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Woodworking with P. Michael Henderson


Making an Eight Sided Serving Tray

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Earlier I did a tutorial on how to make a rectangular tray. I consider that a "beginning" project and wanted to offer a more complex tray project.

This tray has eight sides and the veneer is laid in a sunburst pattern. I also used walnut burl for the sunburst, which is a "difficult" veneer to use for a sunburst and requires special handling when cutting and fitting.


If you find this tutorial to be valuable, I'd appreciate if you'd send me an e-mail at mike@mikes-woodwork.com with the subject line of "Eight Sided Tray".

This is the bottom of the tray - where we're heading in the first part of this tutorial.

You'll need the following tools and supplies for this project:

  1. 1/4" MDF for the substrate, approximately 18" around.
  2. Eight consecutive pieces of field veneer. I'm using walnut burl.
  3. Veneer for the banding. I used bloodwood and holly.
  4. Veneer for the border and back. I used walnut, and in the back, I laid it in as an 8 piece sunburst.
  5. 3/4" blue tape.
  6. Veneer tape.
  7. A sponge in a container of water to wet the veneer tape.
  8. A 24" rule. If you use a "center finding" rule some of the measurements will be easier.
  9. A straight edge about 24 inches long. Used when cutting the veneer.
  10. A filleti guide for cutting the banding.
  11. A template for cutting the sunburst segments. Since we're doing an eight piece sunburst,
    the template will be 45 degrees.
  12. A veneer saw.
  13. A knife or knives for cutting the veneer.
  14. A sharp chisel about 1/2" wide.
  15. A sanding block.
  16. A small combination square is valuable for laying out the pattern.
  17. A pencil.
  18. A hinged mirror. You really can't do a good sunburst without a hinged mirror.
  19. Glue to attach the veneer to the substrate. I used regular white glue.
  20. A veneer pressing system. I used a veneer bag and a vacuum pump

We begin by making the substrate. I cut what I need from a large piece of 1/4" MDF I have in the shop. I want the final tray to be about 18" across. I'll use a compass to draw a circle a bit smaller than the radius, or a bit less than 9". I'll set the compass from a rule.

I don't want to waste any of the MDF so I want my circle right against two of the sides. I can do that by drawing an arc from each side. The intersection of those two arcs will be the center of my circle.

Then, using a combination square, draw two lines through the center of the circle, perpendicular to each side.

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