Circular trays with Dished centers on the Router #3: It's Router Time!

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Blog entry by HeirloomWoodworking posted 04-13-2009 02:11 AM 5979 reads 7 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Lets get ready to ROUTER!!! Part 3 of Circular trays with Dished centers on the Router series no next part

Welcome back Friends!

First an apology. It has been several days since I have offered to you the previous installments of this blog. Time constraints (kids, work, etc) and my desire to use video demonstrations of the technique have kept me from keeping you informed in a timely manner.

Well, today a window of opportunity has opened up. It is raining today, so turkey hunting, softball practice, and yard-work have been postponed. So I have been able to devote some time to my blog viewers. I spent the day in the shop playing with the router jig and a glued up blank of red oak similar to the items described in Parts #1 & #2 of this blog. I have also been trying my hand at developing a series of demonstration videos. I hope these videos are helpful for you to better understand the points that I am trying to convey to you.

I hope that you have had a chance to study the material contained in the initial 2 installments of this blog. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to read and follow this blog, the technique that I am trying to share with you involves the creation of a jig to use in conjunction with your router, to create large dished center serving trays.
Please take the time to scan the previously posted material offered, and use that information to create your own jig and special wood blank for use in the jig assembly.

A special note regarding the embeded videos in this blog
I have been struggling to correctly embed the videos that are listed below. I am going to go ahead and post this blog as you see it, and I will hopefully be able to soon get the job done correctly. For now, please click on the links listed to view the video. Thank you for your patience, Trev

Debris control
As stated in the first installment, a dust collection port is imperative to this technique. Your bit liberates a large amount of debris from your blank. This debris must be removed from the work area in a timely manner, or you will fight to spin the blank. You will find that if left to collect upon your work, the debris will find its way between the blank and the upper half of the jig (the router sled). This debris will create a jam condition, hindering your ability to spin the wood blank between the jig halves. This hinderance will cause you to use more and more pressure to spin the blank upon the hub. As you exert more and more pressure (and attention) to spinning the blank, your efforts become centered upon spinning the blank and not upon the router. A very unsafe condition.

If possible I have found it helpful to use a pair of vacuum nozzles to assist me. One attached to the router dust port, and the other I position over the blank to clean the freshly created debris from the blank (an extra pair of hands are very helpful here). In order to give the viewer a better angle during the creation of the videos for this blog, I chose not use the second nozzle so as to not block your vision of the work.

Use of stop Blocks
You router, regardless of the exact machine that you chose to use, exerts an large amount of pressure. It is your job to proper and safely harness this pressure.

Always use a stop block firmly clamped to the sides of the jig. Trust me, without stop blocks, you will not be able to control your router adequately, and you will end up making inaccurate cuts as your router bit tries to take ever increasingly larger bites from your wood blank. The bit will race across the work possibly ruining your work.

Direction of blank spin
Consider your router bit rotation. You always want to bring the work to the bit. Do not allow the bit to bite its own way around the blank. This will cause your whirling router bit to act as a drive gear on the blank. Thus, spinning your blank at wildly dangerous speeds, that you will never be able to control safely.

The goal here it bring the work to the cutting surface of the bit.

Notice the picture above, I have labeled my jig with an A and a B side. When cutting with the A side of the bit, always spin the blank in the counter-clockwise direction. When using the B side of the bit, always spin the blank in the clockwise direction.

Every time you change your cutting situation, consider the proper direction of rotation. It is a very unpleasant situation to loose control of your blank, as the router rips it from your hand.

Before you turn on your router…
I can not understate my hope and prayer that you always keep proper router safety measures in place at all times during the usage of this router jig, including (but not limited to):
-never start your router while the bit is touching the work. Make sure you router is running at full speed, and then take it to the work.
-never ask more of your router and bit combination, than it can perform safely. Do not make cuts that are deeper than your set-up can handle.
-always maintain control of your work. Use the recommended stop blocks, keep downward pressure upon your router so that is stays seated safely in the router sled, and keep a firm grip on the wood blank as you spin it into the router bit.
-always wear proper eye and ear protection

Cutting the outermost edge
The first cut you need to make, to your blank, is the one that will define the overall size of finished project. This is a straight cut, we will add rim embellishments near the end of the project.

