Whipping Up a Reclaimed Tray

Last week, Anita came home from Home Goods with a tray that she bought for $18.00. I took a look at it and thought to myself ” I coulda made that, but whatever”. Well, after she had it on our dining room table she decided that the sides of the tray were too high and asked me to make her one with shallower sides.

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I went into the basement and looked in a box that I filled with wood that came from an old pallet I tore apart. I know using pallet wood is frowned upon in the woodworking world, but it was free and has the character Anita was looking for.

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The first thing I did was grab a few pieces and planed them down only on one side to make them about 3/8″ thick. I then milled the boards to 3″ wide and glued them together. I used two old panel clamps that I bought last year at an antique show that excel at gluing thin boards together.

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The bars on each side prevent the boards from buckling up when clamping pressure is applied. I originally bought the clamps to sell them to make some quick cash, but I’m glad I never did. They work great!

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After the glue dried, I sanded the planed side on my Performax drum sander to make the bottom of the tray perfectly flat.

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Anita wasn’t thrilled with the gray color of the wood, so I used my Porter Cable Restorer and sanded the gray off the panel perpendicular to the grain. This allowed the wood to get cleaned up yet not lose its character.

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After the panel was sanded, Anita applied Weathered Oak stain to the pieces. You can see how the stain pops the grain, but still makes it look old.

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After the stain dried, I glued and nailed the sides to the bottom. The sides are 1 1/2″ wide x 1/2″ thick reclaimed pine.

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Anita installed some blacksmith made handles to the sides and placed it on our dining room table. A super quick and easy project that was made within just a few hours.

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Everyday Console Table

I call this piece the “everyday table” because you see this design everyday. I spotted this one at Home Goods just last week. It’s kind of a cross between a table and a bookcase. As far as construction goes, it’s very simple. Six framed legs with a top, a couple of shelves and a cross “X” on each side. In fact, there’s a website that shows how to build this table, pocket screws and all.

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Say what you want about the design and construction, but they are very popular and super easy to build. My wife found the website the other week and asked me to customize one to fit in our dining room as a coffee bar.

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Being true to form, I built ours out of southern yellow pine (2 x 10’s). I wasn’t a fan of the thick 2 x 4 legs so I milled all the parts down to 1″ thick.

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Keeping it simple, I used pocket screws and glue to attach all the pieces. The shelves are southern yellow pine boards I ripped and glued back together to create a quarter sawn panel so they wouldn’t expand and contract too much.

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The hardest part about building the piece are the X’s on the sides, but all that entails is cutting a couple of half lap joints.

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Here is the finished bar with a vinegar steel wool solution and gel stain on top to give the wood some depth. The coffee bar has turned more into a display table for my wife’s Rae Dunn collection, but that is another story for another day.

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I have since played around with the design again and built another one using eastern white pine. Construction is similar except I used floating tenons instead of pocket screws to build the frames. I’ll still use the vinegar and steel wool solution again on this one and stain it a dark color. My third design will probably have a thicker top and I may use plywood for the shelves. Stay tuned.

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