This post and photos may contain Amazon or other affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. If you purchase something through any link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. All opinions are my own.
A tray is not only decorative, but also useful. On a coffee table, they can corral magazines and remotes. On a table, they can be base of a centerpiece or seasonal vignette. And of course, they are good for their intended purpose, to transport items from place to place. For this month’s Power Tool Challenge Team project, we are all making trays. It’s going to be fun to see what everyone created. You’ll find links to the trays that my friends made at the end of this post.
I love the DIY Wood Tray that I created and it’s going to be fun to use in décor in any season.
This tray is large measuring in at 2’ x 16 3/4”. I really love the look that the Weathered Wood stain gave the new Poplar used to construct it.
Decorative banding added to each corner gives this new piece an old look.
This tray is ready to decorate my coffee table for spring.
My aunt passed along this Blenko vase that belonged to my grandmother to me at Christmas. This is the first time I’ve had an opportunity to use it. It looks pretty filled with Viburnum cutting from my yard.
Now let me show you how I made this tray. Be sure to check out the trays that my friends made by clicking the links at the end of this post.
How to Make a DIY Wood Tray
1 Sheet Birch Plywood – 1/8” x 2 ft x 2 ft
2 Poplar Project Boards – 1/2” x 4” x 4 ft
8 Right Angle Metal Corner Brackets (Decorative)
Wood Glue (We like Tightbond)
Clamps (our favorite) and Pipe Clamps
Clamping Squares – We use these for nearly every woodworking project that we do!
Sliding Compound Miter Saw
Dremel Rotary Tool
Make the Sides of the Tray
The sides of the tray are made from two 1/2” x 4” x 4 ft Poplar project boards. The long sides were cut at 24” each and the short sides at 16-3/4” each.
I wanted the bottom of the tray to fit into the wood, so I used a 3/8” x 1/2” Rabbeting Bit to cut a groove in the sides and end boards.
Since I intended to butt joint the tray ends (handle side) to the long sides of the tray, I routed rabbets the entire length of the long sides, but had to rabbet only the interior edges of short sides. The rabbet depth was approximately 1/8” deep. See photos below.
A routing table is a handy tool to have for projects like this.
This is the groove cut on the two side pieces.
Here you can see how the bottom of the tray is flush with the sides thanks to the routed groove.
The two end pieces were also routed but with 3/8” left unrouted on each end so that the rabbet is not visible when the short sides are glued to the ends of the long sides.
The router bit left rounded edges that needed to be squared off so that the tray would fit into the groove A Dremel was used to make a straight cut and then the excess wood was chipped out with a chisel.
You can see the cut the Dremel made here and then the pencil line indicates where the wood was removed. A sharp razor knife would also probably do the same as the Dremel tool, if you are careful.
Here you see the end pieces now have a squared off groove so that the bottom will seat properly when the tray is constructed.
Make the Handles
Measure the center of each end piece and mark with a pencil. A center finding ruler makes this a snap!
Each handle is 3 1/2” wide and is formed by using a 1 3/8” Forstner bit, a drill press, and then a jigsaw. I measured down 1/2’ and then marked off where each Forstner bit hole would be drilled.
Use a drill or drill press to make two holes for the sides of the handle.
Use a jigsaw to cut on the lines to form the handles.
Attach a 1/4” Roundover bit to the router and route each side of the handle.
Make the Bottom of the Tray
Use the 1/8” x 2 ft x 2 ft sheet of Birch plywood to make the bottom of the tray. Since the bottom is to be rabbeted into the tray sides, the bottom dimensions have to include the depth of the rabbet on each side of the tray sides. Additionally, the short pieces of the end tray are butt joined to the long pieces of the tray. The dimensions of the bottom plywood panel were determined by measurement after the sides were dry fitted together. Once the bottom dimensions were determined I used a carpenter’s square to draw a line at at the appropriate measurement and then made the cut using a circular saw.
Sand all of the pieces with an orbital sander.
Construct the Sides of the Tray
Glue the side and end pieces together. Use clamping squares in the corners with clamps to insure that all corners are square. Use pipe clamps to hold everything in place while the glue dries. A woodshop cannot have enough clamps on hand.
The Tray Unfinished with the Bottom Not Attached
Here the tray is unfinished and the bottom isn’t attached but you can see that it fits into place.
Stain the Tray
I didn’t have a stain color in my stock pile that I wanted to use on this tray, so I went shopping at Home Depot for a new color. I purchased Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner to use before staining and Weathered Oak stain. The sample boards in the stain section sold me on Weathered Oak; I liked how the stain made the wood look old barn wood.
Attach the Tray Bottom and Add the Decorative Brackets to the Sides
I attached the bottom of the tray to the sides with glue and brad nails. Felt pads will protect table surfaces from being scratched.
Decorative brackets were added and the tray was complete.
This tray has already made it’s way to the lake where when not used as décor, will be immensely useful for carrying food from the kitchen to the dock.
If you like this project, please pin it for others to discover.
Now it’s time to enjoy the trays that my friends made. Click on the link below to visit each project.
Designed Décor – DIY Serving Tray
Interior Frugalista – DIY Farmhouse Tray
H2OBungalow – Coastal Rope Handle Tray Tutorial
Virginia Sweet Pea – DIY Farmhouse Style Tray
My Repurposed Life – DIY Tray Using Metal Tiles
My Love 2 Create – DIY Chalkboard Serving Tray
Create And Babble – DIY Wooden Quilt Square Tray
The Kim Six Fix – Easy Hexagonal Tray
Domestically Speaking – DIY Coastal Tray