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Hi there! This will be my first instructable and I hope you enjoy it. I made this tray for my wife on our five year wedding anniversary. It turned out very nice, so I wanted to share it and give a little back to Instructables for helping to inspire me on other projects. This tray is made from non-toxic materials and is 100% food grade.

This project I would rate as a novice to intermediate difficulty. As long as you took a wood shop class in junior high and understand the very basics of layout, sawing, drilling, and sanding this project should be right up your alley. I will also run through all the important details and make this project as novice friendly as possible.

Cost wise this can be a bit of an expensive project if you don't already own the required tools. If you own the tools, cost will range about forty to eighty dollars depending on where you buy your supplies. Time wise, this project can be completed in one weekend. This project was entered in the hand tools only contest. Please vote for me if you enjoyed it!

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Required Tools:

  1. Hand Drill
  2. 7/8 Spade Drill Bit
  3. Phillips Driver
  4. Five #10x1-1/2 Stainless Sheet Metal Screws
  5. Center Punch
  6. Sanding Block
  7. Drill Index
  8. Non-Toxic Wood Glue
  9. Coping Saw
  10. Heavy Rasp File
  11. Double cut Bastard File (not pictured)
  12. Carpenter's Tape Measure (not pictured)
  13. Scale
  14. Bar or quick clamps x5(minimum)
  15. Hand Saw
  16. Jeweler's File or Hobby Files (not pictured)
  17. Fire Extinguisher


Optional Tools:

  1. Variable Speed Drill
  2. Belt Sander
  3. Safety glasses
  4. Gloves


Materials:

  1. Wine barrel Stave 3-4 inch wide x3
  2. Wine Barrel Stave 1-2 inches wide x1
  3. Mineral Oil (minimum 8 fluid oz.)
  4. Beeswax (minimum 15 oz.)
  5. 60, 120, 220, and 600 grit sandpaper.

Step 2: Lay Out and Gluing the Tray

*Note* Be sure to glue over a disposable surface, newspaper for example.

It will be likely that unless you pick out the barrel staves yourself they will not be a perfect match to each other. So be sure to order at least two extra if buying online. I ordered mine form the website Wine Barrel Crafting. They are expensive though, and charge a $20.00 fee for orders under $300.00.

  1. Staves may still have nail stumps, pull these out first.
  2. Find the closest match with a one inch wide and three inch wide barrel stave.
  3. Clamp them together without any glue to determine if there will be any large gaps.
  4. Once a matching set is found, lightly sand the edges to be glued with 60 grit sandpaper and a sanding block to remove any dirt and grime.
  5. Place a moderate amount of glue on both edges being glued together.
  6. Smear it across the entire width and length of the two staves with your finger.
  7. If using bar clamps, place a folded thick piece of cardboard between the wood and the top and bottom of the clamp to prevent making marks from the clamps.
  8. Alternate and evenly space the clamps on the top and bottom of the staves to apply equal pressure. Be sure to leave a gap between the bars of the clamps and the top and bottom of the tray. (don't lay the staves directly on the clamps.)
  9. When tightening the clamps, the staves can be slightly bent up or down in order to get a better matching fit. Be sure to tighten the clamps enough to try and eliminate any gaps. Slight gaps are acceptable and will be filled later.
  10. Once clamped, use a damp disposable towel to wipe the excess glue off the top and bottom of tray. The glue at this stage is water soluble and we want to remove as much as possible, just be sure not to soak the wood.
  11. Drying times will vary with different glues, but to be safe allow to set over night.

Step 3: The Hearts (Optional)

I learned this simple process back in 7th grave wood shop class. So if you're reading this, thx Mr. Mo!!! It isn't necessary but adds some simple decor to your tray and is not a difficult process. Depending on your staves and personal preferences you may want to tweek some of the measurements slightly. I will use my measurements for this instructable. *Be sure to make all of your marks in pencil*

  1. Measure down 3-1/2 in and mark a straight line across the staves. Make two marks on each edge, then connect them with a straight edge.
  2. Mark the center of the line.
  3. Measure from the center 7/16 out towards both edges and mark.
  4. Center punch marks.
  5. Drill a pilot hole with an 1/8 in drill bit. This hole is to make drilling the "lobes" of the hearts easier with the spade bit and act as a guide.
  6. From the first center mark, measure down one inch. Be sure mark is centered, then punch. Drill with a 1/8 in drill bit.
  7. Drill out the lobes using the 7/8 spade bit.

*Some notes on using a spade bit*

  • First an foremost drill slowly!! These bits are a bits more sloppy and aggressive than bi-metal hole saws. But for what we need it for they are well suited to this task.
  • When drilling your hole try to be as square to your tray as possible to drill straight holes.
  • Do not drill all the way through in one pass. Stop periodically to clean out the shavings, and when you are nearing the other side of the hole, turn your tray over and drill from the other side like in the above picture. Failure to do this results in a 'blow-out' where the bit will break off large slivers of wood on the exit hole.
  • Practice this on a scrap piece first before drilling your project.

