Make a Fun Fish Trivet

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Make a Fun Fish Trivet

Creative design uses dowels to join the individual slats

By John A. Nelson

This whimsical kitchen accessory is sure to catch a smile at dinner, a cookout, or just by the grill. The spaces between the slats help dissipate heat, protecting both the table and the trivet from hot dishes. The fish design also makes a unique placemat for cat food dishes. Once you get to the sanding and finishing, check out our article on sanding tips. 

  Start by cutting the pieces to the dimensions listed in the materials list. Create a template from 1/4″(6mm)-thick scrap plywood to make drilling the dowel holes easier. Attach the profile pattern to the template stock and drill two 1/8″(3mm)-dia. holes as indicated on the pattern. Position the template over the stock, insert a nail through the 1/8″(3mm)-dia. holes, and tap the nail with a hammer. This will produce dimples in the center of the areas to be drilled. Use the dimples to line up a 3/8″(10mm)-dia. drill bit and drill the holes through each of the slats. Align the template with the patterns for the head and tail, make the dimples, and drill the four 3/8″(10mm)-dia. holes 3/8″ (10mm) deep.

  Cut the two dowels to length. Slide the slats onto the dowels and glue the ends of the dowels into the tail and head. Use a scrap wood spacer to position the slats 1/4″ (6mm) apart and lock them in place with cyanoacrylate (CA) glue.

  Apply spray adhesive to the back of the pattern and place it in position on top of the assembled blank. Cut the perimeter of the fish with a #5 reverse-tooth blade. Then drill a 3/8″(10mm)-dia. hole where indicated for the eye. Remove the pattern and sand the piece with progressively finer grits of sandpaper up to 220 grit. Apply a coat of salad bowl finish or your finish of choice.



• Hardwood or wood of choice, 3/4″ (1.9cm) thick: slats 1/2″ x 7″                     (1.3cm x 17.8cm) 15 each

• Plywood, 1/4″ (6mm) thick: template 3/4″ x 7″ (1.9cm x 17.8cm)

• Hardwood or wood of choice, 3/4″ (1.9cm) thick: fish head 2″ x 4 1/4″                  (5.1cm x 10.8cm)

• Hardwood or wood of choice, 3/4″ (1.9cm) thick: fish tail 2 3/8″ x 5 3/4″     (6cm x 14.6cm)

• Dowel, 3/8″ (10mm)-dia.: 12 1/4″ (31.1cm) long 2 each

• Sandpaper: assorted grits

• Finish of choice

• Cyanoacrylate (CA) glue

• Spray adhesive


• Scroll saw with blades: #5 reverse-tooth or blades of choice

• Drill with bits: 1/8″ (3mm), 3/8″(10mm)-dia.

•Hammer and nail


About the Author
John A. Nelson is the author of Fox Chapel’s popular Scroll Saw Workbook, available at


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