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Discussion Starter · #21 · (Edited)
Hello Phil and Chuck !
Phil, if there would be cleats it would be stronger with the cleats length wise and not width wise. Given the purpose I want it for, I was thinking of a length 75cm x 45cm wide. Ideally, a base of 12mm oak wood would be nice, but oak is too expensive for these things in Greece. I find rather cheap cypress, enforce it with cross-grain dowels 100mm diam and it works beautiful. I don;t know how thin I can make the boards without losing the alignment drilling for the dowels to go in. The dowels are 55 - 60% the width of the each board and they (so-to-speak) interlock with those from the other side. I am working with 15mm boards now, and will see if I can drill straight enough. I have described the method in an older thread that I published here.

I spend a lot of time thinking about something I want to make, because my drawing abilities are quite limited to a few sketches with pencil, and often I start something without having solved all technical problems. And I laugh when I see many videos on youtube, where some guy just by hand drills along two pieces of horrible quality softwood, and makes a perfectly functional wooden hinge! They should be in the Got Talent series, because when I try to make an absolutely vertical hole, there is only one method I can trust, and this is the router.

To go back to the tray, the knock-down ability is nowadays almost useless (agree here, Herb!), it makes the tray heavier (big disadvantage) and then if we simplify this and simplify that we finally end with one like the trays in the market, under 20 euros, so why rub the skin off my fingers to make one and not pay and buy, so some poor guy in Bangladesh can get some food. On the other hand, when making it, one aims to one aesthetic scope only: beauty style and craftsmanship.

So I will try to get some tropical hardwood, if not too expensive, and make a large tray with no screws and no glue (except for bonding the boards to form the base - it is beyond the scope of the project to find a single plank 45 - 50cm wide just for this tray). Such a big tray, given a proper base, can act like a small table, very convenient as an assisting surface when eating outside, or for serving snacks and drinks in the garden. The more I think about it the more I like it. Independent X-shaped legs, with two flat ribbons on the top, when opened fits exactly under the tray, and if you don't want them you can store them away easily. Phil, can you please produce a sketch of the base? Dimensions in inches are difficult for me, but don't worry and don't go much into detail - this way or the other I need to change the dimensions, it is the form, the required technique and the ease of construction that interest me.

Overall it should look beautiful, or not exist at all. Summer is coming, why not prepare something beautiful to serve fruit salad and lemonade in the garden!

With thanks to all

D
 
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Dmitri when drilling by hand if can put it on a bench top and place a spacer under the drill bit that puts it at the right height to locate the hole it will keep you flat for a ways. Usually for glued dowels it is enough distance.
 

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Hello Phil and Chuck !
Phil, if there would be cleats it would be stronger with the cleats length wise and not width wise. Given the purpose I want it for, I was thinking of a length 75cm x 45cm wide. Ideally, a base of 12mm oak wood would be nice, but oak is too expensive for these things in Greece. I find rather cheap cypress, enforce it with cross-grain dowels 100mm diam and it works beautiful. I don;t know how thin I can make the boards without losing the alignment drilling for the dowels to go in. The dowels are 55 - 60% the width of the each board and they (so-to-speak) interlock with those from the other side. I am working with 15mm boards now, and will see if I can drill straight enough. I have described the method in an older thread that I published here.

I spend a lot of time thinking about something I want to make, because my drawing abilities are quite limited to a few sketches with pencil, and often I start something without having solved all technical problems. And I laugh when I see many videos on youtube, where some guy just by hand drills along two pieces of horrible quality softwood, and makes a perfectly functional wooden hinge! They should be in the Got Talent series, because when I try to make an absolutely vertical hole, there is only one method I can trust, and this is the router.

To go back to the tray, the knock-down ability is nowadays almost useless (agree here, Herb!), it makes the tray heavier (big disadvantage) and then if we simplify this and simplify that we finally end with one like the trays in the market, under 20 euros, so why rub the skin off my fingers to make one and not pay and buy, so some poor guy in Bangladesh can get some food. On the other hand, when making it, one aims to one aesthetic scope only: beauty style and craftsmanship.

So I will try to get some tropical hardwood, if not too expensive, and make a large tray with no screws and no glue (except for bonding the boards to form the base - it is beyond the scope of the project to find a single plank 45 - 50cm wide just for this tray). Such a big tray, given a proper base, can act like a small table, very convenient as an assisting surface when eating outside, or for serving snacks and drinks in the garden. The more I think about it the more I like it. Independent X-shaped legs, with two flat ribbons on the top, when opened fits exactly under the tray, and if you don't want them you can store them away easily. Phil, can you please produce a sketch of the base? Dimensions in inches are difficult for me, but don't worry and don't go much into detail - this way or the other I need to change the dimensions, it is the form, the required technique and the ease of construction that interest me.

