Wooden Tray: Episode 2

Wooden Tray EP2 Keyframe

This is an episode in a free series. Want to watch it? It is free to do so, you just need to log into the site and you can enjoy this video and many other videos we think you will love.

With the base prepared and cut to size, Paul shapes the base by bevelling the bottom edge and rounding over the top edge. Then it is ready to be screwed onto the body of the tray and a finish is applied to round out the project.

Posted in , ,


  1. lub on 7 December 2018 at 11:06 am

    Hi Paul,
    before glueing some boards to a larger panel i try to orient all single boards with the grain looking in the same direction. That’s not always possible because of the anticipated shrinkage and the appearance of the jointed panel. But i think, it makes plaining the glued piece a lot easier.

    In addition to face and edge marks on the single boards i draw an arrow in their grain’s direction on the face side. Is this common and do you have any recommendations for such a technique?

    Thank you!

    • Izzy Berger on 13 December 2018 at 8:24 am

      Hi Lub,

      I have passed on your query to Paul and his answer is below:

      Not really. The more important is the visual rather than the grain orientation and with judicious preparation, the board can be close enough to require finishing with a scraper.

      Kind Regards,

    • Carlos M. Zaccaro on 13 December 2018 at 12:54 pm

      I do just exactly the same as you Lub!!!

  2. Keith Walton on 7 December 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Could the base just be glued on, or are the screws a must?

    • Eloise Rees on 7 December 2018 at 5:10 pm

      It certainly could just be glued on. Paul decided to use screws in this particular project as he intended it to be used as a drinks tray and felt it was more secure for carrying hot drinks.

      • Keith Walton on 7 December 2018 at 5:42 pm

        That was what I assumed, If keeping it dry and using it for light duty, I thought the screws may not be needed for something this size.

    • John Sherman on 8 December 2018 at 5:52 pm

      Hello, I have a similar question….why the choice of screws over glue? Just seeking insights.

  3. Kerry Cox on 7 December 2018 at 1:50 pm

    What finish did you use on this project, I don’t think it was mentioned.

  4. Jack Moskowitz on 7 December 2018 at 1:57 pm

    What is the finish that you are using?

  5. Brian Rosenberg on 7 December 2018 at 4:48 pm

    Why did Mr. Sellers use screws and not just glue the bottom to the sides like the dovetail boxes. Which in a larger size could be a tray as well. Any concern that the glue would not hold more weight that a tray might hold?

  6. Paul Whoknows on 7 December 2018 at 5:19 pm

    Hello Paul,

    You cut the board to length holding it in the vise (tilted), that’s fine once you mastered the hand saw, but for beginners what kind of clamp system would you recommend? a bench hook? I’ve never seen you using a bench hook and that makes me wonder if perhaps is a bad idea.

    Thank you.

    • Doug Finch on 7 December 2018 at 7:08 pm

      Paul mentioned in one of his other (much older) videos that some people prefer to use a bench hook but he doesn’t care for them. He said there was no problem if you chose to use one, he just doesn’t like them much.

      • Paul Whoknows on 7 December 2018 at 11:48 pm

        Thank you, I find really easy to perform hand-saw-cross-cuts using a bench hook.

    • Ed on 7 December 2018 at 9:31 pm

      You can do it exactly as Paul is doing. Set a knife wall, get the saw running in it, and then drop the heel of the saw along the edge saw mark. It doesn’t matter what angle that mark makes relative to the floor. Just follow it. It’s no harder or easier when the line is tilted.

      • Paul Whoknows on 7 December 2018 at 11:50 pm

        I watched the video again, Paul says something about placing the table in the bottom part of the vise, I’ll try that! thank you.

  7. Terrence OBrien on 8 December 2018 at 4:04 am

    Why sand after using the plane?

    • Brian Miller on 13 December 2018 at 2:46 am

      The plane makes it flat and true (especially across the edge joints) the sanding roughs up the fibers slightly to give the finish something to bond to. Light sanding with fine grit.

  8. joeleonetti on 8 December 2018 at 5:32 am

    Thanks Paul. This is a beautiful project. I can’t wait to make some.

    I do have a question about the need for sanding. After getting a silky smooth surface from handing planing, it kills me to run sandpaper over the wood.

    I know you have mentioned sandpaper adds a bite to the surface to help finish stick. I think you had a post showing something Hanah did with shellac with a hand planed vs hand planed then sandpapered surface but I couldn’t find it. I mostly work with shellac. What would happen if I didn’t follow up with sand paper after hand plaining and used shellac? Just trying to learn and understand to make the best finish possible. If you say to do it I believe you. Many thanks.

    • Ed on 8 December 2018 at 1:43 pm

      Some people sand, some don’t, although it depends upon what you are doing. I was taught that dyes and stains can have difficulty penetrating some woods after planing, so a light sanding with 180 or 220 opens up the surface. Some projects will have surfaces produced in various ways, e.g., planed surfaces, rasped and and filed curves, scraped contours, and scraped surfaces. Sanding evens all of this out. Finally, a project can present both face grain and end grain. The top of the tray is face grain, but some curved profiles, like on cabriole legs, turned knobs, and shaped aprons, are actually end grain or somewhat end grain-ish, and they will go dark when dye or stain is applied. You can sand the to a higher grit, e.g., sand surfaces to 180 or 220 and end grain up to 320 and 600 to burnish them and hold back the color, hoping to get a more uniform result. Some people, though, don’t sand, and feel it gives a better result. You’ll have to experiment, but that’s some of the thinking I was taught.

