Tres Trays

Back when I made a serving tray, one of the variations that came to mind was nesting trays.  Repeated iterations of a theme show up a lot across human history, from Russian matryoshka to a set of mixing bowls you buy at the big box store.  The idea appeals to something in the human brain.

So, let’s take trays and make them  nest!


Three shall be the number of the counting for our trays.  We want to keep the same proportions, 1.5:1, throughout the set, and we want to keep them level across the top, accounting for a half-inch bottom in each tray.  Do the math before you start cutting, and cut the longest boards first.  This way if you have leftover bits, they can turn out as ends in a smaller tray.  We also want to make the half pins on the ends smaller as we go to keep them looking proportional.

So I stepped my trays at two-inch intervals across the short ends, and half-inch intervals in height.  That worked out to 10″ x 15″ x 3″, 8″ x 12″ x 2.5″, and 6″ x 9″ x 2″.  The half pins decrease by sixteenths: 3/8″, 5/16″, and 1/4″.

Dovetailing is pretty straightforward, and tomorrow I’ll do a detailed entry on nailing in the bottoms.  The big difference from our breakfast tray is that we’re not going to swoop the sides or put in handles.  Instead, we’re going for the austerity of straight lines, with the ornament provided by the repetition and colour.  We’ll get to that!  But for now, this is how the trays end up looking.


BEFORE you nail in the bottoms (tomorrow!), make sure that your trays actually nest correctly.  Fit your bottoms to the sides of the trays, then do a dry run with the next size down.  You’ll probably find you have to adjust the fit a little.  The easy way is to pop the bottom of the larger tray back out and plane it a little thinner.  To check whether it really fits, set a straightedge across the tops.  You should have everything in line.  Then fit the next smallest tray.