Sewing Tray

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Project by Don Johnson posted 10-03-2012 12:32 PM 2282 views 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

On the table in the pub where we had lunch during a day out on Exmoor last Saturday was a tray made from 5/8 inch thick plywood. It had two dividers, creating four compartments into which were placed salt and pepper pots and various packs of sauces and other condiments. “That’s just what I need”, said my wife, Avril, “to store my sewing ‘bits’ that I have to keep moving from my sewing room down to the lounge and back again – it just needs to be a little bit bigger”.

Well, a directive from SWMBO cannot be taken lightly, so I started thinking about how to satisfy her wish. Rather than use thick plywood and corner finger joints, I thought about repeating making a tray using the Britboxmaker method described at (but just using a router). I wouldn’t need to cut rebates/dados for a base as this would be ‘bottomless’ but used upside down, but instead cut some to locate the dividers.

I used some 1/4 inch oak-veneered MDF left over from another project, and very quickly cut the necessary grooves, both square and 45 degrees, and glued and clamped the tray – its such a simple method for something like this, and ends up with perfect joints without any effort.

For the dividers, I had one nearly square piece of similar 3/16 inch thick board, but its width was really just too short to make the longest divider – even though the grain was in the right direction across the board. So I set my saw to cut the correct width including the handle, intending to cut it lengthwise, but then got a ‘phone call. When I got back to the workshop I cut the board to the correct width, but across the board instead of lengthwise – Doh! I wonder how many times this has happened.

As I had no more board available of the correct thickness (I couldn’t recut the dados as the tray was by now glued) I had to use the cut piece – which just about stayed in the dados, but needed some filler to hid the gaps at the top. Anyway, Avril is delighted with the result, so once again my thanks to Britboxmaker for publishing his technique.

The fourth picture shows the tray with some ‘bits’ inside, sitting on one of Avril’s patchwork quilts.

-- Don, Somerset UK,

7 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3773 days

#1 posted 10-03-2012 04:41 PM

Super looking tray Don and a interesting story and details to go with it.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View mandag's profile


4 posts in 2257 days

#2 posted 10-03-2012 08:02 PM

this is great

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3110 days

#3 posted 10-03-2012 09:21 PM

I have thought about something like this as a serving tray for condiments. I like this and you did well. Thanks for sharing.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Kookaburra's profile


748 posts in 2420 days

#4 posted 10-03-2012 09:26 PM

This is a great way to use that very clever approach. And this would be a very handy “tool box” for artists of almost any kind. I am putting this on my to-do list!

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 2604 days

#5 posted 10-03-2012 10:30 PM

Nice job. Hope my sister doesnt see it! LOL

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View Don Johnson's profile

Don Johnson

702 posts in 2977 days

#6 posted 10-04-2012 11:16 AM

Thanks for the nice comments.

Looking at the tray standing on my revolving bookcase ( similar to this one: ) I realised that the BritBoxmaker method would be ideal for making its two central square columns. Assembling from four separate beveled pieces and trying to get everything square is a challenge that would be avoided by 45 degree grooving one piece – and the grain pattern would match nicely on three of the corners.

I would need to rout five grooves, and cut off the two edge strips in the same way as the corner sections are removed for boxes. The only difficulty would be cutting the central groove on my benchtop router as the fence would not move far enough away from the cutter, but that could be solved if I knock up a temporary board with a guide that would be about 9 inches from the centre of a hole cut for the router bit to pop up through. Fixing this board would be with countersunk screws through the slots used for the fence.

I’d been thinking of making another bookcase, and making the central columns this way would certainly make the job easier.

-- Don, Somerset UK,

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3232 days

#7 posted 10-04-2012 02:17 PM

Looking good, Don. Glad to see you enjoying yourself.

The technique is ideal for long lengths, ie pillars. An alternative would be to route freehand against a straightedge clamped to the board.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

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