Prior to the Christmas Holiday last year (2023), I was noodling on something to make. At the same time, I was scrolling through some woodworking projects and I stumbled on the idea of an “Everyday Carry” Tray. Typically I only have a few things that I carry every day and I find that as I get older it becomes increasingly helpful if I store those few things consistently in the same place. If I don’t do that, I will (and have) lost my keys or my wallet. Lost in the sense that I don’t know where I left them. Generally, they turn up, but no one needs that stress. So, the impetus for this was, first and foremost, my own design to have a nice-looking place to store my stuff on my nightstand.

I started off in Affinity Designer and eventually settled on a design that I liked:

One large compartment for my wallet, a smaller one for my keys and the upper left for pocket change or other small things. All this would be done with Walnut, primarily, then other woods for the accent bits.

After settling on a design, printed out the design and looked at how it sat on my nightstand and put the pieces in the virtual compartments to make sure things fit. Next, I cut one out of MDF to see how I liked it in three dimensions. At that point, I was pretty happy with the design and moved on to create some.

For me, especially when I’m doing a project for the first time, I need to create more than one of whatever it is because it’s a near guarantee I will botch some number of them up on the path from start to finish! In this case, I knew I wanted one, but it wouldn’t hurt if I had a couple to gift, so I settled on five. As it turned out, I was completely right because as I continue to learn to operate my CNC, it’s almost always by virtue of ruining the project. In one case, the unit was destroyed past recovery. In another only half was destroyed and I was able to get the left half of the image above out of it. So, in the end, I was able to complete three (and a half!) of them in time for Christmas.

I gave two of them to my kids and kept one for myself. Christina was out at a holiday event and was showing what I was making to a new friend and she said she’d really like to buy one for her husband (my first sale of these!) if one was available. Unfortunately, the only one available at that time was mine, so I did offer to sell it to her and apparently her husband was very happy with the gift!

But, that left me with no EDC Tray for myself. Well, crap. Typically I’m not a huge fan of making more of a thing because then it becomes a job. But, in this case, I still had no tray for myself, so I decided I was going to have to make more.

In the end, I purchased some more Walnut and started cutting and gluing up the blanks and I ended up with 13 blanks. I also introduced a second design that was very similar to the first, but only had two compartments to the left and right, the same size.

In this second run, I was able to get 12 out of the 13 to completion, though I did have to fix some small worm burrows or little knots with resin, but in the end they still looked pretty good!

I don’t know if I’ll try and sell them on Etsy or somewhere. Like anything like this, there’s no way I can recoup a reasonable return on my time and materials. Even if I set a value on my time of $10/hr (less than minimum wage), I’d have to price them at over a hundred bucks! I think the price point on these is likely closer to $75 each.

But, I have them, whether to sell or gift and I finally have my own to sit on my nightstand! And it only took me another three months or so (I had other things to do, too!) Nothing I do is quick and that’s okay with me.

As a side bonus, I glued together some offcuts and created another little tray using my CNC to route out the middle bits. The edges are chamfered with a little rollover. No idea what it’s for or where it’ll go, but it turned out pretty nicely as well.

Categories: Make


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