Cut purse handles to size appropriate for your tray (Tom cuts his handles to 5 inches for a 16-by-20-inch picture frame). Cut ends will be paler, so apply a thin coat of amber shellac to cut ends of bamboo to match rest of bamboo. Allow to dry.
Drill two holes into each bamboo handle, one near each end, using a 3/8-inch Forstner bit (the holes on Tom's handles are 4 inches apart). Drill corresponding holes in ends of the tray.
Each handle will be composed of three pieces: the handle itself and two short rods that will connect it to the tray. Cut four 1-inch rods of Tonkin bamboo. Paint them to match the frame. Set one rod perpendicular to the tray, so its end lines up with one of the holes you've drilled; line up a handle so that one of its holes aligns with the other end of rod. Tray, rod, and handle should form two right angles. Using Forstner bit and wood screw, start from the inside of the tray, and drill the hole through tray and rod into handle. Repeat on other end of handle. Repeat with other handle.
Cut Plyboo to fit inside tray. Apply a coat of amber shellac to Plyboo sheet. Allow to dry. Insert Plyboo sheet into frame.
Bamboo purse handles
Japanese pull saw, or small handsaw
Alcohol-based amber-colored shellac
Hand-drill with 3/8-inch Forstner bit and regular bit
Tonkin cane bamboo
1 1/2-inch wood screws
Plyboo (flat bamboo plywood)
Surprisingly strong and incredibly beautiful, bamboo is the most widely used building material in the world. This Asian-inspired serving tray, made by crafter Tom Tamborello from two bamboo purse handles and a picture frame, features purse handles fashioned from wangee, the root of the moso bamboo tree. Wangee is used to make accessories because the nodes are more closely spaced than the stalks or pole nodes, making it more decorative. The floor of the tray is lined with bamboo plywood, called Plyboo.