Making a Spline Walnut Tray

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In “How to Make a Spline Tray,” Newton Makes guides viewers through the detailed process of creating a wooden tray enhanced with splines for added strength and aesthetic appeal.

The project begins with designing the tray in Inkscape, where Newton Makes crafts two templates—one for the long side and one for the short side of the tray.

The goal is to create a tray that looks simple yet has character, achieved by adding feet and a rounded profile to the bottom.

The construction starts with gluing the templates onto hardboard or MDF, which serves as a perfect material for making precise templates. After cutting out the templates on the bandsaw and refining them to the exact lines through sanding, Newton Makes moves on to milling walnut to about 5/8 of an inch thick for the tray’s body. He emphasizes the importance of not making the tray look too chunky, opting for a thinner aesthetic.

At the table saw, the walnut is cut down to width and length, aiming for a tray size of about 7 inches wide by 12 inches long, though these dimensions are adjusted based on visual preference rather than strict measurements. The use of a template ensures that all parts of the tray are uniform, allowing for quick and precise replication of the design on the workpieces.

Joinery is achieved through miter joints, cut at the table saw with the miter gauge set at 45 degrees. For the tray’s bottom, a piece of walnut is milled to fit snugly into the tray, with special attention paid to ensuring it doesn’t add unnecessary bulk.

The highlight of the project is the addition of splines at the corners of the tray, not only reinforcing the miter joints but also adding a decorative touch. Newton Makes uses a simple spline jig at the table saw to cut slots for the splines, which are made from maple to contrast with the walnut. After gluing the splines in place and sanding them flush, the tray is finished with Osmo for a durable and attractive finish.

This video is a comprehensive guide to creating a spline tray, showcasing Newton Makes’ meticulous approach to woodworking and design. The project is accessible to woodworkers of all levels, offering insights into template making, joinery, and finishing techniques.

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