Overall it should look beautiful, or not exist at all. Summer is coming, why not prepare something beautiful to serve fruit salad and lemonade in the garden!

With thanks to all

D
The cleats should go cross grain because that's where the wood is weakest. The way the handle/end pieces work is they only support the bottom piece on the corners. If the grain is oriented in the long dimension, then it will need some support. Otherwise, a heavy load in the center will split the bottom.

I'm a little confused about your dowel dimensions. I think you mean 10mm and not 100mm.

That's a very large tray you are building. 3/4 of a meter long and half a meter wide. You must have some serious meals al fresco. Would love to dine at your house!

A brief report on what I've been doing. no pics though. I glued up some 10mm alder to 13" (330 mm) wide for the base. I cut out some templates for the end pieces and bottom outline. Routing the slots for the side pieces is tricky and the fingers tend to break off easily so I've changed my design so the side pieces go into "through mortises" as well as the bottom. Much stronger. We're having a cold spell here and I'm waiting for a little warmer temps to get back into the shop.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Hi Phil, I agree about changing the interlock of the side rails. Also, I think they should have three more projections on each long side (two on each end and one in the middle, with corresponding cuts in the base sides, which will also accommodate the underside rails to provide stability. I decided on the dimensions (89 x 55 cm total outer dimensions) and also drew a small collapsible under-table with flat straps on the top, which will fit under the tray and convert it to a useful side table for al fresco dinners.
Please forgive the naive drawing, I attach it so you can improve on it and make really nice computerised one. I am looking at 18 mm thick (to be thicknessed down to 15 - 16 mm), 9.5 x 91 cm floor boards that I have from someone who discarded them. They are some type of tropical mahogany-like wood, I made a nice cupboard out of them, very convenient and very simple and elegant. The must another 20 - 25 of those boards.
I haven't decided on the depth of the tray, I need to design sth with scale and see how it looks, even make a prototype to see how it really feels.

Awaiting your comments
Best regards from Crete.

D
 

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I agree there needs to be more support in the middle. Also, I like the idea of pegs for the side pieces. I was worried about the handles only been secured at the bottom. So here's what I was thinking. Note the use of a dado for support. This will need to be cut to a fairly tight tolerance and the wood will need to have uniform thickness. I designed this one with 1/2"/12mm wood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Thank you Phil, this simplifies the structure for the support of the bottom. Additional pegs for the sides give additional support when everything is hanging from the handles. Still, aesthetically it makes the corners of the short sides quite "jammed with technical bits - I wonder if there is a way to make things more simple there - otherwise I am happy to proceed with such an item. Perhaps minimizing the pegs to half-dowels will make them look less predisposing on the design. anyway, the more I look at it the more it appeals to me. I also have some thoughts about what Stick suggested, widening the handles to make them more robust and look better as well. I have a few ideas about it, but have not put them to paper yet. How deep do you think the tray should be internally? Actually the long rims serve only to make sure things do not drop off when being lifted at an angle, so I think 4cm (1 1/2") is enough. This will mean the sides will have be like 6.4cm to provide at least 12mm dado and another 12mm under the dado to make sure the wood does not split. In my calculations with 15mm thick wood, it will become 7cm which is substantial.
Another subject to take into consideration is storage: The potter could have ample space for the tray after posing for Sir Tadema, but in our kitchen this high handled item will not find a place easily. So making this item is theoretical rather than practical. On the other hand, use of rotating metallic handles could the height of the item to that of the short side bodies.
Let me think about it a bit more. It has been a very good topic for discussion and has given me the opportunity to get to know your ability to draw and and the ideas about it from you and some more people.
 
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One important subject in this is grain direction in the boards. In Phil's diagram the grain for the bottom is running long ways with the tray. I can't remember Dimitri if you planned on that too. I would also use a flat grain board as opposed to more vertical grain. The vertical grain is more likely to split under weight whereas the flat grain resembles the layers in a piece of plywood. If you can do this I don't think you will need to reinforce the bottom piece to support weight.

Having the grain in the bottom running in the direction of the long dimension allows you to glue the sides to the bottom since you would be matching long grain to long grain. I imagine that Crete must have very high humidity at times so gluing long grain to cross grain will cause something to split.

As for the depth I would agree with what you have planned. I would have said an inside height of about 50mm plus what you need to join to the bottom.
 

