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I wish I had more reasons to use my lathe because every time I turn something I remember how fun it is! This snack serving tray is very simple to make. Actually, the trickiest part was finding the right sized bowls.
I chose walnut and cherry for because they look great together and are relatively inexpensive hardwoods. I started by edge jointing two pieces of the walnut and gluing them together to make a single wide panel. My table saw edge jointing jig is a great way to do this. You can hardly see the seam:
When gluing up panels, take the time to clamp them carefully to make sure they are aligned and aren’t cupped. I like to use pipe clamps for this. The scrap boards sandwich the walnut boards perpendicularly and get clamped together on their ends. This helps keep the panel flat.
I glued up three sections of the cherry board to create a turning block for my lathe.
LOTS of clamps!
After the glued-up boards were dry, I printed out my cutting template and attached it to the walnut panel using spray adhesive. If you aren’t sure how to use my cutting templates, here’s a video with more info.
Poking a small hole into the center will make it easier to find the middle later once the template is removed.
I cut out the three big holes for the bowls using a 3 1/2″ (89mm) hole saw. This is the biggest one I own and I didn’t want to buy a bigger one just for this project. But it worked out nicely for glass custard bowls. These are the ones I used. After finding these bowls, I ran across some orange colored bamboo dip bowls that I fell in love with! They don’t nest into the holes as perfectly at the glass custard bowls, but they look awesome.
I used my bandsaw to cut out the shape of the tray. A jigsaw would work just as well.
I like to round over edges of things! Here I used a 1/4″ (6mm) roundover bit to ease over the edges of everything and make them nicer to touch. By the way, people ask me about router bits all the time. Mostly, because they are experiencing sticker-shock at the outrageous prices of individual bits. For the non-professional, weekend woodworker I recommend this set from Ryobi. I use these bits all the time. It’s a great value: you get 15 bits for around 50 bucks and they do a great job.
I rounded over one of the hole saw cut-out pieces to use for the base.
I turned the top handle and the lower riser using that cherry block. It’s always fun to use my old lathe. I rarely have a use for it though! I didn’t have any thought-out plan for turning these pieces. The fatter chunk on the left side of this picture will connect the base to the tray and the spindly part will be the handle.
I was thinking of alternatives if you don’t have a lathe. I think a table leg or other kind of spindle might work for this. You can buy these at home centers. Another cool look might be to use a metal pipe. Maybe a piece of conduit with chrome plated spray paint. Lots of possibilities here.
I drilled larger holes (mortises) in the base and the tray for the spindles’ tenons to fit into.
Here’s why it was important to poke that little guide hole in the tray earlier. It made centering this mortise hole easy. Make sure you run some tests before drilling these holes. It’s better to have them a little smaller than the tenons. That way you can easily sand the tenons down to get a tight fit. If the holes are too big and the tenon fits loosely, you have a bigger problem!
Then I just clued the pieces together.
Finished with spray lacquer!