Step 4: Cutting Out the Hearts (still Optional)

  1. Using a Straight edge, mark a line from the edge of the heart lobes to the edge of the 1/8 hole.
  2. Remove the blade from the coping saw, insert the blade through the holes.
  3. Reattach the blade and cut along the marked lines. Cut these slowly and keep the blade perpendicular to the tray. A little patience here will save some work later.
  4. Using the jeweler's file or hobby files, clean the edges until even. Take your time with this step to make the hearts look nice and clean.

*Note on using files*

  • Files are only designed to cut in the forward motion. Moving the file in a 'back and forth' manner will lead to highly aggressive material removal and blow out. When in doubt, go slow.

Step 5: Tray Feet

For the bottom feet of the tray use the ugliest 3 in. wide stave you have.

  1. Measure in from the edge of the length of the stave 7-1/4 inches on both ends. Mark a straight line.
  2. When cutting, the angle of the cut depends on your preference. I made a 90 degree cut and it looks nice.
  3. After cutting the ends off, save them for later use.
  4. Place the newly cut piece of a flat surface and observe any gaps or rocking between the stave and the flat surface.
  5. Sand with a block and 60 grit paper to make piece stable. There is no science or method in this step. Just go slow and constantly check your piece on the flat surface.

Step 6: Attaching Feet and Tray Part A

This step is where you will need to have a lot of patience. But it will pay off if done correctly.

*Remember, measure twice cut once!*

Because of the curve of the staves, there is not much surface area between the tray and the feet when they touch. This would make the area we have to put in screws very narrow and make a weak joint. So we will need to flatten both edges to create some more surface area. This is where the belt sander will come in handy. Belt sanders are great for removing massive amount of material quickly. If you don't have one (like me) get ready for almost two hours of filing /barf! When using the belt sander use safety glasses, gloves, and be sure you have no loose hanging jewelry, clothes, or hair. This is a powerful tool and unless you have experience with one, I would recommend using the hand files.

If you have a belt sander:

  1. Mark the center of the top of the feet, and the bottom of the tray, and center punch. This mark is used as a reference so we don't start removing to much material on one side of the center.
  2. Start sanding directly over the center punch letting the weight of the sander do the work.
  3. Constantly check the pieces and make sure you are sanding them down evenly and square by placing them on a flat surface and each other. GO SLOW!
  4. If you sand off your center part, re-measure and re-punch.
  5. Sand until you are confident you have removed enough even material to accommodate 5 screws.

No belt sander:

  1. The method is basically the same as above but using the rasp and bastard files. When filing these pieces, place your file at 45 degrees to your work and file in a straight line. Filing at a 45 degree angle will remove material a little bit faster.
  2. Be sure to check your work constantly. One way to check you filed surfaces for an even surface is to drag a piece of soapstone lengthwise on the narrow edge across the filed area. Any high surface with be marked with the soap stone.
  3. File these areas with the bastard file and 60 sand paper for a final flat profile.

Step 7: Attaching Feet and Tray Part B

Choosing a drill bit for pilot hole for a screw:

Whenever using screws in wood you need to drill a pilot hole first or your project will split. To choose the correct bit, place a bit over the top of the shank of the screw. If you can't see the edges of the threads, the bit is to big. If you can see the threads and the shank, its to small. You should only see the threads. For this project I used a 1/8 in drill bit, but screw sizes will vary between manufactures slightly.

  1. Drill the center mark of the legs ONLY.
  2. Drill a countersink on the bottom of the legs just deep enough to make the top of the screw flush with the hole. The drill bit for the countersink should be only slightly bigger round than the head of the screw, I used a 15/32 bit. I know sheet metal screws are a bit overkill here, but I wanted a sturdy project.
  3. Drive a screw (be sure they are stainless) just far enough threw the legs so the point is just protruding through the hole.
  4. Re-punch the center mark on the bottom of the tray. Use the center punch mark and screw to line the two holes up.
  5. Place the tray on a flat surface, step back and make sure the lay-out looks good. If not, recheck your center and re-punch/drill as necessary. Once you pass this step you are committed to the lay out of your project.
  6. Once satisfied, from the center mark on the legs, measure one inch out towards the ends on both sides of your center mark and mark a line. On that line, measure 3/4 inch out from your center towards both edges, mark an X. You should have four new marks.
  7. Center punch and drill using your bit for screws and counter sink.
  8. Drive your screws like before with only the tips protruding.
  9. With the tray facing down line your two center up and carefully place the feet and tray together making sure not to use any downward pressure causing unnecessary marks from your screws.
  10. Square your feet to your tray by measuring on the left and right side of your center, the distance from the edge of the feet to the edge of the tray. The further away from the center this measurement is taken, the more accurate it will be.
  11. Once centered, carefully apply downward pressure to the legs and rock them back and forth. This will create marks from the protruding screws, effectively punching holes for where to drill on the tray.
  12. Remove the feet.
  13. In order to drill to the proper depth on the tray with a hand drill without drilling completely through, wrap a piece of duct tape 9/16 down the shaft of the bit. When drilling and the tape touches the tray, you are the the correct depth. This is called a blind hole.
  14. Drill the four blind holes.
  15. Attach the legs to the tray, go slow so not to strip the holes.
  16. ALMOST DONE!!!!!

