Tea Tray Copper Handles Part 3 of 3

Length of Project:
Project theme:
Suitable for grades:
Tools & Materials
Material List
  • 3' - 3/8" copper pipe
  • four #8 x 1 5/8" pan head wood screws
  • two ~1" x 4" x 10" scrap wood (approx. size)
Tool list
  • safety glasses
  • ear protection
  • measuring tape
  • washable felt pen
  • pipe cutter (or hacksaw)
  • metalwork table vise (or metal surface to hammer on)
  • hammer or mallet
  • centre punch
  • drill press vise and drill press OR hand drill
  • metal file
  • 1/8" twist bit (for metal)
  • 3/32" twist bit (for wood)
  • awl
  • screwdriver or appropriate driver bit
  1. Use your measuring tape to determine the width of your tea tray. Use a washable felt pen to mark a length of 3/8" copper 2" shorter than the width of the tray.
  2. Use a pipe cutter or hacksaw to cut the pipe.
  3. Flatten the pipe using a hammer and the flat surface of the bench vise. Hammer only on one side. The piece of copper will naturally begin to bend into an arc. Continue hammering until there is a gradual curve of 90°. Ear protection is required.
  4. To create a uniform curve, gently bend the flattened pipe by hand or over a curved object to achieve the desired handle shape.
  5. Put the last 2” of each flattened pipe in a clamp or vise (sandwich the copper between two pieces of scrap wood to protect it from the steel teeth of the vise if needed). Bend the copper by hand, or using a hammer or mallet, to achieve a similar shape as in the photo, an arc with two flat tabs.
  6. Repeat previous steps 1 – 5 to make a second handle.
  7. Center the handles on top of the tray sides as shown in the photo.
  8. Use a washable felt pen to mark one hole placement in the middle of each flat end of each the copper handle (4 in total). Check that the screws that will be installed at these marks will not overlap or interrupt the screws already in the tray.
  9. Note: safety glasses are required for the following punching and drilling procedures:

  10. Place the centre punch on the felt pen mark, and give it a tap with a hammer to make an indent in the copper (this will help keep the twist bit steady when starting to drill the holes). Repeat until all 4 marks are punched.
  11. Secure your handle in a drill press vise and clamp the vise to the drill press table, or have a partner hold it securely to a piece of scrap wood.
  12. Drill your marked holes with the drill press (or hand drill) and 1/8” metal twist bit.
  13. Use a metal file to clean up any rough edges.
  14. Mark your pilot hole locations in the wood: place your handles on your tea tray again and use an awl to poke into the wood through the middle of each hole.
  15. Remove the handles and use the hand drill with the 3/32” bit to drill pilot holes straight down into the wood edges.
  16. Put your handles back in place and use the screw driver (or hand drill and driver bit) to insert your 1 1/2" screws.
  17. Make a big pot of tea or a batch of lemonade and serve it up on your new tray!
Extension Challenges
  1. Make your tray handles more robust: drill two holes in the end of each handle instead of just one (8 screws needed to install the handles).
  2. Design handles out of other types of metal, such as EMT electrical conduit, sheet steel, etc.
  3. Bend spoons or other utensils into a curve, then drill holes in them and attach in the same way as the copper handles.
  4. Weld your own handles out of pieces of scrap metal or found metal objects.
Suggest an Edit