Square decorative trays made out of ash wood and thermally treated ash wood

this is our set of three DIY ash wood trays after we applied two coats of oil

Last days we played with some ash wood to build a set of three square decorative trays. Actually, we combined ash wood and thermally treated ash wood: the same species, but different colors. Besides the wood species, we laminated the thermally treated ash wood strip diagonally. This was another thing that made these trays look special. And finally, we routed the inside of the trays by using a bowl and tray router bit, which made our work a lot easier.

the bawl router bit needed to route the inside of our ash wood serving trays
The bowl and tray router bit

However, the most important part of the entire work was the manually sanding process of the small wooden trays.

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How to make square decorative wooden trays

Now, let’s see how to build this set of small trays, step by step:

1.Take two boards: an ash wood board and a thermally treated ash wood one.

2. Cut them to the needed length

cutting the thermally treated ash wood board at the length needed for our DIY project
Cutting the ash wood board at the right length

3. Cut a thermally treated ash wood strip. It should be at least 2.5 cm wide

we cut the thermally treated ash wood board in order to get one strip needed for the trays
Cutting the thermally treated ash wood strip
this is the thermally treated ash wood strip we used to build these DIY trays
The thermally treated ash wood strip

4. Plane them both and square one face and one edge

5. Plane and square the other two faces of your boards using the thickness planer

6. Draw a diagonal line on the ash wood board

we marked a diagonal line to cut the ash wood plank
Marking the diagonal line

7. Cut the ash wood board with a band saw. You can also use other cutting tools. The most important thing is to be cut as good as possible.

diagonal cutting of the ash wood plank using the bandsaw
The diagonal cut

8. Flip the cut pieces of the ash wood board in order to have the planed edges inwards.

we cut diagonally the ash wood plank
The diagonal cut of the ash wood plank

After all these steps you will get these three boards needed for the trays

the three ash wood planks needed to be glued
The ash wood planks and the thermally treated ash wood strip

9. Place the thermally treated ash wood strip in the middle to make a fitting test. If they fit well, you can go to the next step

we made a matching test in order to be sure everything fitted fine
Matching the three ash wood boards

10. Apply the adhesive on the edges of the white boards (we used polyurethane adhesive – PU).

we applied the PU adhesive on the edges of the ash wood planks
The PU adhesive is applied
PU adhesive used to glue the three ash wood boards
The polyurethane adhesive used

11. Tighten all the boards very well, so there are no gaps. Then, let the glue harden.

we tightened the ash wood planks using a lot of C clamps
Tightening the ash wood planks

12. Remove the glue excess using a belt sander or a chisel.

13. Plane the resulting board on each face and on the edges, to get the required dimensions.

14. Draw the lines to mark each tray:

  • first mark the width of each tray. Leave a gap between them. You need the gap in order to have enough space to cut each tray
  • draw the lines to define the inside and the outside of each square tray. We left 7 mm (thickness) for their walls

We marked five trays, but in the end we routed and finished only three of them

we marked the width of each tray and we draw the lines that define the outside and the inside of each tray
Drawing the lines that marked each tray

15. Build a template in order to route with ease the inside of the trays. We used a scrap piece of plywood and two wooden strips that we screwed so we had a distance between them equal to the width of the trays. We cut out the plywood in order to get a width equal to the inside of the trays

we matched the plywood template on the ash wood plank
Matching the plywood template on the ash plank
the plywood template used to route the inside of the trays
The plywood template

16. Tighten the board on a workbench before starting to route the inside of the trays

we fixed with C clamps the ash wood board before routing the inside of our decorative trays
Tightening the ash wood board on the work table using F clamps

17. Tighten the template to the board using F clamps and align it to the drawn lines

we fixed the plywood template on the ash wood board in order to route the inside of the tray
Aligning the plywood template on the board

18. Start routing the inside of the trays using the bowl and tray router bit

the plywood template will be moved several times in order not to damage the bowl router bit
We started to route the inside of the trays

19. Move the template several mm, if it’s not as wide as the inside of the tray. Keep half a mm of depth for the final pass to avoid burning the inside corners

we had to move the plywood template in order to route the inside of the trays
the inside of our DIY trays after routing
The routed tray

20. Cut the tray using the outer guide lines

we cut the first ash wood tray using the sliding compound mitre saw
Cutting the first wooden tray
one unfinished tray after we routed the inside
The ash wood tray before sanding

21. Sand the outside edges. We used the belt sander fitted to a scrap board.

we fixed the band sander with two C clamps in order to sand the wooden trays
The belt sander fitted to a jig
sanding the outside edges of the wooden decorative trays by using the band sander
We sanded the edges of the trays using the belt sander

22. Round the outer corners

rounding the outer corners of the wooden trays
Rounding the outer corners

23. Sand the edges, the inside of the trays and all the sharp edges by hand. Use 80 grit sandpaper and then 120 grit to get the inside smooth. The final touch should be sanding with 320 grit sandpaper

the wooden decorative tray after sanding the inside with 120 grit sandpaper
The ash wood tray is sanded with 120 grit sandpaper

24. Apply a coat of oil on all surfaces of the trays. If the trays are going to be used for food, use a food safe oil.

this is our beautiful set of decorative wooden trays
The set of three wooden trays

25. After the first coat of oil dried, apply the second one

the three ash wood trays after two coats of oil applied
The set of three ash wood trays

That’s all! I can not stop taking photos. This set of decorative trays is great, so…

the round outer corners details of the wooden trays
The rounded outer corners
by using the plywood template, all our diy wooden trays have the same sizes
The ash wood and thermally treated ash wood grain
this is our set of three DIY ash wood trays after we applied two coats of oil
The set of three DIY ash wood trays
the three square decorative ash wood trays
Our DIY ash wood trays
the finish of the edges without any circular saw traces
The edges finish of the decorative trays
a detail with the fine finish of our DIY decorative trays
The finish of our square trays
the detail with the finish of our threee decorative ash wood trays
Our ash wood decorative trays

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