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Nesting Trays Flat Rock MI

Prepare your stock, including extra pieces for test-cutting. Cut blanks for the ends (A1, B1 and C1, Fig. A, page 67) and sides (A2, B2 and C2) to length, but leave them 1/8 in. oversize in width. All the ends must be squarely cut.

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Nesting Trays

Nesting Trays

Eye-catching and practical, these handy carryalls are sure to please.

by Tim Johnson

Here’s your chance to cut lots of corners and still get great-looking results. These sturdy trays are easy to build, thanks to their simple box joints and template-routed curves. You don’t need a super-equipped shop, just a tablesaw with a dado set, a router table and a drill press. You’ve probably saved enough scrap pieces from other projects to build the trays and the jigs, but even if you buy lumber and plywood, you can make this trio of trays for less than $60. 

Cut the Box Joints

1. Prepare your stock, including extra pieces for test-cutting. Cut blanks for the ends (A1, B1 and C1, Fig. A, page 67) and sides (A2, B2 and C2) to length, but leave them 1/8 in. oversize in width. All the ends must be squarely cut.

2. Arrange the pieces for each box and then mark the bottom edge of every one. When you cut the box joints, these marks will correctly orient the pieces in the jig. 

3. Box-joint jigs index the workpiece for cutting sockets. (Photo 1). Cutting a series of sockets creates the pins. To make the joint, one piece has pins where the mating piece has sockets (see “ Tablesaw Box Joints ,”). 

4. Cut test box joints to dial in a precise fit. This is fussy work, because the tolerances are tiny. The pieces should slide together without binding or rattling. The best jigs have built-in adjustment systems. 

5. Cut all the box joints. On the end-piece blanks, cut sockets only as far as their curved profiles dictate. The side-piece blanks are oversize, so you’ll have to make an extra pass to complete the top sockets. 

Rout the Ends

6. Use the end profile of the large tray (A1, Fig. C, below) as a pattern when you make the routing jig (Fig. B, below). First, transfer the curved edge profile to the jig’s base. Then drill 1-in.-dia. holes with a Forstner bit to establish the ends of the handle hole. Finish rough-cutting the handle hole with a jigsaw. Then rough-cut the edge profile.

7. Smooth the edge profile using an oscillating spindle sander or a sanding drum in your drill press. Install a 3/4-in.-dia. spindle or drum to smooth the handle hole. 

8. Use a large end-piece blank to position the jig’s fence. Each end has six pins. Fasten the fence so the top pins are flush with the base’s curved profile.

9. Install the stops after centering the large end-piece blank. Mount the toggle clamps (see Sources, below).

10. Draw edge profiles and handle holes on all the end blanks after installing them in the jig. Make spacers (W, X, Y and Z, Fig. B) to position the medium and small blanks. 

11. Rough-saw all the curved profiles about 1/16 in. away from the pattern lines. To rough out the handle holes, drill 7/8-in.-dia. holes and use a jigsaw to saw out the waste.

12. Rout the edge profiles with a top-bearing flush-trim bit (Photo 2).

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