After the fun I had in building, and joy in receiving, of re-imagining what a Sawdust & Glass keepsake box could be with holiday gifts last year, I decided to take a similar tack for a Secret Santa item this year basing around their serving trays. The original plan was to use some of the pine trays which Dad had indicated they weren’t going to finish with stained glass mosaic / grout, but as the design for this evolved, the dimensions, and weight of epoxy, called for building a whole new frame out of walnut. The recipient had listed Lord of the Rings as one of their favorite movies/series and the Doors of Durin is one of the most signature shots.

How was it made?

The mitre corner walnut frame used 3-4 different router bits to build up an edge that was both decorative and had enough lip that it could be used to hold the hefty tray.

The 3D was based on this design file with changes through multiple apps to remove the doors, scale their thickness, and split into to fit in the resin build volume of my printer.

After attaching the trees to a thin plywood base with various UV and CA glues, I began to paint the trees and doors to have a wood/stone effect.

One dicey moment in this build was putting the base in the laser to etch the Doors of Durin. I test etched a scrap post-paint , but rework effort of failure now would be high.

Covering the laser etched portions in UV power coat paint (meant for fishing lures) had a really strong effect when the paint was charged by a UV LED flashlight.

With everything secured in #ClampChamp style, it was time to pour a thicc coat of clear Flowcast epoxy on. Plates and mugs won’t sit well on a tray that isn’t flat.

The epoxy small leaked into the back of the birch plywood. I decided to lean polishing up the back and did a full laser etch silhouette style. And more epoxy.

Much sanding later and the back was up to 320 grit smooth. The other dicey moment in this build was if the letters in the bottom etch would survive the epoxy+sanding.

In some ways, I find the back turned out to be better than the front. A mix of less is more and how those happy little accidents make each 1 of 1 project so memorable.


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