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A simple DIY tray made from scrap wood.
Last weekend Liam and I started sorting through our scrap wood pile in the shed so we’ll have less to move when we move into our first home in early December. After tossing out some of the badly warped timber, we decided to see if we could reduce the size of the stash further by making something out of some of the wood.
Neither of us were really in the mood for a complicated DIY project, so we quickly settled on using some of the scrap wood to make a simple wooden tray for our coffee table:
It’s nothing flashy – just a basic DIY tray – but it was easy to make and does the job well, so I thought I’d share how we made it in case you’d also like to make a wooden tray for your home!
P.S. Excuse the ~unstyled~ pictures. A bunch of my home decor is boxed up in preparation for moving into our first home. I wasn’t in the mood to pull it all out again to take a picture, because lazy, so you get these boring pictures instead.
Scrap wood coffee table tray
- Six pieces of timber, sanded until smooth (if required).
- Look at the picture below to see all of the pieces. You can make your tray any size you like.
- For reference, I used:
- Base pieces: Two pieces of timber, 140mm wide x 450mm long x 19mm high.
- Short sides: Two pieces of timber, 304mm long, 30mm wide, 12mm high.
- Long sides: 450mm long, 30mm wide, 12mm high.
- PVA wood glue.
- Wood clamps.
- Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint in Linen White
- Rust-Oleum Chalked protective top coat
- 1200 grit sandpaper
Cutting the wood for the tray:
To make our coffee table tray, we started with these six pieces of timber. I got Liam to cut them to size for me using a mitre saw because I’m a wuss and that thing scares me (feminist hero, right here):
I’ve labelled them so this tutorial will hopefully be easier to follow.
- Base pieces: A and B. These form the base of the tray.
- Side pieces: 1, 2, 3, and 4. These form the sides of the tray.
- 1 and 2 are for the long side of the tray.
- 3 and 4 are for the short side of the tray.
Assembling the coffee table tray:
The first step was creating the tray’s base. To do this, we ran a generous amount of wood glue along one side of piece A and piece B, then clamped them together using wood clamps. We left this to dry overnight just to make sure the glue was set.
Once the base was dry, we ran some glue along the sides of pieces 1 and 2 and clamped them to the base. We left them to dry for about 4 hours. Once they were dry, we did the same thing with pieces 3 and 4. Once again, we left them to dry for about four hours (there’s a lot of waiting around involved in this project, sorry).
Because we used straight pieces of wood that were cut well (thanks, Liam), the glue alone was enough to keep the tray together (even after I dropped it…twice). If you’re worried about the tray coming apart, you can always reinforce the glue by driving some nails into the side of the tray using a nail gun or a hammer.
Painting the coffee table tray:
Once the glue was dry, I removed the clamps and painted the tray white using three light coats of Linen White chalk paint. With chalk paint, I find that using multiple light coats (rather than one thick, heavy coat) tends to reduce the amount of brush strokes I leave on the finished piece. It also dries a lot quicker, especially on very humid or cold days.
Once the paint was dry, I then added two coats of matte clear varnish to the tray, letting the first coat dry completely before applying the second. I honestly don’t know if you need two coats, but I used two coats when repainting this side table and its held up well, so I thought I’d do it again with this tray.
Once the varnish had dried, I realised that I hadn’t been as careful as I should have been when applying it and had left some big brush marks as a result.
Hurr durr, I’m an idiot.
To fix this, I gave the entire tray a gentle sand with 1200 grit sandpaper. I didn’t want to rip the varnish off, just smooth things out, so I didn’t apply much pressure – just enough to get rid of the worst brush strokes.
And that was it!
I’m honestly pretty happy with how our coffee table tray turned out. It was a good way to use up some of our scrap wood and it stops me having to rest my mug/glass on the floor (where I am prone to accidentally kicking it and making a mess everywhere).