Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dovetailed Tray

I received a board from my grandma the other day (isn't my Grandma the best? but most grandsons don't ask their grandmothers for a piece of wood either!). I believe the board is cherry, but I could be wrong. However, I decided to use the board to practice making dovetails. I designed a little tea-type tray and set to work. Here's some pics of the process.

First I cut all the pieces to length on the table saw and ripped the sides to width.

                                  Next I cut the curved profiles of the ends on my bandsaw.

This project wasn't for display or looks as much as it was to practice my techniques. So with every mistake I made with this project, I prevented mistakes on later projects. I was really please with what I learned about dovetails on this project.

So after I set the depth of the tails and pins with my marking gauge, I set to work on the dovetails. There are so many different techniques and methods for making dovetails, that it's hard to decide which to choose. I decided on the Frank Klausz Pins First Method. I won't go into detail explaining this right now.

               Chiseling out the sockets between the pins. Next step: marking out the tails and cutting those.

                                                                       So far so good!

Marking out the centers for the handle slot was actually quite fun. I used a compass to figure out the distances and centers, which is always fun. (At least for me)

I used a 3/4" forstner bit to cut out the end profiles of the handle. That worked pretty good, I felt. I did the first end piece with my cordless drill, which worked okay, but the end result was a little out of square. So, I did the second piece on my dad mill/drill machine. That worked much better.

                                  Next I routed the stopped grooves for the bottom of the tray.

        The grooves on the ends didn't need to stop before the edge, so I did those on the table saw.

Here's the bottom. I actually made this out of a scrap of 1/4" Luan plywood. Not fancy I know, but it worked.

Fit all the pieces together, did some final sanding (well, quite a bit of sanding, but, hey! I'm not perfect!) and then glued and clamped them together.

                                                                   The finished handles.

One set of dovetails. Although not perfect (which it's not supposed to be. That's why it's called "hand made") they were pretty good for me, especially since these are only like my third set of dovetails ever. Maybe fifth, but the first two weren't worthy of being called dovetails. Oh, well. Here's another corner of the tray.

This corner has a few more flaws than the last one, but again, they are hand made. If I made them with a machine, they would probably be close to perfect. But, how personal would that be. I'm not running a business, I'm just having some fun!

And the assembled tray! After I apply some stain and finish, it'll look fine. But, that's in the next post!


  1. Sweet, man!!! You really should start running a business! From the pictures that thing looks pretty professional, it would make a pretty good gift......coughweddinggiftcough. :)

  2. Haha! thanks! You're right, maybe I should start a can be my first customer. I'll give special prices for you...say, $225 for the tray. $275 with stain and finish? haha! yeah right.