I suggest that you make the outer edge cut in stages. #1-Set your stop block so that your bit makes its cut a 1/16th of an inch or less outside the desired finished circumference. Make the initial cut approximately half way through the blank.

#2-Lower your bit so that the bit completely cuts through the bank. Creating a perfectly round blank.

*Please Click the link below to view the video*

#3-Move your stop block for a third cut, such that the bit cuts the entire blank edge in this pass. This cut will create the final size of the finished product, and remove any of the tooling marks from the edge created in the previous cuts. Please Click the link below to view the video

Dishing the Center
Chose a starting point for your dish cuts that is in the outer half of the blank. This starting point will aid you in debris removal.

Since both the A and B sides of the router bit will be contact with the work. Place firmly clamped stop blocks on both sides of the router.

Begin with your router bit raised so that it is not in contact with the work. Start the router and bring it to full song. Carefully lower into the work the desired depth. Secure the depth control of the router and rotate the blank. Please Click the link below to view the video

After the initial cut, and frequently during the subsequent cuts, remove as much of the liberated debris as possible.

For your subsequent dish cuts, begin with the router OFF, move your stop blocks in the desire direction, either towards the center of the work or towards the outer edge.

When moving your stop block for you next cut do not move the block further that the diameter of your bit. Reminder, when restarting your router make sure your bit is not touching the work, then take the bit into the work until the router is firmly against the stop block, and rotate the blank the full circumference.

Continue to repeat this process moving your stop block and cutting another circumference from the work, until you have removed the desired amount of material from the center of the blank. Please Click the link below to view the video

Note I do not use the same bit used for removing the center debris (a ½” straight bit), to make my final cuts at the inner edge of the rim. (more on those rim cuts later). Make a pencil mark on the blank face representing the rim width, and make your initial edge cuts up to an 1/8” from your mark.

Dish Depth
If you wish to increase the dish depth of your finished project, simply repeat the dishing process (allowing for the cut limitations of you router/bit combination) until you have reached an agreeable tray depth. This may make several depth adjustments necessary.

Rim details
The rim profile defines the finished tray, and like any personal work of art, the choice of profiles to finish the tray rim is fully dependant upon the personal choices of the craftsman.

The woodworker can choose any router bit in his/her arsenal. Round-over, bevel, ogee the list limited only to the bits at the craftsman’s disposal, or for that matter perhaps you chose to use hand tools such as files and scrapers to create your rim. I encourage you to experiment and create a profile that pleases you.

The style that I have chosen for most of my projects involves several cuts. For the first cut on the rim I choose to use a core box bit to define the inner rim edge and give a fillet look to the point that the rim meets the tray surface. This Cut will be made to the pencil line we created in the dishing out process discussed above.

I then choose to give the top of the inner rim edge a slight round-over curve. To accomplish this I use either simple sanding, or a small router bit with the bearing stud ground off.

With the inner rim edge profile completed you can now remove the wood blank from the jig, and remove the axle from the work. If you glued the axle in place as instructed in previous installments, simple use a scraper or putty knife struck lightly with a mallet to break the glue joint. Sand the excess glue and paper from the back of the work.

Keeping with the round over theme I use 2 slightly larger round-over bits to define the outside rim edges (upper and lower). This is most easily accomplished on the router table.

I also choose to make my lower outside rim edge cut deep enough to slightly expose the side of the bit cutting surface to the work. This gives the tray bottom a foot like appearance.

Here is a simple picture, demonstrating the profile and bit selection that I normally choose, but please use your own tastes to create you own unique rim profile.

Congratulations! You have now created a dished tray with your router and jig.

After routering the tray will need considerable sanding or scraping to remove all of the tooling marks from the work. For my own work I opt to use a random orbit sander and increasingly finer grit papers, until the tray and rim surfaces are suitable for my own tastes.

As you know there also seemingly limitless options for protective finish materials. Your decisions for finish materials should include consideration as to how this tray will be used. Since these projects will be used in a variety of situations, I recommend going with a finish material that is extremely durable, such as polyurethane varnish.

