Workshop

Cambro Camtray Cafeteria Tray

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Portable work surface

Cafeteria trays, and this one in particular, are a favorite for creating a work surface that I can easily move around and keep things contained. In the kitchen I find them indispensable, but it is helpful whenever I am working on anything with small parts (like working with an Arduino board) or make a mess (anything with glitter). I got my trays 20 years ago they still hold up nicely!

Major benefits:

  • The tray has a raised lip around the entire tray, so any liquid or small pieces doesn’t go right off the surface.
  • I think it makes a great cutting board. You can put a bunch of veggies to one side (and they don’t roll off because of the lip), chop them up, and the juices don’t flow off the board.
  • While fiberglass isn’t the best surface for your knife, it is way better than doing it on most counter tops! Just put a cutting board on the tray if you are concerned. (The flexible ones are great)
  • I’ve also used it under crock pots that I think may boil over, filling flasks when I don’t want any liquids to be lost, and as a place to roll out dough.
  • It’s also helpful to use these when working with small pieces, like when assembling components on an Arduino board. The lip provides a bit of a barrier when a screw or a capacitor tries to make a run for it.
  • The tray is a perfectly reasonable work area, and is rigid. And, if you too have a small kitchen, you’ll appreciate the ability to quickly pick up the tray’s task and be able to get to an empty counter. Or shuffle it off to another counter entirely.
  • It also means that you can take the entire surface to the sink, and scrub it there, rather than having to clean all the items and then the counter.
  • I like trays that are smooth on top and bottom. Some trays have a texture on top and ridges on the bottom, to provide a better friction. I find that the texture makes moving things around on the tray a bit more difficult, and the ridges on the bottom keep them from being a good sled when it snows. I like the faux wood grain as well, as it blends in with my other cutting boards, but they come in all sorts of colors to suit your aesthetic.

And, of course, these are really helpful when you are moving dishes and food from the kitchen to another part of the house!

-- Mark Krawczuk 02/11/15