Lap tray plans - Router Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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Default Lap tray plans

I posted the trays in the show and tell forum. Here are the plans. Unfortunately, there seems to be a limit to the number of pictures per post so I had to break it up a bit.

This design is for box joint joinery. See the variations discussion for other options.

First picture is an example of the design.

Next pics are the shop drawings. Followed by some model detail pictures to show how it goes together.

I used 3/8" box joints for the frame and was very pleased with this. It looks good and makes for a very strong joint.

Steps to build:
Build the frame first.
- cut frame ends and sides. Make the end pieces about 1/8" taller.
- cut the end pieces and make the handles. See next post for the details on this including the template.
- make your frame joints. I use an INcra LS positioner to cut the box joints but you can use any joint you want. Be sure to adjust the dimensions for the joinery you are using.
- cut the dado for the bottom panel. If using plywood, now would be a good time to invest in an undersized straight router bit (7/32") to make a tighter dado.
- drill the holes for the leg pins. I drilled both sides at once to ensure the legs align. Note that the plan I have assumes slight round over of the frame's bottom edges. Changing this will effect the angle of the legs so you may want tom ove the hole position accordingly.
- cut the bottom panel. Dry assemble and clamp the frame to take final measurements. Then cut the panel and dry fit. It's a good idea to start a little oversized and sneak down to the correct size. I like to finish my panel before gluing up but you can skip that if you want.
- sand, sand, sand and then glue up the frame.

Now make the legs.
- measure the width of the inside bottom of the frame on both ends. you want the legs to be tight enough to stay up. I targeted 1/32" wider than the frame and sanded down to make for a friction fit. You may have to tweak the length of the horizontal members.
- cut the pieces (8 altogether)
- make the mortises. I use the router table with stops set up on the fence and carefully lower the legs onto the bit. Works great just keep your fingers away from the bit.
- make the tenons. I use the table saw for this and make the tenon a bit tight to start.
- tune the M&T fit. I found that you don't want the tenons to be very tight as you need the leg assembly to be 100% flat. More on that in a bit.
- drill the holes for the dowel pins. Clamp two legs together and drill at the same time to ensure alignment.
- round over the leg ends on the sander. It helps to draw a line (I used a washer) so you don't oversand.
- sand, sand, sand.
- glue the legs together. Find a flat surface that you can weight them down on to ensure they are 100% flat. Do a dry fit/clamp/test to make sure of this. Warped legs won't let your tray sit flat when folded up. If warped, use a chisel on the tenon to loosen the tenons up a bit before gluing.
- tune the leg fit in the frame. Use a sander to tune the width of the leg assembly so it friction fits in the frame.
- cut the dowel pins. I go for about 1 1/2" long. Sand down half of it so it doesn't bind in the leg's hole.
- test the leg fit. Press 2 of the pins into one side of the frame so about 1/4" shows on the inside. Slide the legs in place and pin the other side. The legs should pivot freely and when folded into the frame should stay in place. Remove the pins and legs.
- finish tray, legs and dowel pins. Use your preferred finish. I really like minwax wipe on poly.
- reassemble. I use a q-tip to put some paste wax in the leg's holes to make the action smooth. Gently pound in the leg pins. I prefer they stand about 1/8" proud.
- Use the tray to serve your sweety breakfast in bed and then tell you want to buy that 20" helical planer you've been eyeing.

Next post is about making the handles.
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Measure twice, cut once and CROSS OUT THE WRONG MARKS.

Last edited by PhilBa; 11-09-2015 at 03:18 PM. Reason: fixing typos.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 02:17 PM
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What did you use for the inlays? Really nice contrast!

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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Default Making the handles

You could cut the handles out by hand and if you are going to just make one tray, it's probably an ok approach. If you are making more than one or are a perfectionist you should make the template. I wanted them to be perfect so I made a template. This ensures both sides are the same. If you skip the template, make one side and then use that as a template for the second side. At least they will match.

First pictures show the shop drawing for the template. The drawing is a bit busy but it contains all you need to make the template. Note that first one doesn't show the slots for the stops. I did that to set up a mini production line. The pictures show an early version of the template. I unfortunately ruined the first one so had to make another. I love working with MDF...

Cut your side blank to size but oversize it about 1/8" where the handle will be. Trace the outline on the blank. Rough cut away the excess - a band saw and drill press with a forstner bit work great but a jig saw and a simple drill will do as well. Use double sided tape to mount the blank on the template and a trim bit in a router (or router table) to clean it up.

Then do it again.

Use a round-over bit to make the handles smooth. Sand them down to be perfectly smooth. Since people will touch the handles a lot, I wanted them to feel really nice.
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Measure twice, cut once and CROSS OUT THE WRONG MARKS.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 02:47 PM
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Very nice project.
Thanks for sharing. I like pictures!
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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Default Lap Tray Plans: Inlays.

The first thing a number of you probably saw was the inlay. I hadn't done it before so it was a lot of fun. There are videos out there that show the basic technique but [SNARKY EDITORIAL MODE]the guys that make them seem to really like to hear themselves talk and just go on forever, please just show me what it takes and skip the down homeyness[/SNARKY EDITORIAL MODE] so I just figured it out on my own.

I got some of the inlay strips from Rockler. 1/4" wide. It measured between .040 and .045" thick (slightly less than 1/16") so I set a 1/4" straight router bit to .035" and routed a channel on router table. I have a wixey depth gauge so it's easy - if you don't you might have to do a little trial and error with some scrap stock. I used chisels to square up the ends. The strips seem to be a little bit wide so I had to sand the edges to get them to fit.

I used tightbond II to glue them in place. I was moderately generous with the glue. Put a piece of wax paper over it all and clamped pieces of 3/4" MDF on either side. Let sit overnight.

I used a card scraper to take off the excess of one but the walnut "federal" inlay had a little tearout when I went perpendicular to the grain so I switched to sanding (100/150/220) to get it flush.

I also made my own plain inlay with some Jatoba. It was thicker (.080") so I cut the channel deeper. Scraper work a charm with that.

I really like this technique and will be using it a lot more. You'll see another example in another project post soon.

Measure twice, cut once and CROSS OUT THE WRONG MARKS.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-09-2015, 03:12 PM Thread Starter
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Default Lap Tray Plans: Variations

Joinery.

I'm a fan of box joints but there are several other approaches that will work just fine. Note that legs put stress on the sides so you will want a strong joint.

A butt joint will work ok though you will probably need to use nails or screws. You could counter sink the screws and plug with dowels. Contrasting wood for plugs could look pretty nice. Or, you could just use dowels to join them. You'll need to reduce the width of of your sides by 2 times the stock width.

Miters can be nice. I would use splines to reinforce them.

Dovetails. This would make for some beautiful joinery. You will need to adjust the dimensions for blind DTs (though not for through DTs).

Rabbet joints. This could be pretty nice as well. Consider a lock rabbet joint for more stability. Need to adjust dimension by 2X the rabbet depth.

No legs.

You can omit the legs to make a simple tray. I could reduce the height of the tray by about 1/2" - take it off the bottom.

Dowels for the legs.

Use dowels instead of mortise and tenons in the legs. I'd use 3/8" dowels for the cross pieces. Make them through and sand flush. If you use contrasting woods (walnut and maple, for example), it will look pretty nice.

Measure twice, cut once and CROSS OUT THE WRONG MARKS.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-27-2015, 09:57 AM
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Hi, Phil.

I love your project!!!

We, woodworkers are everywhere!!!
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