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Thank you Phil, this simplifies the structure for the support of the bottom. Additional pegs for the sides give additional support when everything is hanging from the handles. Still, aesthetically it makes the corners of the short sides quite "jammed with technical bits - I wonder if there is a way to make things more simple there - otherwise I am happy to proceed with such an item. Perhaps minimizing the pegs to half-dowels will make them look less predisposing on the design. anyway, the more I look at it the more it appeals to me. I also have some thoughts about what Stick suggested, widening the handles to make them more robust and look better as well. I have a few ideas about it, but have not put them to paper yet. How deep do you think the tray should be internally? Actually the long rims serve only to make sure things do not drop off when being lifted at an angle, so I think 4cm (1 1/2") is enough. This will mean the sides will have be like 6.4cm to provide at least 12mm dado and another 12mm under the dado to make sure the wood does not split. In my calculations with 15mm thick wood, it will become 7cm which is substantial.
Another subject to take into consideration is storage: The potter could have ample space for the tray after posing for Sir Tadema, but in our kitchen this high handled item will not find a place easily. So making this item is theoretical rather than practical. On the other hand, use of rotating metallic handles could the height of the item to that of the short side bodies.
Let me think about it a bit more. It has been a very good topic for discussion and has given me the opportunity to get to know your ability to draw and and the ideas about it from you and some more people.
Much of the various designs have been driven by the painting. So the issues, in a large part, follow from that.

Yes, I agree that the ends are much too busy. I think the rounded pegs from the painting look better and only drew them square because it was easy. At the very least, I'd round over the edges. I am also thinking about how I would make angled rounded pegs like the picture below. Not terribly hard but it will take a special jig. Also, the pegs should be shorter so they only stick out a little. We could eliminate the pegs for the bottom as the pegged sides would hold it in place.

The total height of the most recent drawing is about 10cm. A lot of the height is to allow for room to place the fingers in handle holes and not scrape against the edge of the bottom board.

Folding handles would not be that hard to make though I think it's a long way from the Roman Potter look. Honestly, the tray doesn't even need handles or a very high edge and could be as short as around 2.5 cm/1". I've made several like that though like the look of the handles in the photo I posted in #10. The sides on that one are 4.5 cm/1.75" high which seem to work pretty well.

One important subject in this is grain direction in the boards. In Phil's diagram the grain for the bottom is running long ways with the tray. I can't remember Dimitri if you planned on that too. I would also use a flat grain board as opposed to more vertical grain. The vertical grain is more likely to split under weight whereas the flat grain resembles the layers in a piece of plywood. If you can do this I don't think you will need to reinforce the bottom piece to support weight.

Having the grain in the bottom running in the direction of the long dimension allows you to glue the sides to the bottom since you would be matching long grain to long grain. I imagine that Crete must have very high humidity at times so gluing long grain to cross grain will cause something to split.

As for the depth I would agree with what you have planned. I would have said an inside height of about 50mm plus what you need to join to the bottom.
Yes, true about flat sawn wood but there is still a question of strength under heavier loads. By the way, I used the sagulator to run calcs on deflection under weight and it says we can go really thin. Even 1/4" (6mm) hardwood shows minimal sag. I may have to test that to fully believe.

About the inside height/depth. I'm definitely in the less is more camp on that. Trays don't really need to be very deep. You can get by with just a simple lip to prevent things from sliding off. The tray in post #10 has a bit less than 1" (2-sh cm) inside depth and could be a bit lower. A google survey of trays show that most tend to be fairly shallow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Hello dear friends, what have we here!

It looks like a postgraduate course in tray design with super analysis in depth and statistics on what goes around the globe ! I started off seeing the painting and saying " I want a tray like that, it would be great!" and since then there has been so much theory that I feel like we are designing the next supercar to bust the business! I think I will go and make it according to Phil's plans, Charles's suggestions and my dimensions. Well, someone in this forum (I think) said "there are no failures in woodwork, you can always burn the thing in the stove and warm yourself up" - quite cynical but true, for there has been so much elbow grease while sanding (and it is sanding that transforms a log to furniture, isn't it?).

Till then,
your sincerely
with great thanks to all who contributed
 

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Helping you think through the details of your project is good mental exercise for thinking through the details of our projects. And to paraphrase your signature: if you think it turned out well it will bring you joy for many years and if you think it didn't turn out out well it will make you unhappy until the day you burn it to keep you warm.
 

