Fivetray Trapezoid

Top secret. The removable top conceals a secret compartment with a friction-fit plywood cover.

Tray-Making Tricks

No matter which size of box you choose to make, the techniques are the same. It's crucial to cut the miters and bevels at precise angles, and to be very accurate when cutting the tray fronts to length.

Each triangular tray has two thin sides and a thick front. (See drawing.) When it's finished, the tray's sides are vertical (unbeveled) and the front is beveled at 64*. It's important to wait till each tray is glued together before you bevel the front. This is the first trick to tray assembly.

For each tray, cut the two sides at least I/4 in. longer than their finished length; you'll trim this excess off when beveling the front. If you have access to a thickness sander, make the thin sides for the two top trays at least an inch too long. This is the sccond trick, whose benefits I'll explain later.

Make sure that you're able to cut smooth, accurate 30* miters in the thin side pieces, and accurate 60* cuts on the ends of each front side. The fronts have to be cut to their exact finished lengths at this stage. (See drawing.)

I plow a deep groove in the bottom edge of the base tray's front. (See Base Tray Front detail, right.) This will hold a steel bar that is glued in place to weight down the base and keep the box from tipping over when you swing all the drawers open at once.

Cut rabbets along the bottom inside edges of all side and front pieces, to house the plywood bottoms. I make the rabbets deep. The extra depth allows for the thickness of the velvet lining glued on the inside face of each bottom piece.

The four upper trays swing on a brass rod glued into the base tray. Steel bar stock glued into a groove in the base's front keeps the box from tipping over when all four upper trays swing open. (See Base Tray Front detail.) Side dimensions are finished; front dimensions are before beveling. Cut the sides long to start. After assembling each tray and boring its rod hole, bevel the front and trim each side's length in the same operation. Then fit the four upper trays onto the rod and sand the front and sides flush.

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