Quick weekend project: kitchen tray

Dremel 4000 blueprint - mitre joint

A mitre joint

Saturday was cold, with the temperatures hovering below -20°C, so our little family hunkered down and stayed warm inside. Between doing some creative math with Des, watching a movie, enjoying Mari’s cooking, and taking a family nap, there was just enough time for me to make a little something for our kitchen. Until now, we’ve had our oil and vinegar bottles and other miscellany sit in an old shoe box lid on a kitchen counter. Replacing this storage solution with something a little nicer and sturdier has been on the “To Do” list for a while.

The half-finished Bento Box had given me a pretty good primer on making a rectangular frame, although this time everything was done with 4mm plywood. Unlike the Bento Box, the tray is long and narrow, over 60cm in length but only 20cm wide. Its sides are made out of 4.5cm-wide plywood strips that were fitted together with mitre joints. The same shaky little mitre box that I cobbled together a week ago, and almost threw out right after, came in very handy for cutting the 45° angles with a utility saw, though once again the 4.5cm plywood pieces were too tall for it and I had to eyeball the initial portion of every cut. Nevertheless, the final fit of the tray’s sides was pretty darn good.

Despite the frame corners lining up quite well, I still had to struggle a bit to put the tray’s bottom on properly, and this time it had nothing (well, little) to do with my poor sawing. In a nutshell, 4mm plywood isn’t a solid and sturdy material. It bends, flexes and curves, and so, while the tray’s corners were more or less 90°, its long 60cm+ sides were arched so that the tray’s frame was over a centimeter narrower in the middle than at the sides. I used an extra strip of plywood to keep the long sides spread to the right distance in the centre, but thanks to plywood’s flexibility, they were still more sinusoidal than straight.

To make sure the tray would come out more or less rectangular and with straight sides, I ended up attaching the bottom in stages. I’d line up and glue one side to the bottom, and use my 2 C-clamps to hold things together until the glue set, then move on to the next side, and so on all around the box. Thankfully, the PVA adhesive grips quite quickly, and I was able to finish the gluing in about an hour. The final step was to smooth all edges and corners with the Dremel 432 sanding band.

Dremel 4000 - kitchen tray

Looks better than a shoe box! (With a well-deserved cup of coffee in the foreground.)

While I by no means claim to have mastered the mitre joint, I would really like to try a dovetail joint sometime soon. It’ll be interesting to see what I can do with a fret saw and a Dremel 🙂 .



  1. Mari

    Simple, nice and self-made! Thank you so much, baby! I had waited for it for quite a bit 🙂

    I suggest all good family men to make one oil-and-spice-box like that to their women.

  2. Pingback: Crack your knuckles, it’s finger joint time! « The Dremel Amateur
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