Simple Trays: End-routing Lyptus is hard (and other lessons)

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Project by Dan Lyke posted 04-02-2008 10:57 PM 3055 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When we bought our house recently, we used the real estate agent services from, and Ernesto and Angelo, the two folks we dealt with from there, were awesome. We wanted to show our appreciation for their efforts in some personal way, and one of the things that the house has given us is a shop, so we thought we’d make some trays. We went and got some beautiful maple burl veneers, and a bunch of lyptus, and some baltic birch, and we asked at the store how they recommended attaching the veneers, and they sold us contact cement, and a $7 brush to apply it with.

I didn’t notice the price on the brush ‘til we got home, but I think that it was given to us as a “one time use” thing should have given me more pause.

So we dutifully applied the contact cement, pressed on our veneers, left ‘em in the shop. Of course they bubbled, so we took our iron (yes, we have an iron in the shop), pressed ‘em back down, and then went on to cutting the side pieces on our new Leigh 24 Super dovetail jig.

Came back to the bottoms and, as anyone who’s used contact cement to attach veneers could probably tell me, they’d completely torn themselves apart. In talking with some experienced woodworkers we’ve since learned that you want a really hard glue for this, apply smoothly, let dry and iron together, as DaveT talks about in his skill share post.

Time constraints meant that we dropped back to some basic 1/4” birch veneer ply we had lying around.

And it also took us several passes through the Lyptus to get dovetails we were happy with. The Leigh jig was awesomely easy to adjust compared to the horrific ShopFox jig it replaced, but Lyptus has this huge long grain that tears out like crazy, so I learned to tape my ends (so that at the very least I had a prayer of finding the big splinters and gluing ‘em back in), and to try to cut in the middle of the template, and then clean out the space with climb cutting.

This was also my first real use of my homebuilt router table, showing both that a router table is a wonderful tool (Charlene, my partner, dislikes using a router hand held, but the router table won her over), but also that we need to budget for a beefier and better adjustable router for it.

Finishing was sanding to 220, then two layers of wet-sanded shellac followed by two layers of hand rubbed oil based polyurethane. Still searching for that perfect finish, but I think we’re getting better and closer.

Similar notes on our web site.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

8 comments so far

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3890 days

#1 posted 04-03-2008 01:29 AM

Looks like a nice job. I’m sure they will appreciate the effort it took to build these.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3816 days

#2 posted 04-03-2008 02:44 AM


These look pretty good to me. I am sure the gift was appreciated.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3982 days

#3 posted 04-03-2008 07:02 AM

Great gift and a great job making them.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3682 days

#4 posted 07-22-2008 01:26 AM

thanks for sharing the info on the correct glue and the tough time you had with the Lyptus…I saw at my local Woodcraft store that they have a specific glue there just for veneering….have a great day : )

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

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 3817 days

#5 posted 08-06-2009 03:48 PM

Awesome trays, love those dovetails.

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

View Martina's profile


43 posts in 3218 days

#6 posted 08-14-2009 04:57 PM

These are GREAT! I love platters…. or more I love the food that I can put on them to serve!!!

-- Martina, Houston, TX

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3571 days

#7 posted 08-25-2009 07:04 AM

nice trays they look great

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View danr78's profile


74 posts in 3042 days

#8 posted 12-05-2012 09:10 AM

Great job! This story cracked me up because I am a self taught woodworker and most of my lessons have come just like this…the hard way:). Your trays look great and I love the dovetails!

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