      • joeleonetti on 24 November 2019 at 12:44 am

        Thanks Ed. Makes sense.

        I just bought some wood so I can make 8 of these as gifts this year. That’s why a year between my initial question and response to you. Was brushing up on the video before I started.

  9. martin Brown on 8 December 2018 at 6:02 am

    Paul can you be more specific & tell me the brand of the water based finish you are using on this tray, you said that it was fast drying.

    • Ghal on 8 December 2018 at 7:55 am

      It looks like a water-based polyurethane, such as Polycrylic. It goes on a cloudy white and dries quickly and clear(ish).

    • Izzy Berger on 13 December 2018 at 8:37 am

      Hi Martin,

      Paul says all of the water-based finishes are fast drying and will usually be dry within few minutes however the manufacturers recommend an hour between coats. In this case, Paul used Ronseal Satin finish.

      Kind Regards,

      • Ed on 13 December 2018 at 12:00 pm

        People should be very cautious with this advise about drying. With one exception, the various water born products I use require one to two hours in perfect conditions between coats. Do what the label says and be aware that there is chemistry happening after the water evaporates and after the surface appears dry. “Dry and free of water” does not equal being ready to recoat. If you’ve waited the time required by the manufacturer and if the surface produces a dry powder when scuffed with decent abrasive paper, then it is probably okay to recoat. Not allowing proper drying can lead to difficult finishing problems. I’m sure Paul is working properly, but the wording of the advise, above, may confuse or mislead some people. The fastest water born finish I have ever seen permits recoating in 25 to 30 minutes in perfect conditions and the manufacturer states this as minimum. Be aware, though, that some finishes have a maximum, too, and if you go too long, then you must wait even longer. Some poly’s, Minwax oil based poly for example, must be recoated within a few hours and, failing that, must be allowed to sit for 72 hours.

        Bottom line: No matter what you have done with other products, you must read the info for each product and do what the manufacturer says.

  10. joeleonetti on 9 December 2018 at 2:30 am

    Hi Paul,
    Do you a source for quality brass slot screws? I don’t know who makes good ones. I don’t mind waiting for them to arrive. So you a list of sizes you like to keep handy in the shop? I am basically making the range of projects you show on the !aster Classes. Thank you.

  11. Keith Walton on 10 December 2018 at 1:00 pm

    an end nub snapped off one of my pieces, do you think gluing it back on would be strong enough to continue rounding it over? If not I may just shorter the piece and cut a new half lap further up the board.

    • Clifford on 10 December 2018 at 4:50 pm

      The same thing happened to me with a piece of walnut. I glued it back on and cannot even see the break. I was very gentle when rounding but it came out fine.

    • Izzy Berger on 20 December 2018 at 9:11 am

      Hi Keith,

      Perfectly fine to glue it on as it’s long grain to long grain and that makes a good glue surface.

  12. Craig Meaney on 17 December 2018 at 3:17 am

    What number and length of screws does Paul use? I would like to buy brass per his preference, but need to determine which I should order.

    • Izzy Berger on 20 December 2018 at 9:11 am

      Hi Craig,

      Paul uses 1” 3-4mm screws. He usually gets them from eBay.

      • Craig Meaney on 21 December 2018 at 3:41 am

        Thank you Izzy. I got 1” number 8 brass screws from Lee Valley and they worked well.

  13. Linda Hansard on 5 March 2019 at 10:40 pm

    What a fantastic and elegant first project you have designed for us.
    I am a complete newby and am really excited to find your new sites Paul.

    have watched the 2 videos and can see how much thought you have put into the tutorials.
    They are packed with different techniques, great for beginners like me.

    Complete step by step guidance.

    Thank you Paul and gang

    look forward to what is to come.

    • Izzy Berger on 7 March 2019 at 3:30 pm

      Hi Linda,

      Thank for you the kind words.

      I would also recommend you look at our sister site, Common Woodworking, which is focused on beginner woodworkers with easy to follow projects.

      Kind Regards,

  14. CHARLES Friedman on 18 July 2022 at 4:27 pm

    I enjoy and learn a lot from the videos.
    One question: why the very long screw driver. In a situation with a predrilled hole that has a preformed thread I would use a short stubby screwdriver. The point is to minimise any chance of the screwdriver slipping and gashing the wood. With a long bladed screwdriver there is much less control.
    Just my take as a retired dentist where control over your tools is essential.
    Charles Friedman
    Southern Coastal California

    • LiquidWood on 18 July 2022 at 9:30 pm

      I suspect it was for no reason other than it was the screwdriver he had at hand. As you noted, those of us lacking Paul’s total mastery of tools should opt for the short stubby variety. Paul presents techniques and oftentimes multiple methods of performing the same task … implementation details are at our discretion based on our comfort level.

  15. James Collier on 6 September 2022 at 1:04 pm

    I just finished building Tim Rousseau’s Asian-inspired hall table in black walnut. This tray in walnut and maple will look great sitting on top. The cambered sides and ends will tie nicely to the curved aprons, top supports and legs of the table. Even the crossed ends of the tray sides will tie to the through-tenons of the table. The underside of the table is chamfered just like the underside of the tray. Perfect! Thank you .

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.