By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Our kitchen trivet not only is a useful gift, it's easy to make. This almost instant project is constructed around an inexpensive 8-inch-square ceramic tile with scraps of lumber for its sides. Since there is little cutting for the carpenters to do, this might be a good beginning project for inexperienced adults or young woodworkers to tackle.
Our trivet measures 8 1/2 inches square, but you can make a larger hot plate using several tiles, either two or three in a row to form a rectangle or four to make a large square. The tile you choose can be colorfully painted or glazed a single color. The selection of tiles is endless, so look for ones that match your kitchen, dishes, or table decorations.
The tile sits on a piece of square flakeboard and rests on feet made of furniture tack glides. We chose maple for the sides, but pine lattice, which is less expensive and easier to find, can be substituted.
Begin by laying out the bottom (A) on the piece of flakeboard or plywood. To do this, measure out an 8-inch square, marking the corners. Then connect these marks with straight lines to form a square. Cut along the lines, keeping your saw to the waste side.
To cut the sides (B and C), clamp the maple piece or lattice to the table. Support the ends of the pieces for a square cut as you cut them. An inexpensive miter box helps with these cuts but is not necessary. Measure and cut the two short side pieces (B) to a length of 8 inches. The long sides © are Cut to 8 1/2 inches. You will find it easier to predrive the nails into the side pieces until their points protrude from the backside, before they are glued to the edge of the bottom piece. Space four number 3 finishing nails 2 inches from each end and about 1/4 inch from the bottom of the B and C pieces. If you are using maple for the sides, nailing will be easier if you drill 1/16-inch pilot holes.
Run a bead of glue along one edge of the bottom piece (A), and glue a short side (B) to it. Position the side piece so it is flush with the bottom piece and is aligned at the ends. Drive the nails into the bottom. Repeat the process on the opposite edge of the bottom for the other short side.
The long sides © are 1/2 inch longer and will overlap the short sides on the ends. Place glue on the ends of the short sides (B) to hold the corner joints tight and along the edges of the bottom piece (A), then nail both long sides into place.
Now you're ready to tack on the glides that serve as feet for the trivet. Find their locations on the underside of the bottom by measuring 3/4 inch in from each side. Mark these spots in each corner. The four plastic pads can be nailed directly into the trivet's bottom.
Turn the trivet over and check to see whether the tack glide nails are sticking through the bottom. If they are, hammer them flat, because the points will make the tile lie crooked. Just about any type of adhesive caulk, construction adhesive, or tile mastic will hold the tile in place. If you use caulk, run a liberal bead around the trivet's base about an inch from the sides. Apply construction adhesive in the same way, with additional adhesive in the center. Tile mastic is spread with a notched trowel; follow the manufacturer's directions to apply. Be careful when working with any adhesive; they are sticky and will be difficult to remove from wood sides.
After the glue is applied, set the tile in place, and slide it around to spread the glue. Then center the tile, leaving an equal space on all sides. Set the trivet aside to let the glue dry. When the glue has hardened, sand the sides smooth, and slightly round all the edges with 120-grit sandpaper. Apply a wipe-on finish to protect the wood from food stains, and your trivet is ready for use.
Two or three hours for cutting, building, and assembling, plus drying time for glue and finish.
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Find helpful advice and tips about tools, finishing, safety practices and a glossary of woodworking terms at Before You Begin