Step 8: Sanding

Get ready to break out the ol' elbow grease because these staves are rough!

  1. First start with the 60 grit. Sand EVERYTHING!. All surfaces and edges. Eliminate or reduce any uneven edges from gluing. Be sure to eliminate any possible splinter and rough edges. No one wants extra fiber with their cheese and wine. And if you show it to guests, I guarantee you the first thing they will do is rub the top of the tray to see how smooth it is. We want to avoid splinters under finder nails.
  2. Only sand with the grain, never against it.
  3. Be conservative with the 60 grit. All we want to do is blend the edges and eliminate splinters. We want to keep as much of that nice purple color as possible. No worries if it fades a little though. Personally I wanted my tray to look a little rough so i was conservative with the 60 git.
  4. After sanding for a bit close your eyes and run your hand along the surfaces of the tray. Any snags or pokes need to be sanded down.
  5. Once you're satisfied move to the 120 grit. I only used the 120 on the tray surface and edges for a rough look to my tray. Eliminate any marks made with the 60 grit. When these are gone, it is time to move to a finer sand paper.
  6. After some moderate sanding move to the 220 and 600 respectively. By the time you're done the tray show be slicker than snot on a door knob.

Step 9: Finishing and Sealing

Choosing a sealant and finish is a personal choice on what you want for functionality and maintenance. If you want to use this tray for food you have to use a non-toxic food grade sealant. Some examples are: mineral oil, walnut oil, tung oil, and linseed oil. Most of these require thorough cleaning and reapplication though, otherwise they have the potential to go rancid.

I chose a combination of mineral oil (or butcher block oil) and beeswax. It is a strong and very low maintenance seal. It will also help to fill any minor cracks and gaps your tray may have. The waxy finish will also bring out that purple color of the wine stains. Both of the can be found in crafting stores like Michaels. I found the recipe on this site. The recipe calls for 1/5 the volume of beeswax to mineral oil. I had a 16 fl oz container of butcher block oil and only used half in case I messed the sealant up. And I bought a 15 oz beeswax bar. Here is my math:

fl oz = oz so, 8.0 fl oz oil = 8.0 oz wax

1/5 = 0.2

8.0 oz wax x 0.2 = 1.60 oz wax

  1. Roughly divide the bar in half, then divide it into five equal pieces.
  2. Place on a scale and measure our 1.60 oz of wax.
  3. *SAFETY* Mineral oil is petroleum based and has a fairly low flash point, so never heat on high heat or an open flame and have a fire extinguisher on stand by for safety. It is also toxic in its liquid state, so anything used to prep this seal is no longer safe for making food. Make sure to ventilate the area well, because it WILL stink.
  4. Heat the oil in a sauce pan over LOW HEAT. Break the wax into small pieces and add to the oil. Stir constantly until the wax dissolves.
  5. After all the wax dissolves pour into a jar and allow to cool.
  6. Now test your sealant on a piece of scrap wood.
  7. Sand the stave scrap to spec as you did your tray.
  8. Wipe a generous amount of sealant on with a disposable rag (old socks work well) and allow to dry for about 15 min.
  9. After 15 min wipe the access seal of with a rag and allow the scrap to dry for 6 hours.
  10. After drying, lightly sand the scrap with 600 grit sandpaper till smooth. Re-coat and repeat previous steps and drying time. If you're happy with the result apply to the tray.
  11. I recommend at least two coats. If you have larger gaps you may need three or four coats.

Step 10: FINISHED!!!!!

Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading! I'll be happy to ask any related questions you may have. Please vite for me in the Hand Tools only contest.

<p>Leaks really neat.</p><p>Mineral oil isn't toxic by the way, it's actually a laxative. But yes, it's flash point is much lower then other cooking oils (335f vs. about 621 for vegetable oil), though still several times that of kerosine (130f).</p>
Yes it is used as a laxitive. The product I used gave specific instructions not to ingest orally, probably just as a lawsuit preventative. I just wanted to relay that for the same reason.
<p>That's such a cool idea and it came out so pretty! Thanks for sharing!</p>
glad you like it!

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Bio: I'm a sheet metal fabricator and welder. Amature blacksmith, woodworker, and Master Builder. If it involves tools, sweat, and danger, I like it! I ... More »
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