Tuesday, December 4, 2012

DIY Christmas Gift Round 2: Wooden Tray

I love big trays, but they can be hard to find and even harder at a price I want to pay. Thinking about it, I decided that it couldn't be too hard to make my own, so I decided to give it a try! 

The thing that I really like about this project is there are a few ways to do it depending on the tools that you have. We used a chop saw, drill, screwdriver, screws, and wood glue, and wood but you could do it with with just wood glue and wood.

First we gathered supplies and cut our wood for a 2' x 14.5" tray.

Two pieces of 4' 2.5" thin popular hobby board, 1 sheet or half sheet of 3/8" to 1/2" Plywood or MDF. Ace Hardware lets you buy half sheets or if they have a scrap in your size they could charge you as little as .50! We used plywood since that is what we had left over, but the key to this project going well is having everything straight (especially if you are gluing) MDF is much straighter than plywood. Also make sure to pick hobby boards that are straight. You will thank yourself later! 

Two pieces of 4' 2.5" thin popular hobby board (purchased at Home Depot) and a 3/8" to 1/2" base. The base was cut to 23" x 14", primed, painted and stenciled with a smaller version of my trellis stencil. The poplar boards sit flush with the base, and a frame is built around it.

The first poplar board was cut in half and then a 45 degree angle was cut with the chop saw on the edge. Then it was held up to the side of the board (as it would sit) and the other 45 was marked with a pencil and then cut, this was repeated for all four boards.

If you are using just wood glue. You can get all of your cuts done at Home Depot / Lowes / Ace etc. You would get 1. the base cut to size and 2. for the two side pieces get the hobby board cut to the width of of your base 3. for the front and back you will need to overlap the two side pieces so each front and back piece will be the long side of the tray base plus the thickness of the hobby board twice. Confused? hopefully the diagram underneath will make it a bit clearer.

Essentially it is just building a frame around the outside. If using a chop saw/miter bix, the 45s will meet on each corner. If using another saw or getting the pieces pre-cut,  the front pieces will overlap the side pieces. 

Next we measured and drill holes for the screws to go through (note: since we used a screw driver by hand we also drilled through the base too lining up the holes. We used three small brass screws for the front and back and two for the side. 

The hole was then counter sunk for the screw head to sit it. We used a drill bit the same size as the screw head and lightly drilled enough that the head would sit flush.

We applied wood glue around the outside for added strength (this would be your only step if you weren't using screws) If you are only gluing, hold it until the glue holds (about a minute) and then secure the corners and around the bottom/sides with masking/painters tape until completely dry.

We purchased tiny brass screws (flat head) so they would blend in. We used the screw driver since they were so small. Please ignore my paint filled hands. I am known for getting paint all over myself when I work on projects. The other day I was checking out at the grocery store and the cashier asked if I had been painting, I said yes and embarrassingly explained myself. When I got to the car I noticed a big paint mark on my face, yeah it was pretty embarrassing! 

anyways back to the project ...

a thin layer of clear wax was applied with a cloth to seal and protect it. 

and after attaching the screws on all four sides that was it!

I found this amazing hand made recycled glass vase at Marshalls for only $5. I love the subtle blue and the imperfectness of the shape. 

I cut a smaller version of my trellis stencil  and painted it with the same color as the credenza Sherwin Williams Glimmer. You could also use fabric and spray adhesive (like I did for the original tray I made for the credenza)

Price Breakdown:
4' x 2.5" poplar hobby board ~$3.50 x2
3/8" - 1/2" MDF depending on how much you buy whole sheet ~$15, half sheet ~$7.50, left over piece .50 to 2.00 (Ace Hardware will sell half sheets or left over pieces for less)

Total time invested: about and 1 hour or 2 (depending if you are stenciling, which takes about 30 minutes)

This project could easily be under $10! Trays this size easily run $50, so pretty good!

Trays are such versatile pieces that they make great gifts! and of course great presents for yourself too!

Let me know if you make this, I'd love to know how it turned out :)


  1. Another beautiful project! I always love to look at your photos!

  2. This is gorg! So simple and beautiful.

  3. I'm such a fan of recycled glass vases, love their pale blue color. The tray came out beautifully, great idea!

  4. Wow, had no idea it would be so cost effective! I won't buy anymore trays. :)

  5. Ah, trays. As a gift, best given in bed, with a plate stacked with pancakes!


Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts! I love hearing what you think! :)

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