Walnut Tray

Tuesday, August 4, 2015 10:59 AM

My wife happened to see the plans for a dining room table tray in one of my Woodsmith magazine articles and asked me to make it. The original plans call for Oak, but she wanted it in Walnut. Went down to my local wood store and got a nice piece of 2" Walnut. I have never made anything like this before so it was a new experience. There is lots of bandsaw work.  

This project involves cutting off a ⅛" slab from the block of Walnut and then using a thickness planer to plane the ⅛" slab and the remaining piece of Walnut. You have to use double stick tape to attach the ⅛" piece to another board to run it through the planer. Once that is done you make a template to fit over the main piece of the tray, cut out the center of the tray with a jig saw and then use the template with a Router and flush trim bit to smooth out and finish sizing the inside. Sounds a bit complicated, but it isn't too bad. Check out the photo to the right for a sample of what it looks like.  

I just used some MDF and left over Mahogany strips. It has to be sized right so it fits over the Walnut blank snuggly to use the Router. Once you have all this done then comes the hard part. You have to cut the top "tray" portion (it is curved) off of the Walnut blank. This is where I ran into problems. I have not used a Bandsaw a lot so I was at a bit of a disadvantage. The plans provided good instructions and some tips on how to do this part, that was not the problem. I ended up cutting the curved top off the Walnut piece with a ½" band saw blade. At the time I only had a ½" and ¼" blade. It really left some terrible saw marks which took a ton of sanding to remove. I highly recommend doing the Bandsaw portion with a blade that has much finer teeth. I ended up buying a ⅛" blade with 14 teeth per inch. Too bad I did not have that blade earlier, would have saved me a ton of extra work.  

Once the curved pieces are cut, you size the base a bit smaller and then glue the curved top onto it. Then, comes the sanding, in this case a lot of it. But, I was able to pretty much salvage this project. I think it came out pretty well.  Once the curved pieces are cut, you size the base a bit smaller and then glue the curved top onto it. Then, comes the sanding, in this case a lot of it. But, I was able to pretty much salvage this project. I think it came out pretty well. 

I finished the tray with two coats Deft Spray Lacquer, sanding in between with 4.0 steel wool. I then put on two coats of General Oil + Urethane Semi-Gloss. The tray came out pretty well. Check out the photos for the finished project. The idea is you put some foibles (marbles, some type of glass) in the hollowed out portion along with some candles or something like that. My wife was happy and that counts for a lot.  

Doug