Serving Tray

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An exercise in template-making yields a great gift project that’s easy to duplicate

When some good friends got married recently, I decided to make them a custom serving tray that  was certain to stand out among any storebought gifts. I wanted it to be beautiful, unusual, and built to last. I started with the idea of flared sides, but decided against the compound joinery involved in angling all four sides, so I stuck with two. This led to the idea of extending two shaped sides to accept a pair of spindle-turned handles. So far, so good. The next challenge was the bottom: Capturing it within grooves in the tray walls would require using plywood for stability, but I worried that it might delaminate due to spilled liquid. I realized that I could use solid wood by letting the bottom run under the tray ends, where it could move freely in response to seasonal changes. I also recognized that the bottom would provide a great opportunity to resaw some special spalted maple for a one-of-a-kind book-match. I ended up with a great gift with a bonus: the template that I created to do the shaping makes it easy to duplicate this project for future gifts. And that’s a gift to me!

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