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Well, someone in this forum (I think) said "there are no failures in woodwork, you can always burn the thing in the stove and warm yourself up" - quite cynical but true, for there has been so much elbow grease while sanding (and it is sanding that transforms a log to furniture, isn't it?).
I hang them on the wall of my shop to remind me to think things through.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 · (Edited)
Phil, I would need a lot more wall space than I have, just to hang what I consider failures!. People around me tend to treasure things I have made for them but when I see them I find I was naive on so many levels!

It is the beauty of life to allow us to change opinion, this is the way we mature, the way it is constructive to look back, to reflect on things. If only I could eliminate the feeling of many missed opportunities, it would have been easier for me. As my wife points out, often I cry for the lack of 2 - 3 extra hours in every 24hr day !

Dear Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, the tray is already forming in my mind! There are a couple of dozen things with priority before it materializes, but I see it on the side of the big garden table under the trees just in time for the summer Sunday lunches.

best wishes to all
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
While we are talking about wooden trays, there is something I would like to mention here:
As some of my older friends here know, I visit England quite often, and there one of our pleasures (wife & I) is to browse - and many times buy - stuff in all sorts of antique fairs, from the smallest to the big two classic events, in London and in Birmingham (museum stuff there, if you can spare some rolls with thousands there is very nice stuff!).

So, on a Saturday morning in Warwick central square, a small street market was on, just 10-12 stalls, spuds, artisan cheeses etc, and one "antiques" stall, with nothing that could catch my eye, except two old wooden dusty trays in the corner. I touched them and felt the irregularity of wood that has been wetted and dried for years and years. I turned them on their side and noticed that the bottom was a single piece mahogany (not ply, not glued, not anything - a single piece like you would need to make a musical instrument) merely 12mm thick. The man who made them also made some (I think elementary) inlays to decorate them. I don't fancy them very much, but they still stand. How did he join sides to bottom? Brass screws. Overall condition excellent. My guess for their age: late 19th to early 20th century. I imagined his hands feeling the edges for more smoothening, plenty of hand planes and scrapes used on them and I saw him going over the surfaces to decide when enough is enough and starting to varnish. He must have been a sort of man who is patient, persistent, caring and careful. I thought he must be gone by now, and then wondered what will become to all of the stuff we make, wooden objects far away from the mode of times, God knows if anyone will give a moment to think about what sort was the guy who made this particular thing they are holding. Herb, when after 80 years a stranger will bring into his home one of your superlative breadboards (you remember, none of us here could imagine how you made it until you explained). Harry, your grand daughter's wedding ring box you made will pose on the wedding of her grand daughter. THose who look at them, will they spend a moment to think of who made them and thank for their effort? Only if you make sawdust yourself you tend to appreciate what it takes to make these wooden things.

Woodwork makes us better humans I think, at least for me it has systematically washed away all the blood from my soul following days and nights of operating fractures.

All these thoughts circled my mind that cold Saturday morning in the street market. I asked what was the price, already preparing myself to put the trays back - in our age the house is full of clutter and it isn't wise to spend lots of money for nice things that are just old. The man's voice surprised me "Five pounds sir!" In a split second the trays were in my hands, the fiver in his, and I have them photographed here for you, please enjoy them: They are lovely for our alfresco meals in the summer!
Dimensions of the trays: the bigger 56x34cm, the smaller 56x30cm, height of long side 22mm, max height of short side 60mm at top of handle. Handle width at base 85mm, wood thickness 12mm.
Thank you mr tray maker, may God give your soul peaceful rest.
Dear friends, here are the trays:
 

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Dimitri, those are lovely trays, I may steal the end/handle profile. A tribute to a long gone woodworker. The inlaid design would put them in the Art Deco period, I think. 1920s probably. I don't see them as Victorian. Though, the blocky design is reminiscent of New Mexico and the American Southwest. 5 pounds, is a steal! I can't imagine their value will decline in the future. You don't see wood that wide very often these days. Thanks for posting
 

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Demiti, What a beautiful find,you would have kicked yourself later if you had not bought them and thought back on finding them. One thing that amazes me is that the bottoms being fastened all way around like that has not split over time I have seen chest drawers made in the 1800's of a solid piece of wood 5/16' thick that was tacked all way around and badly warped or split. Maybe being sealed with finish both sides prevented that from happening.

Herb
 

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Those trays are very nice and just the wood in them was worth the 5 pounds. I too am surprised that they didn't split. This link shows one way that has recently been designed to deal with that problem. The screw in the center on each side would be just a regular type attachment but each screw going out from the center could be one of these and that would allow the panel to shrink and expand with seasonal humidity changes. https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/shop/hardware/fasteners/washers/40940-expansion-washers
 

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Dmitri, those trays are ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING!!!
 
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