We left off at a point where it would be a good idea to now do a dry-fit of the top to the apron.
Dry-fit the top to the apron. Before going further, now is a good time to dry-fit the slant top to the apron so that you can get the exact location of the dado which stores the metal stand when the desktop is closed.
With the metal stand flat against the back of the top, place the top on the right side of the apron, allowing a 1/2” overhang on front, left, and back. Carefully mark where the metal touches the stand holder to cut the dado so the metal stand will drop into holder.
Remove the top from the apron and cut the dado on the tablesaw or router, being careful not to cut too far and damage the end apron. Note: If the location isn’t absolutely perfect, you can fine tune it when you attach the top with hinges.
Legs with dowel. I used a 3/8” dowel. You could mortise in a piece about 1/4 – 3/8” thick by 1/2 – 3/4” high—anything to stabilize the legs. See hole location for pivot (below). Drill pivot holes in legs before assembling. Note: You can make the legs longer or shorter depending on the size of the person using the tray table. However, be certain to leave more than 5” from top of leg to cross-piece (dowel, etc.) so it will clear the drawer when closed.
Close-up of leg pivot detail. I cut a nail into about 3/8” pieces, then drilled an appropriately sized hole in the outside of the top of the legs.
Leg-to-apron assembly. When glue on leg assembly is thoroughly dry, hammer the pivot pin into the hole of each leg, then slide the leg assembly between the apron and into the appropriate hole. (You will need to carefully squeeze the legs slightly to get the pins to seat.) If the pins do not immediately seat themselves, use a clamp to squeeze them tight. Warning: Do not install the right end of the apron/drawer slide assembly until after the legs are installed.
Drawer slide. Make two drawer slide assemblies, making certain they are mirror-image to each other. Glue the mitered ends to the dovetailed portion, leaving the dovetail exposed.
Drawer slide detail. Add a piece to the drawer slide about 3/8” thick as shown. This will stabilize the assembly to the apron. Drill an elongated hole to attach the right tabletop to the apron.
Drawer slide assembly. Glue edges shown in red and assemble to main apron as shown.
Overall size of drawer. Double-check the drawer opening measurements to make the drawer fit into opening. You can use glue, brads and glue, or dovetails, depending on the time you wish to invest. You can purchase expensive jewelry box drawer slides, use a sliding dovetail, or just a dado and tongue.
Drawer bottom. Cut your dadoes for the drawer bottom the appropriate thickness for your piece of plywood (~1/4”).
Finishing. This is the point when I did my finishing. I felt it was easier before having the tops attached. Since the tops are not glued, you don’t have to worry about keeping finish off any parts of the assembly.
Assembling the top to the apron. It is easiest to first line up and install the hinges on the left tabletop. Once the left installation is complete, simply turn the table over, and screw in the two screws to hold the right tabletop in place, making certain that it lines up appropriately with the hinged tabletop. (You might want to slip a dime—or something of similar thickness—on each end of the joint between the two tops so they will not rub when opened and closed.) The elongated holes for the screws will allow for any expansion that may occur.
If you complete a tray table, we’ll enjoy seeing it in the projects section. If you have trouble following the instructions, please let me know so I can clarify them.
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