFECT for that application…you got so many details right) since it goes together quick and should be able to take a lifetime of pounding. The bottoms are nailed on and can be removed in case the cloth ever wears out. The rails in the front and back are thinned down and cut a little short to help with aeration when left on a counter top. All the edges are lovingly broken with my custom smoother, and I left this project without a finish for now but may decide to add butcher block oil and some wax if moisture starts to be a concern. I also sprung the joint a tad where the runners are tacked on, this really helped hold the cheesecloth tight.

Not particularly happy with the cheesecloth bottom, (by the way I would not make cheese with this “cheesecloth”) the grid is way to course and allows small seeds through. I think quality butter muslin would be a better choice, and may decide to utilize it, but admittedly I cringe at the price tag there, since I have a lot of trays to make. My wife wants a steel mesh of some sort, but I want something that is food safe, not to mention the mesh would require more careful installation since I would have to “hide” the edges from the hand. Any ideas here would be welcome.

1. The tray already in use.
2. My wife demanded that I put my makers mark on this (making my entire day in the process)
3. Crap cheese cloth, installed on the tray, seeds can fall through this easily and I can tell that I will be replacing this soon. I think it should be illegal to sell cheesecloth that can’t make cheese.
4. Butter muslin used for cheese-making, but better, but a tad pricey.
5. gappy on purpose, air is a good thing when drying seeds as it prevents mold.
6. Next years seeds in process.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

11 comments so far

View SSMDad's profile


395 posts in 4096 days

#1 posted 07-04-2011 11:59 PM

Hey I really like this. I was thinking of something similar though in this family I’m the outdoorsy, herbalist, gardener, all-around maker-fixer. haha Have you thought about using screen door mesh? It’s small enough to contain everything and pliable enough that the edges wouldn’t rip skin off even if they did show.

Great job!

-- Chris ~~Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 4154 days

#2 posted 07-05-2011 01:23 AM

The screen door mesh has crossed my mind, but I usually find it in rolls that are WAY too big from my project. I think the butter muslin is going to be the best route though, since we have some seeds that would fall through even that mesh (not kidding at all). If I could find small amounts of the door mesh that would be a good way to go, and just do a few in butter muslin.

Thanks for the idea. Stay tuned for the whole system to come together.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Harry_Ch's profile


63 posts in 4175 days

#3 posted 07-05-2011 03:37 AM

Nice looking trays, RG. Did something like those long time ago but as a soil sifter on a garden rebuild. Learned to dislike rocks and roots after that. Used 2×4 for the sides and 2×3 for the ends. The wire meshing was wrapped around 1×1 strips that were then screwed inside the frames. Like you said, that saved the fingers often. Last I saw, it was a plant frame doing good.

Have you considered using a 1/4 inch mesh as a permament bottom then laying the screen material over that? That way you will not have to replace the material everytime some one does an ooops. As for catching the mini seeds, just loosely tape a newspaper under it to catch them.

-- Deeds not Words.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 4154 days

#4 posted 07-05-2011 05:17 AM

That’s not a bad idea Harry but I imagine a system like that to be too finicky for my wife. I do like the idea of the 1/4 inch mesh as an underlayment though to keep everything stiff and protect the muslin from damage (although the good stuff is pretty durable).

We do have a nice set of cleaning screens for catching the small stuff but I will run the newspaper idea past the missus since we have a ton of it.

Thanks for looking.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5660 days

#5 posted 07-05-2011 04:45 PM

we’d love to see this at GardenTenders as well – and hear more about the drying process and use of the herbs etc.

I like that it can be transported with just one hand.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4589 days

#6 posted 07-05-2011 08:31 PM

Really nice drying tray, can imagine a wonderful smell.
Nice and thought out design.

Your letters spoke to me, so I had to play with the lines, have not done graphic work in a long time.

Best of my thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View Bertha's profile


13635 posts in 4192 days

#7 posted 07-05-2011 09:17 PM

Mafe, the G’s got a little try square flourish to it. You’re a hopeless case;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4589 days

#8 posted 07-05-2011 11:55 PM

Al, I know both!

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 4280 days

#9 posted 07-06-2011 12:50 AM

Mafe.. you’re getting busy again..

RG, the hardware cloth with the finer stuff attop should work wonders. done a couple of those here, more as fine sifters rather than drying trays. One went from holes you could drop a quarter through with several removable layers to very fine..multi purpose, screen the gravel, sift the potting soil..

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 4154 days

#10 posted 07-06-2011 02:30 AM

Thanks Ms Debbie, it looks like my sign in for garden tenders is the same so I will try and add this. (although my wife is really the gardener, it’s all green to me.)

Mads. glad the letters spoke to you. I love the direction you took them. I might have to play around with that and see where it takes me. As usual thanks for the inspiration.

Bertha The Ogee is a wonderful thing, once you identify it, you see it everywhere. What is that expression about artists and architects walking around with their eyes open?

Glen I have fine sifters for cleaning seeds. I will have to put up some pics. But that is one area where I recommend buying as opposed to building. (the different grades of mesh is where your costs add up). The goal here is not to separate things but to get them dry without molding (airflow is the best cure for this).

Speaking of curing, I better get these done before this years tobacco comes in (I spoke once a quarter or so.)

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View mafe's profile


13872 posts in 4589 days

#11 posted 07-07-2011 02:27 AM

Smile, send me your real mail adress and I can send you the Illustrator file.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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