This butler's tray serves up a challenge to woodworkers, involving duplicate routing best done on a router table using a template cut from 6mm MDF.
Step 1: Mark the Grid Pattern
Step 2: Sand the Shape
Step 3: Mark the Width
Step 4: Trace the Leg Shape
Step 5: Trim to Shape
Step 6: Assemble the Legs
Step 7: Attach the Cross-Rails
Step 8: Install the Chain
Step 9: Tray Finger Joints
Step 10: Mark the Handle Shape
Step 11: Remove Handle Waste
Step 12: Rabbet the Sides
Step 13: Glue Up the Tray
Step 14: Fix Slats in Place
Step 15: Attach Tray Supports
Written by Ed Frendo
On 1/4-in. MDF mark out a 5/8-in. grid pattern, as per the diagram below. Plot the points on the grid pattern. Clamp a 1-in.-wide strip of 1/8-in.-thick MDF to blocks. (Bricks will do the same trick.) Maneuver until it meets the points; then, trace with a pencil.
Neatly cut just shy of the outline on the template. Use a flexible sanding strip to produce a free-flowing curve.
Set a drawing compass to 1 3/4-in. and, with the pin held securely against the finished edge, drag the compass towards you to produce a parallel line. Cut along the waste side and finish off with the sanding strip.
Place the completed template on the leg material and trace around the outline with a pencil. Remove the template and, with a jigsaw, cut around the shape just shy of the waste side of the line.
Attach the template to the leg by screwing through the pivot hole and support holes with #6 x 5/8-in. wood screws. Use a flush trim bit in the router to follow the shape for the four legs. Cut legs to length with a tenon saw before removing the template.
Round off sharp edges with a 1/8-in. roundover bit in a trimmer. Pre-sand and connect two legs together with a brass connector bolt. Insert a washer between both legs.
Drill a 23/64-in. hole to 1/4-in. depth then drill through the leg with a 13/64-in. bit. Pre-drill the ends of the leg support rails, then glue and fix with #8 x 1 1/2-in. wood screws. Angle the bottom support parallel to the edge. Fix top supports flush with leg tops
Screw a brass eye hook into inside opposing faces of the top support rails. Set up the base frame on a flat surface to a spacing that allows the base of the legs to sit flat. Cut the chain to length. Permanently attach one end and open up the link of the other end.
Machine the finger joints as per jig instructions. It's easier to machine while the sides and handles are of equal width. The sides are then ripped to 1 3/4-in. and the handles machined to shape.
Produce a handle template (see diagram in Step 1), keeping the end width at 1 3/4-in. Set a compass to 5/8-in. and scribe a line parallel to the curved top. Re-set the compass to 1 1/4-in. and scribe another parallel line. Mark off the length of the handle to 4-in.
Using a 9/16-in. spade bit, drill a hole at both ends of the layout lines. Clamp workpiece to bench and remove waste with a jigsaw. Rout the inside of the handle cut-out on both faces with a 1/8-in. roundover bit in the router or trimmer, moving the router clockwise.
Machine a 7/16-in. wide x 1/4-in. deep stopped rabbet on the inside bottom edge of the long sides.
Apply an even coat of wood glue to all surfaces with a small artist's brush. Clamp and check the diagonal measurements are the same before setting aside to dry.
Attach the tray slats with even spacing by gluing and nailing with 1-in. brads. Alternatively, use #4 x 1-in. brass screws.
Position the leg frame centrally on the underside of the tray. Glue and nail the tray supports to the slats between the legs. Cut 3/8-in. plugs of hardwood with a plug cutter and tap into the screw holes. Sand the butler's tray through grades up to 320-grit sandpaper.
© 2012 Reiman Media Group, LLC.