Roland Rolson

Ash mobile tray

Less than 2 years ago I cut a couple of trees in my backyard and this piece comes from them. It’s thereby very special to me as I know its past and what it’s gone through. It’s also different from my last projects as this is hardwood. I started from flattening the piece with my router and the jig I built in the past. I fixed the wood to the bench with double-sided tape and slowly but surely removed the excess material.

Double-sided tape worked fine with curved and uneven surface, shims and wedges were used to help stabilise the workpiece.

Once finished I placed it on a shelf and after several weeks I noticed it was slightly bowed. I used my planer, first going across the grain and then with the grain.

Next I cut 2 parallel edges on my table saw. I used one of these edges cut with a chainsaw which was very straight and that helped me a lot and speeded up the process.

The capacity of my saw, and the mitre gauge was very limited, so I couldn’t cut remaining 2 edges with the same way. I used my circular saw, cutting from both sided as its blade was too small to go all the way through. To clean that cut I did another pass on my table saw.

I marked the corner lines and removed the majority of the material on my table saw – freehand. Not recommended for anyone who doesn’t feel confident with this. Then I proceeded with sanding.

I generated tons of dust, but I don’t mind sawdust at all. It took some time but the results were good.

I used my orbital sander to finish the top and the bottom surface. Top edge was then rounded with a small router bit and the bottom one with a larger one. I had to use my plunge base as it has a bigger hole and the larger bit wouldn’t fit into the trimmer base.

I applied a couple of coats of spray lacquer and within the next few days I attached the castors. Pre-drilled holes were absolute necessity as the screws I used were very small and fragile.

The castors were placed as far out as possible to make them visible. This project is called an ash mobile tray to eliminate confusion with an ashtray which surely is something completely different.

It looks good in the daylight, nice shape suspended at the right level above the ground, but also works out in the night, as the high gloss finish reflects all the colours and flares. I’m happy that the wood looks light and it’s not stained or darkened with varnish – I like to leave my projects as natural as possible from time to time.

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