Home Hardware

Aquatic Life

By Rob Brown

Add a touch of nostalgia to your home or cottage with a decorative and functional wood serving board in the shape of your favourite fish, crustacean, or marine mammal. Source a lobster, a whale, or a shell shape stencil for a one-of-a-kind creation that's as unique as the place it calls home.

DIY TrayWhat You'll Need:

  • band saw 1345-341 or
  • scroll saw 1345-042
  • planer 1332-533
  • sandpaper 1061, 1078
  • drill 1239-213
  • 3/8" Brad point wood bit 1214-359
  • 3/8" plug cutter 1228-228
  • 1/8" Brad point wood bit 1214-313
  • 1/4" Brad point wood bit 1214-331
  • mini wood carving set 1020-112
  • sanding block 1061-282


  • hardwood lumber - 12" long x 9" wide x 7/8" thick
  • contrasting 3/8" wood plug 8295-542/546/571/576
  • small wood dowel (about 1/8") or bamboo skewer 4038-758
  • glue 2020-040
  • jute twine 5462-180
  • food-safe finish 4548-154; 4548-181

Here's How:

  1. Select a clear, non-porous lumber. Glue up a 12" long x 9" wide x 7/8" thick blank. Dress it to 3/4" thick.
  2. Draw an aquatic shape on paper. Cut it out, and then transfer it to the blank.
  3. Draw the stripes, or other details you want to include, onto the workpiece.
  4. Band saw or scroll saw the piece to shape. (photo 1)
  5. Sand to smooth the freshly cut edge.
  6. Drill a 3/8" diameter hole for the eye. (photo 2)
  7. Cut or purchase a contrasting 3/8" plug and glue it into the hole. When dry, flush the plug with the surface.
  8. Drill a small hole for the pupil. Glue the dowel (I used a 1/8" diameter bamboo skewer) into the hole. When dry, flush the dowel to the surface. (photo 3)
  9. Create some texture and detail on the surface with gouge and veining tools. (photo 4)
  10. Drill a 1/4" diameter hole in the workpiece to tie jute twine so the piece can hang.
  11. Sand the surfaces and ease all edges.
  12. Apply a few coats of food-safe finish to the piece. When dry, attach jute twine through the hole.

Outer Shape
After drawing the shape onto the workpiece, cut it out on the band saw or scroll saw.
Photo 1
Add an Eye
Drill a 3/8" diameter hole then glue in a contrasting wood plug for the eye.
Photo 2
Full of Life
Drill a small hole in the centre of the 3/8" diameter plug. A smaller dowel is inserted into this hole to add life to the eye.
Photo 3
Add Texture and Detail
Use a variety of tools to add details with lines and textures. A little goes a long way.
Photo 4

Rob Brown designs and builds custom furniture, and is editor of Canadian Woodworking and Home Improvement magazine.
Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement
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