To make a tray

Here is an in depth look at how the  trays are made.  The trays are often made out of a different species of wood from the box itself. If there is more than one tray a rebate is formed so that they slot on top of each other. 

Note how the partitions sit in grooves in the sides and the mitred corners are  reinforced with splines. These joints make for quality trays matching the workmanship of the boxes they sit in.

A lot of the processes for making the trays are performed on a router table.  This machine was a spindle moulder but has been converted by removing the shaft and motor and bolting a router upside down on the underside of the bed. It is now an extremely versatile machine.

router table
router table jig

This jig is used for making the grooves in the tray sides The jig has bearers screwed to it’s underside which run in grooves machined in the spindle moulder bed.

You can see the tray part on the jig. A router cutter protrudes where the groove in the mdf jig is. The whole “sledge” is passed over the cutter producing the groove in the work piece. Before the grooves are machined in the sides they are cut to length with a mitred end. The block clamped to the jig insures that all the work pieces have the groove in the same place.

router jig

A close up view showing the router cutter and work piece with grooves in it.

After the grooves are machined in the sides the internal partitions are made. This is the end of a partition showing the shoulder made using a normal fence on the router table.

shoulder being formed

This image shows how the tray parts will fit together.

A close up view of one side of the top tray. You can see the mitred end, the groove for the partition, the groove for the tray base and a rebate at the bottom.

side close up
bottom tray close up

A close up view of one bottom tray side. Note that the rebate is on the top outer edge.

This is a top tray side with a partition in position.

tray detail
glue up

This is the beginning of the gluing up process.The partitions and base are glued up first.

Then the 4 sides are glued up using a clamp which puts pressure on all 4 mitred corners at the same time.

tray glue up
machining grooves for splines

After the trays are glued up 2 slots are machined on all 4 corners.

Walnut splines are glued into the grooves.

gluing in splines
cutting splines on bandsaw

The splines are cut off proud of the sides on the bandsaw.

A block plane is used to pare the splines flush with the sides.

splines flush with sides
drilling holes for dowels

Now working on strengthening the partition joint with walnut dowels.  A jig is made to position the dowel holes in exactly the right place. The jig has metal dowels with holes in them to guide the drill bit.

The top trays are going to have partitions that can be removed if required by the owner to suit their items of jewellery. This jig is being used to plane the lift-out partition to the correct height.

planing partitions
planing partitions

Planing the partitions to thickness for a snug fit.

The next few images show 2 beech trays on completion. Here with the partitions removed.

completed tray
completed tray

Here with the partitions in place.

Showing the bottom tray split into 3 compartments.

completed tray
completed tray

Finally a close up view of the walnut dowels and splines.