Ranging from small personal trays to large trays measuring five feet, adorned with intricately carved features, these feast trays were used daily and at all gatherings. The simple elegant design was used for serving food. Some were large enough for one family to serve an entire meal. This project introduces and builds on symmetry and using bent knives to finish some of the areas. In this workshop, the learner will acquire skills to create a yellow or red cedar feast tray.
Tools & Materials
- Yellow Cedar or Red Cedar 2” x 5” x 10”
- Pencils: HB, F
- Eraser (gum erasers work best)
- Tracing paper
- Flexible clear ruler (knitting ruler)
- Rubber mat (cupboard liner)
- Sandpaper – 100-, 120-, 150-, and 220-grits
- Exacto knife or scissors
- Skew, straight chisel, 8L/30 gauge, 3/35 gouge, 5/35 gouge
- Straight knife, slight bent knife, bent knife
- Palm sander or orbital sander
- Bandsaw (if you have access to one)
- Clamps (c-clamp or f-clamp)
- Eye protection
- Ear protection
- Leather apron
- Dust mask
- Safety boots
Choose a piece of clear, edge-grain cut yellow cedar with no knots. Knots in the wood on this size project will make it difficult to work with the wood.
Measure and draw the center line around the entire length and width of the blank (front and back).
Determine the top and bottom of the tray. Use the templates to trace the top, sides and bottom onto the wood, using the center line as a guide.
Place the feast tray upside down on the rubber mat and clamp down with the appropriate clamp. Start carving wood from the bottom center to the ends (top and bottom)using the number 5/30 or 3/30 gouge until both are even.
Using the 5/30 gouge to start carving the side down from the bottom center of the tray to the outer side.
Even out all the surfaces with the bent and hook knives in the direction of the grain.
Once the bottom is close to what you want, turn the bowl over and shape the top of the bowl. The bowl itself sweeps arcs (curved) from side the side. Working from one edge to the center of the spoon, use a 3/30 gouge to carve the wood out. It may be useful to cut relief cuts with a back saw, cutting across the tray to create break points. Three cuts should be enough.
Once the sweeps are chiseled in, re-draw the center lines and outline the shape of the bowl of the tray.
Carefully chisel out the center of the bowl using the 8L/30 gouge.
After the bowl has been roughed out, refine it with a bent knife. Follow the grain from the end of the bowl working your way to the center.
You can leave the bowl at this point with a flatter top or you can go back over it to create a bowl shape on the top rim. Use a slight bent knife or the 3/30 gouge for this task. Outline the desired depth of your bowl. Carefully use the mallet and the bent knife to create the desired shape.
Flip the bowl over and refine the bottom of the tray; even out the sides so that they match. Carve the bottom down to its desired thickness.
Turn the bowl right-side up and refine the bowl part of the tray even further.
Once complete, use the orbital or palm sander with 100-grit sandpaper to sand the entire bowl. Keep or re-draw the reference marks for the center line. You may want to use the lines to clean up, modify, and even out the bowl.
Continue sanding with 120-, 150-, and 220-grit.
You can now add paint or a design.
Once complete, you can oil your project.