The finish for these trays is going to be paint. That’s pretty typical for anything made of softwood that I’ve seen in the historical record. It’s not hard to see why that would be a favourite: it’s cheap, easy to apply, and provides excellent protection.
For these trays, I thought I would do something a little different, and use spray paint. The “furniture makeover” people have extolled the virtues of spray paint, and I thought I’d give it a try. I draw the line at “chippy” finishes, but figured this would be interesting. For one reason, I got a pretty wide variety of hues.
I took the trays outside on a folding table to spray them. Spray the insides, let cure, then spray the outsides. Repeat.
The repeating is one of the main disadvantages, here in the “results” section of this experiment. This paint is very thin. While that helps it not look like you applied it with an old mop, it took three coats to get a saturation I was okay with, especially on the end grain surfaces of the dovetails. Two sides, three coats, three trays…carry the one… that’s eighteen trips outside.
This is, I think, the Achilles’ heel of this method. The fumes and overspray absolutely dictate spraying outside, unless you’ve got the space and funds for a spray booth and protective equipment. Around here, six or seven months of the year are right out, because it’s too cold. Then, you can’t spray for another couple of months in the spring because the cottonwood trees and the dandelions are carpet bombing the area. And then in the time you have left, it does rain from time to time. And what if you need to cut the grass? Or what if your neighbour decides to cut his? It’s a system predicated on an atmospheric stability that is a little scarce around here. It’s kind of expensive too. Each tray used a can of paint. I only just barely got the third coat on the biggest tray, and it’s not the biggest tray I make.
Now before DuPont sues me for libel or something, here’s the good news. No brush marks, for one. It’s a very even coat, if you do it right. If you had something that was very oddly shaped, this would be a much easier way to paint than using a brush. The enamel is a tough paint, and will resist wear. And if you have something that has multiple materials, the enamel will stick equally well to wood and metal (and plastic, these days). Bottom line is that while this may be a good method for working in a few difficult circumstances, I’m unlikely to rely on it as my main method for painting.
I know you want me to quit yammering and just jump to the summary. How do they look? Here you go!
And because we want our trays to nest, here’s how they look when they’re put together. Voila!