'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros  

'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros
                                                                   "Where woodworkers are not all Pros"
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Walnut and hard maple snack tray project
Here's a project that gave me some experiences that I had never attempted before..... A project where there are no square corners or angles in the finished piece.  I found this project for a snack tray that was in the December, 2009 / January, 2010 Issue of Wood Magazine (Issue No. 195). 
Snack tray project from Wood Magazine Issue No. 195
I thought that this was a beautiful piece that I could not only make for my wife for Christmas, but for my two daughters and my daughter-in-law as well.  With only four weeks before Christmas, I had my work cut out for me to get all four of these trays finished in time.

Rough sawn hard maple and walnut boards before milling.I started out with rough sawn lumber that I purchased from an Amish woodworking lumber mill and shop that is about 25 miles from my house.  Seeing this lumber shop is another story all in itself that I may post on the site at some point.  I had just recently been told about this shop where I can buy rough sawn lumber of all types for about half of what I had been paying at other sources (and about 1/4 of the cost at the big boxes if you can even find what you need there).  The photo on the right shows some of this lumber sitting on top of my table saw after unloading it from my pickup truck.

Next, I straightened one edge of each of the walnut and hard maple boards on my jointer and then moved to the planer to true up the stock.  Knowing that I would have to eventually have widths of each species at a total of 11 inches wide, I knew I would have to edge glue the walnut boards to obtain those widths.  So, I calculated how much I would need to make enough panels for all four units.  The hard maple board was already 12 inches wide, so I wouldn't need to glue up panels for the maple, I would only need to cut them to the rough overall lengths needed.

After edge jointing and planing the boards, I cut all the needed pieces to about one inch longer than I would need before laminating the walnut tops and bottoms to the center hard maple blanks.  The photos below shows a couple of views of some of the the walnut boards prior to the glue up of the panels.
Group of walnut boards after milling in my planer. More walnut boards on my bench after planing.

Clamped up walnut panels.Next, I proceeded to glue up the walnut planks into panels.  As I said before, I didn't have to edge glue the maple planks as they were already wide enough.  Although I had more glued up panels than I had proper lengthed clamps, I did manage to get them all completed before laminating the walnut to the maple.  Sorry, but I forgot to take a picture of the laminated walnut and maple blocks.  That was an experience all by itself!  As the article instructed, I had to make some clamping cauls when that was done so that I could get clamping pressure to the center of the glue ups during the lamination process.  You can see a picture of one of the glued up walnut panels on the left.

Inner and outer snack tray templates.After the laminated panels were dry and out of the clamps, I cut them all down to the required overall lengths and widths of 11 inches wide by 19 inches long.  At this point and as discussed in the article, I had to make and outside template and an inside template out of 1/2" thick plywood.  These would be used to drill out the cavities of the trays and to use as band saw and router guides to shape the trays. A picture of these two templates can be seen in the photo on the right.

The next step was to trace the outline of the templates onto the laminated blanks and take them to the drill press to rough out the cavities.  The templates were fixed to the blanks with two screws on opposite corners during the transfer of the patterns to the blanks.  I used a 1 1/2" forstner bit to rough out the cavities to about two inches deep.  You can see in the photos below, some of the steps in that process.  Boy was this a chore!  I had nice big blisters on my right hand from clamping the blanks on the drill press table, unclamping them, moving the dad gummed blanks a little bit and then clamping them in place at the next position.  I must have had to do this at least 150 to 175 times on each blank.  You do the math!  This was the worst task in the whole project but the end result was well worth the time and pain spent doing it.
Ol' Dave getting his blisters made!
Ol' Dave roughing out cavities on drill press with a forsnter bit.
A view of the mess this process made.
A drill press mess!
Fully bored out cavities on one of the tray blanks.
One finished blank roughed out on the drill press.

After getting all four of the blanks roughed out,  I mounted the inner template back on the blanks one at at a time using the same two locating screws.  I then used a home made sub base to mount on my router and using an extended collet, I routed out the cavities a little bit at a time using a bowl bottoming router bit.  When this was completed on each of the blanks, I took them to the band saw to cut out the shape of the outer profile of each tray.  I cut to the outside of the pattern line so that later I could finish smoothing out the shape with my Porter Cable belt sander. You can see the band saw operation halfway completed in the photo below (sorry, I have no pictures of the routing operation).

Cutting the outside shape on the bandsaw.
Finished snack tray without the cups.Finished snack tray with cups inserted.After the blanks were all cut out on the band saw, I returned to the router with the sub base, changed the bit to a 1/4 inch round over bit and finished routing the top edges of the cavities and around the outer perimeters.  With this completed, I finish sanded the entire surface of all the pieces and applied 4 coats of Watco Butcher Block Oil & Finish that is specially designed for applications where there is food contact.  This is a great product and produced a great finish!  Check it out in the photos here on the left (without cups) and with the cups that I purchased at Walmart (on the right).

Want to see what the results were?  Check out the photos below...... I think Santa done good!  Of the four finished trays one was for my wife (no picture of her but the tray with the cups inserted above is her tray), one for my oldest daughter (Dawn), my youngest daughter (Carmen), and my daughter-in-law (Debbie).

Oldest daughter Dawn
Youngest daughter Carmen
Daughter-in-law Debbie

I'm happy, they're happy and Ol' Dave is, too!


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