Hand Carved Leaf-Shaped Tray
Wood carving is really fun and relaxing. And it's not hard to learn. I used a minimal amount of hand tools to carve this tray. Just imagine serving candies or nuts on this beautiful tray. You could also use it to store your watch or jewelry.
I used a leaf from a white oak tree right out of my own yard. I scanned it to a sheet of paper and this became the template for my tray.
Fortunately, I had a piece of Mesquite hardwood on hand that was about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. If you're new to carving, you might want to get a piece of Basswood which is easier to carve. I just prefer the Mesquite because of the beautiful wood grain.
Here is a picture of the 2 carving gouges I used. I clamped down the board and used my rubber mallet to tap the back of the gouge. Work with the grain, and don't dig too deeply with the gouges.
After carving our the bowl for the tray and doing some preliminary sanding, I clamped the board down and used my jigsaw to cut out the tray from the board. Take it slow and let the blade do all the cutting.
Here is the tray after I cut it out with the jigsaw.
I used my straight carving knife to start shaping the bottom of the tray. Be very careful and practice with your carving tools. Always know where the blade is going to travel and don't have a finger or other body part in the path of your blade. Again, practice makes perfect. A beginner might want to invest in a carving glove or finger wraps.
Heres another option in place of using the carving knife. I used a Shinto rasp saw, and it takes off a lot of material to shape the bottom of the tray. The Shinto has a course side and fine side, but the way it's designed it keeps the wood from clogging up the rasp.
Now the fun part begins -- the sanding. And more sanding. And more. I started with 80 grit sandpaper and then moved to 120, 220, 320, and 600 grit. I then pulled out my micro mesh sanding sheets to finish the sanding.
The final step -- I added my homemade mineral oil / beeswax mixture to the Mesquite and it instantly brought out the beautiful grain and color of the wood. This mixture is easy to apply and will go a long ways to protecting the tray. And it's food safe.
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The finished tray. Please consult the full tutorial over on my site. Thanks!
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