Text Box: Williamsburg Knife Tray

An authentic reproduction of a Williamsburg, VA piece, circa 1785. The reproductions are in mahogany—one with shellac French polish, the other Lexington Green Milk Paint.

Knife Tray Summary

· Splayed scrolled sides

· Hand-cut beveled dovetails

· Felt pads on bottom

· Mahogany finished in shellac or milk paint

· Floating base to avoid cross-grain expansion/contraction

In a 1981 trip to Williamsburg, a Knife Tray on a table in the Peyton Randolph House caught our interest. We were not able to get close to the tray, as visitors in the room were held behind a rail about 15 feet away. The docent did give us an inventory booklet that briefly described the tray and identified overall dimensions. The page in the booklet identified the item as:

                 Williamsburg, VA               

                 Peyton Randolph House

                 Knife Tray—1785


After copying the overall dimensions, I began to sketch the tray with its numerous scroll shapes and angles.

The tray consists of only four unique components— Sides, Ends, Middle Spar, and Base. The ends are splayed at an angle of 105 degrees and they connect to the end pieces with small beveled dovetails. All components are thickness of 3/8 inch. The sides and ends are connected to the base with 1 inch long #6 brass FHWS. To prevent any cross grain expansion/contraction problems, the base is not glued except in the middle to the bottom edge of the Mid Spar. The FHWS shank holes are oversized to allow some relief for the base expanding and contracting cross-grain. The ends of the Mid Spar fits into 1/8 inch deep dadoes in the inside faces of the Ends.

Reproduction of Williamsburg Knife Tray