In Conclusion
Thank You Lumberjocks, for indulging me and allowing me this opportunity to share with you this technique.

The dished trays, shown in this blog, are but one example of the many uses that this technique can be used to create a myriad of works. It is my hope that you are able to experiment with the jig for you own creative projects.

Keep up the good work

-- Trevor Premer Head Termite and Servant to the Queen - Heirloom Woodworking

8 comments so far

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2505 posts in 2855 days

#1 posted 04-13-2009 02:34 AM

I like it! Thanks for the detailed procedure for this. It would be nice if we could get a simple diagram or a couple of picts of just the jig. That top picture of the finished product is really nice.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View HeirloomWoodworking's profile


238 posts in 3157 days

#2 posted 04-13-2009 02:38 AM

A dimensioned detailed drawing is included in the Part #1 of the blog

Thanks for the kind words

-- Trevor Premer Head Termite and Servant to the Queen - Heirloom Woodworking

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 3664 days

#3 posted 04-14-2009 12:28 AM

Thanks Trevor, that is so cool, when I first saw these I thought man that is some big wood for the lathe. I could’nt believe you did it with a router. Did you come up with the jig on your own? I would have to say, way cool. You have a very unique mind. Right up there with GaryK. I am going to try and make this when I get back on my feet. By the way that is a huge walleye, where did you catch him. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View PCorl's profile


65 posts in 2797 days

#4 posted 04-14-2009 02:50 AM

I really like this process. Thanks for the demo.

View HeirloomWoodworking's profile


238 posts in 3157 days

#5 posted 04-14-2009 05:07 AM


I took the idea for this jig and technique from the book ”The Complete Illustrated Guide to Shaping Wood” by Lonnie Bird. I heartily recommend this to wood workers of all skill levels as there are many great ideas, techniques and projects detailed in the nearly 300 pages.

You can view the jig creation and dimensions in the first instalment of the blog “Getting Started”

The walleye is a Canadian fish, taken on Ontario’s Lac Seul in Aug. of 2008. An absolutely incredible fishery! We fish out of William’s Lake Lodge. Ken and Kathy are some of the worlds greatest people. You can see their website at:
The walleye in that pic was barely 29” long but weighed an honest 9lbs! An absolute pig! We measured, weighed and released her back into those beautiful waters…..gawd I can’t wait to get back there.

I hope you are feeling up to getting into the shop soon my friend


-- Trevor Premer Head Termite and Servant to the Queen - Heirloom Woodworking

View Dusty56's profile


11800 posts in 3105 days

#6 posted 04-14-2009 05:31 AM

I’ve got to give this a whirl ! Thanks for posting such a fine blog and videos to boot ! Nice going on that Walleye …Catch and Release is my way of fishing too. : )
ps: would a bowl bit eliminate some of that sanding ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Rocketman's profile


2 posts in 2931 days

#7 posted 04-25-2009 06:18 PM

Thanks for taking the time and effort to share such a great project. You did a phenomenal job with the explanations and the photos! I can’t wait to try it myself.

Best of luck with the fishing!

-- Rocketman, Huntsville, AL

View Starwarz's profile


1 post in 2039 days

#8 posted 03-24-2011 01:22 AM

Trev I absolutely am blown away by the hope chests you made for both daughters. I would love to get the measurements and the type of wood. My daughter is turning 18 and this would rock her world. If you have
Anything that could help me make one of these I sure would appreciate it. My friend has a neat workshop. He said
I could use his shop while I make it. Trev I am just a Dad like you but have been given a curve ball. I was in a head on collision on Feb.25,2008. I have had three years of MRI”s,x-rays,catscans,physical therapy,chiropractors and injections. I am able to walk but not without severe pain and discomfort on my right side,lower back,and the sciatic
Nerve down to my foot. I will be on pain pills the rest of my life. Surgery is imminent but they are trying different meeds. And hoping that one of them will give me relief. I am telling you all this because as a father I so want to give my daughters the best memories I can give them. I can’t run,bend much,throw a ball,bowl,kick a ball etc. But what I could do with my own hands is give them a hand made hope box made with love… Thx.

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