Upcycling,  Wood

Set of trivet trays

A segmented, end-grain bamboo chopping board, that cracked along a few lines, couldn’t be used in the kitchen anymore, but it could be cut into smaller pieces and reused. This set of 2 trays is the last part of a bigger project, there were 3 other attempts, successful ones, at upcycling this chopping board. I’ve already made 2 coasters and a soap tray. These trivets are made for use with glass jar candles, they are supposed to block the heat and protect the surface underneath. They will become particularly useful when candles are getting burned out and the flame is close to the bottom. These trays are like trivets or coasters or something in between.

First, using double-sided tape, I fixed a few strips of wood on the board. I used what I had on hand but they were the same thickness, and that was the most important thing. I installed a bearing-guided dish carving bit in my router, fixed a large, plywood base to it and started routing out the material. Any marks were removed with a scraper, not a perfect tool for the job, but it was sharp and removed all imperfections. Once both parts were scooped out and flat I moved onto a table saw and separated both halves. Some of the waste split when cut off from the rest, I investigated the workpiece and it needed some glue. I addressed that issue later on.

One of the pieces had an original recessed area on the back and I came up with the idea of cutting the entire bottom off of it. What I could, I did on a table saw and finished the cut with a pull saw. That way I stayed safe and still relatively quickly finished the task – I was cutting across the grain even if it looked like resawing. The initial 2 cutting lines met in the same plane and what was left was flush cut with a pull saw. While the glue was drying on the thinner piece, I sanded the other one using a finishing 1/3rd sheet sander. I rounded over the edges, all with the same bit raised up a few times. The order in which it was done seemed to be important there because the best results were achieved when the bottom edges were cut first and then the corners. No tear-out whatsoever – what occurred in the preceding step was immediately cancelled in the following one.

So when all the woodworking was done I pulled out a bottle of teak oil and applied 2 coats of a finish within 2 days. The oil cured completely after an additional day or two, it kept on sipping out from the end grain like from cocktail straws. Eventually, the trays were ready to go and their purpose was to separate hot candle bases from surfaces like tabletops or window boards. They featured what I called “wax grooves”, just in case something goes wrong. Using them with pillar and not container candles is possible, but in that case, an additional glass saucer or an old candle glass jar has to be used. The trays are not non-flammable, they’re made of wood or rather grass after all, but they have good insulating properties and if not exposed to open fire should last a while.

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