Build A Mahogany Butler's Tray

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Use your CNC machine and our program files to make this classic butler's tray. Or you can make it old-style, using our drawings below.

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This butler's tray is an attractive and practical project. It consists of only five parts and makes use of specialty hinges designed specifically for this use. The hinges are let into the surface of the tray and the folding side-handles. The two leaves of the hinge are not the same length, so the mortises on the tray and those on the side-handles require differently sized pockets. If you are building them without the use of a CNC machine, that means you will need to make two different jigs for your handheld router. Of course, the program files for the CNC take those variations into account.

Click here to download the .tap files.

CNC Details

We have created .tap files for the three different components of the butler's tray. The files are set up for stock that is .75 inches thick (3/4"). CNC programming presumes that the material being machined is prepared to exact dimensions. If your stock is even marginally thicker than that, it can affect the depth of the hinge pockets.

For very similar reasons, it's very important that your stock must be flat and out of twist: any cupping or other distortion will cause problems with the machining process, specifically in regards to the hinge pockets.

The .tap files we provide are designed for a router bit that is .25 inches thick (1/4") … you will need to test your 1/4-inch bit to see if it is a true quarter inch in diameter. If it is just a bit smaller (.245, for example), the hinges will be exceedingly tight in their pockets.

Always test each component on scrap stock (MDF is a good choice) before you move to the wood you've selected for the project. This will eliminate any unwanted surprises from the machining process.

If you are going to build this project without the help of a CNC, use the drawings below as a guide. Use the hinge drawings to make routing templates for the tray and side-handle hinge pockets. (Remember, they are different sizes.)

To make the handle cutouts, you can form them by drilling holes at either end of the handle shape, and then connect them by cutting the shape with a handheld jigsaw, or you could construct another router jig to perform the task.

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Download a PDF

The butler hinges for this project are available from our store at woodworkersjournal.com.


Sponsored by CNC Shark