Upcycling,  Wood

Catchall tray

The tray is made from off-cuts and scrap wood, sized for storing keys, a wallet and other items that I keep in my pockets throughout the day. The way it’s all cut and glued up together will allow the tray fibres to move freely with moisture changes, there are no self-destructive, tearing-apart forces predicted to appear in this construction. 5 pieces of timber are held together with glue and butt joints only, making an illusion that the tray is carved from a single piece of wood.

The bigger off-cut was cupped and prior to thickness planing, I had to remove the high spots on one side. Just a few quick strokes with a block plane so the piece could be laid flat against my jig. I planed down both boards to 1/2″ (13 mm) and that was all the timber I needed for the project. I cut all the pieces to size and sanded them, and next, I glued the handles to the tray and let the glue dry overnight.

I run the workpiece against the fence and cut off just under 1mm of wood to ensure it was flat on the sides. That step was necessary because the handles could shift a bit during the glue-up. Next, I glued on the front and the back strips. The glue-up dried for 30 minutes and I removed the partially hardened glue squeeze-out from the corners using a knife. I left it aside to dry completely overnight.

On the next day, I cut the front and back pieces flush with the handles using my table saw. I sanded the tray with my sheet sander and by hand and prepared the work area for applying the finish. I wanted my tray to be in a darker colour, but without masking the wood grain so I used Canadian cedar Danish oil. It wasn’t tacky and smelly like varnish, but rather runny and thin like water, different from the Danish oils I used previously. Within the following 3 days, I applied 3 coats and once they dried, I fixed 4 foam feet to the bottom.

The tray can be used with a liner, to protect its surface from keys, it’s deep enough even for a sheet of the anti-skid mat. It can accommodate a few small items like car keys, a wallet and everything else that fits in a pocket. House keys, folding knife, small tape measure, you name it. It’s good to have these everyday-use items in one place and never forget to take them with me.

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