Serving Trays

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Project by JimYoung posted 02-16-2014 03:42 PM 1898 views 4 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We have a large ottoman in our living room, and it would be nice to set a drink or roll some dice on it occasionally. So, I had some 8/4 cherry laying around and a new box joint jig from Rockler to try out.

The frames are 3/8” cherry with box joint corners. The sides are 1.5” high and the ends have simple arch with the hand holds. I created the arch with a hardboard template, and used the same arch to layout the hand holds so they would mirror the top. The large tray is 24”x16” and the smaller tray is 16”x12” (might as well make two while you’re at it).

I like the Rockler box joint jig (it was on sale) and it it was very easy to setup and get consistent joints. I did add a sacrificial fence to it and marked it in several locations with vertical lines. These lines help to make sure the pieces being milled are square to the table. I really like how the cherry end grain darkens, even with just clear finish, to highlight the joints.

The bottom is 1/8” baltic birch plywood and is set into a groove milled into the frame pieces. The plywood is dressed up with cherry and maple veneer. The veneers were cut with a hobby knife and taped together with blue painters tape. I tried a couple of patterns for the center maple, and really like the “heart” pattern on the larger tray. I have a friend with a vacuum pump and I used west systems epoxy and vacuum bagged the veneers to the plywood. I only had one problem with the veneering when I didn’t squeegee off enough epoxy and it bled through the veneers. So, I had to redo the large tray bottom. When applying the epoxy I slopped it on, and then used one of the wife’s credit cards to scrape most of it back off. You only want a slight sheen on the plywood before applying the veneers and pulling a vacuum.

Finally, the finish is just clear salad bowl wipe on finish. I finished the bottom of the tray first, rubbed it out, and waxed it before gluing the frame around it. When gluing the frame I also used tape on the inside of the box joints to help remove the glue squeeze out. Then I taped off the bottom and finished the frame.

New skills that I learned on this project: Resawing with my table saw to take the 8/4 down to 3/8”, box joints and setting up the jig, working with veneers, using a band clamp for glue ups, and trying to take my finishing skills to the next level.

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

5 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3753 days

#1 posted 02-16-2014 03:45 PM

These are beautiful and nicely done. Congratulations and welcome to Lumberjocks.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 3324 days

#2 posted 02-16-2014 07:50 PM

Beautiful work! The veneered bottoms came out great. I like the heart in the large one also.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View Fishinbo's profile


11362 posts in 3062 days

#3 posted 02-21-2014 03:17 PM

Those trays are classy. Great design, joints and the wood combo is gorgeous. Great work!

View robscastle's profile


7446 posts in 3091 days

#4 posted 07-17-2016 07:28 PM

Hello Jim,

I was looking at your serving Trays and was reading your construction details.
The cherry looks very similar to the timber we have here called Tasmanian Myrtle.
The design and selection of the pattern for the profile and handle certainly set the piece off well.

Veneer work:
I must ask why did you use Wests for the veneer instead of conventional glue?
The bookmatching and resultant effect refelect work skills a little above a beginner level woodwork by the way.

That has got to be the best use of a credit card I have heard of so far ! I hope you disposed of it in the toxiic waste bin when you finished !!

-- Regards Rob

View JimYoung's profile


390 posts in 2474 days

#5 posted 07-17-2016 09:30 PM

Hi Robert,

I use epoxy since it doesn’t need air to cure and I think water based wood glue would tend to warp the veneers. I’ve vacuum bagged model airplane wings this way for some time with balsa over Styrofoam.

The book matching just takes a little patience to figure out how to cut and line up the grain pattern. The heart was kind if an accident, but worked out great.

-- -Jim, "Nothing says poor craftsmanship more than wrinkles in your duck tape"

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