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What Are the Different Types of Wooden Serving Trays?

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  • Written By: Judith Smith Sullivan
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2016
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There are many types of wooden serving trays. The kind of wood, size, and purpose are all determining factors which distinguish them from one another. Some are styled to serve a single item, like cheese, while others, like the breakfast tray, are designed to carry an entire meal. Wooden serving trays may also include features like handles and indentations for serving utensils.

Wooden serving trays are made from many different types of wood. Traditional English tea trays are often made from a hardwood like walnut and cherry. Contemporary trays can also be made from bamboo or teak. Of course, trays have been made from many other types of wood as well.

The style of the tray can vary from a simple, flat board shape to a lipped tray with handles. Typically, the style dictates the use. Board-style trays are often used for stationary purposes, like serving items on a buffet or acting as a large coaster for a coffee table. These are often called self-service trays.

Trays with handles and a lip are designed for carrying items easily. The lip allows items to be placed close to the edge without the danger of falling off at the slightest bump. This style of tray is often nicknamed the butler tray.

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Some wooden serving trays are multipurpose trays. For example, a tray with folding legs can be used to carry items or as a breakfast-in-bed table. A tray with edges that are curved upward can be a buffet tray or a carrying tray. A small, flat serving tray can also be used as a cutting board.

There are many different aesthetic designs for trays. Some are quite traditional, using natural finishes and simple lines. Others are quite modern and use a variety of paints for colored finishes. Trays may be square, oval, or asymmetrically shaped and since they are no longer used only to serve tea or breakfast in bed, buyers often choose a tray as an accent piece in a bold color or with an eye-catching shape.

Wooden serving trays may be newly made, vintage, or antique. Typically, new and vintage trays are not as expensive as antique trays. Although excellent conversation pieces, antique trays may not be appropriate for day to day use. A sturdy new wooden serving tray will be more functional and more reliable.

New wooden trays are either machine made or handmade. The handmade wooden serving tray is typically much more expensive than its machine made counterpart. The handmade tray, however, is often unique. Many woodworkers will take special orders to create wooden serving trays based on a customer's exact needs. Depending on the maker, a handmade tray may also be finished in organic or earth-friendly products and be made from local wood.

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