Excelsior's The Maker's Studio is more than a showroom. Owned by father and son duo Bruce and Ryan Huggett, The Maker's Studio houses the makings of local artisans, showcasing an array of curated goods and a variety of techniques, each item with a story to tell. From custom wood coffee tables and hand-blown glassware to carefully crafted serving trays and one-of-a-kind artwork, every piece is thoughtfully made to connect you to its source. "Every object has a story, a craftsperson, a history. We're here to share those stories with you," says Ryan.
A craftsman himself, Ryan is no novice when it comes to creating. With a separate studio space in Osceola, WI, Ryan has mastered the skill of woodworking, building beautiful, unique pieces for the showroom and to fulfill custom orders. As of lately, kitchenware has been in high demand. With lockdowns and quarantines in the past, people are eager to host dinner parties and get-togethers once again, and the need for serving trays, cutting boards, and charcuterie boards has increased. "At The Maker’s Studio, we feature a number of serving trays with inlays, juice grooves, a variety of handle types, and personalized features," Ryan shares. With the options the showroom provides, creating an elegant and appetizing spread for your next event will be easy. And in an attempt to further connect you to what The Maker's Studio offers and teach you some of what he does best, Ryan shares how to make your own custom wood serving tray. If you're feeling adventurous, this DIY project is certainly worth it. And if you're not, step inside The Maker's Studio and see what piece (or pieces) you might feel connected to.
Ryan Huggett's DIY Serving Tray
01 // Material Selection
For this project, I will be using live edge walnut, but any hardwood will do. You will want to find a slab that is surfaced on both faces - this means that the top and bottom of the board has been jointed/planed. For this serving tray (or charcuterie board) I found an 8’ length of black walnut with a width of 6” to 10” that will work nicely. You can find surfaced slabs from a variety of local dealers including Rockler and my personal favorite, Logs to Lumber in Hastings.
02 // Cut to Length
You can use a variety of tools to cut your slab to length. I am using a circular saw with a guide and have decided on a length of 32”. I chose 32” because it seems a comfortable length to hold.
03 // Sand, Sand, Sand
If your slab has been surfaced, you can start with 120 grit sandpaper, or 80 grit if it is rough. Work your way from 120 to 150/180 to 220. Make sure to sand every surface. Between grits of sandpaper, lightly wet your board. This will dry quickly and you will have a rough surface again - you’ve just raised the grain. A light touch of sandpaper will knock the grain back down. I do this twice to make sure that the grain will not raise again after the customer has brought it home.
04 // Finishing
Cutting boards and serving trays are pretty straightforward. I use as much mineral oil as the wood will take. The rule of thumb is to oil the raw board once a day for a week, and once a week for a month. After that, you can apply oil whenever it appears or feels dry. You can also submerge your board in mineral oil to quicken the process. To add a sheen and to extend the life of the mineral oil, I like to add a coat of wax to the whole board. You want to do the bottom and sides to encourage equal moisture transfer and to help keep your board from warping.
05 // A la Carte Details
I’ve added rubber feet and a set of simple handles to this serving tray to bring it up a notch. There are a myriad of other options to personalize your serving board.