DIY Wooden Tray

Ok, let's all talk about this. We have been noticing this trend slowly growing for a while now. There's no denying it. Non-functional trays to decorate on top of are crazy popular. In fact, I've had one for a couple of years. Bad news is that I have outgrown its style and it is starting to break. The good news though is that this gives me the perfect excuse to make a new one myself ( sounds like just the kind of thing I would do right? ). So would glue in hand, let me tell you exactly how I took on this DIY Wooden Tray.

Here is what I needed:

  • (2) - 6'L x 1" x 3" Pieces Of Wood
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • 1/2" Drill Bit
  • Jigsaw
  • Hammer
  • 1" Nails
  • Measuring Tape
  • Wood Glue
  • 2 Trigger Clamps
  • Adjustable Strap Clamp
  • Pencil
  • Wood Burning Pen ( Optional )
  • Wood Stain ( Optional )
  • Paint ( Optional )

Step One: Create The Base

Create The Base

I decided that I wanted my base to be 16" long. So I took my 1" x 3" wood and cut four 16" long pieces with my saw. After they were cut, I used my wood glue to glue them all together and I quickly clamped them into place with my trigger clamps. I decided not to screw my planks together. It might surprise you how strong wood glue can hold without hardware. Here's a useful tip: When gluing wood together and setting it with trigger clamps, place each clamp on opposite sides of the wood to keep the wood from bowing and bending.

Step Two: Sand It Down

Sand It Down

Once the glue had completely dried, I sanded the entire base down to make sure it was smooth. Then I wiped it down with a dry rag to rid it of any sawdust.

Step Three: Prepare The Frame

Prepare The Frame

Next I started to build the frame ( or the walls ) of the tray. First, I needed exact measurements of the base, so that I knew how long to cut the wood to make the frame. I made sure to take into account the thickness of the wood as well, since I knew that where each corner met I wanted the wood to overlap. My measurements ended up being 10" for the short sides and 17 1/2" for the long sides. Depending on the wood you buy, your measurements can be different, so be sure not to skip this step and measure your base! Then I cut the wood to those exact measurements. Once the wood was cut, I lined it all up with the base to ensure everything was correct.

Prepare The Frame

Then it was time to create the handles. The handles will be going in to the short sides of the frame. To make the handles, I first measured how high the thickness of the base came up the sides of the frame ( I wouldn't want to install my handles right where the base will be glued on ). Then from there, I measured to find the center of the short side pieces. With center in mind, I took a pencil and marked where I wanted the handle openings to end. I decided to have mine about 4" apart, but you can make yours larger if you would like. Taking my 1/2" drill bit, I drilled holes where my pencil marks were. I took my pencil again and drew lines from one hole to the other, top to top and bottom to bottom. Next, I used my jigsaw to carve out the rest of the opening following the pencil lines as a guide. I sanded down the openings and viola, I had handles!

Step Four: Build The Frame

Build The Frame

Next, I glued away! I glued not only the entire frame together, but I glued the frame to the sides of the base as well. The glue ( once dry ) will hold it in place while I hammer in a couple of nails to secure the tray together. I placed my adjustable strap clamp around all four corners of the glued tray to hold it nice and tight until the glue completely dried. ( Note: the wood will not stay put if you try to hammer it together while the glue is still wet, so make sure to give it time to dry. ) Once it was dry, I hammered in just a few nails to secure the structure of the tray. I did not want to add to many nails, just enough to be effective. So, I hammered two nails in each of the corners to nail the frame together and then two on each side going through the frame and into the base to secure the bottom.

Step Five: Make It Your Own

Make It Your Own

Now all that was left was to personalize the tray! I stained the entire tray a dark espresso. I could have stopped there, but I wanted to try something new. In a recent post, I built a blanket ladder and gave it a rustic look by first painting it black and then painting white over that. This way, when I sanded down the white paint the black showed through and created an old barn wood look. Now, I wanted to see if I could get this same look by painting the tray white over a dark stain instead. So that is exactly what I did, and it turned out great!

DIY Blanket Ladder

Love ( or hate ) the way my DIY Wooden Tray turned out?

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!

Happy Decorating

21 thoughts on “DIY Wooden Tray

  1. Hi Victoria, this is the first DIY project of yours I have seen. Now, I speak as a capenter, cabinet maker and patter maker of some 50 years. I learned the tradesin Europe and concider myself to be a master craftsman. I have to say I am impressed by the way you present and exolain this project. The simplicity, yet functionality of the tray. If I may? I would suggest that the bottom peices of word not be glued together, but left a space between. This eliviates the difficult sanding to smooth and also easies cleaning…..I am looking forward to seeing more of you creations and creativity. Niels from Denmark

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