Do your parties end with carpet stains and strange odors?
Unfortunately spills happen. I know all too well.
A few years back we had everyone over to cheer on the Steelers when they played the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
Our beloved Steelers didn’t fair so well.
And in the process beer was spilled on the family room carpet. If I had a nice serving tray for drinks this catastrophe could have been avoided.
When your team loses the Super Bowl and you have to clean up a hoppy mess it’s okay to shed a tear or two.
If you want a talking point for your next party and don’t mind a little woodworking then this simple serving tray project is for you.
As a bonus, you’ll learn several carpentry tips that you’ll use on future DIY adventures.
You can build an awesome tray with a few things from the home store and be done in a day or two. It’ll take you about 3 to 4 hours of actual working time.
Here’s the complete Supply List:
- 1 x 12 x 24 inch Red Oak Board (1 @ $12.96)
- 3/4 x 2 1/2 x 48 inch Red Oak Board (3 @ $6.47 each)
- 36 inch Bar Clamp (optional but costs $39.98 each)
- 120 grit sandpaper ($3.98)
- 220 grit sandpaper ($3.98)
- Tack cloths ($2.09)
- Minwax Wipe-on Poly ($11.97)
- Minwax Staining Cloths ($8.97)
- 6d Finish Nails 2 inch in length ($3.98)
- Titebond II Wood Glue ($2.98)
- Drill and Drill bits (Free or borrow)
- Hammer ($0.00)
- Nail Set ($1.98)
- Random Orbital Sander (optional but can be bought for $29.00 on up)
- Circular Saw (Free or borrow)
- 60 tooth Circular Saw Blade ($15)
- Speed Square 12 inch ($7.98)
- Rags (free)
- Latex gloves ($1.98)
- Respirator ($5.00)
- Protective Eye Glasses ($10.00)
- Scrap 2 x 12s (usually in the lumber section of home stores and can be purchased cheaply)
I’ll be the first to admit that my list is intimidating.
But you might already have a lot this stuff hanging around the garage.
I guarantee you that many of these items will come in handy for other home improvements. And, hey, who doesn’t want a Speed Square? They’re awesome!!
By the end of this tutorial you’ll learn a new way to stain wood, pickup several carpentry tips and feel way more comfortable with your next project involving wood.
Alrighty, let’s get started
EASILY MAKE STRAIGHT CUTS OF WOOD
The first step in making a cool modern serving tray is to cut the wood you’ll be using.
What’s the easiest way to make a straight cut into wood?
All you need is a circular saw and a 12 inch speed square.
Good circular saws can be bought for $40 and you’ll want one if you’re going to do any DIY around the house.
My serving tray doesn’t require miter cuts (a 45 degree angle cut at the edge of a piece of wood). And I purposely did this so that you don’t have to fiddle with them.
Grab your two pieces of scrap 2 x 12 boards. Lay them on a flat surface.
The 1 x 12 x 24 inch red oak board in the supply list will be the base of the tray. I actually bought a board that was 48 inches in length because Lowe’s was out of the 24 inch size.
No worries though.
If a 24 or 48 inch board is too big for you then trim it by placing about 75% of the board on top of the 2 x 12s.
Make the circular saw blade depth 1 1/4 inches since the thickness of the board is 1 inch. Do this so that your saw’s blade will only go 1/4 inch beyond the oak board.
This helps prevent the board from splintering when you cut it.
Speaking of splintering . . . you can pretty much eliminate it by using a circular saw blade that has 60 teeth.
It’s well worth it to buy this kind of blade. Especially if you’re going to be doing other carpentry work that requires a nice finished look (think shelving, cabinets, etc.)
Okay, back to your tray base.
Determine how long you want the base to be. Then make a straight line across it using the speed square and a pencil.
Slide the speed square to the side of the pencil mark. Grab your circular saw and butt it agains the square until the blade lines up with your mark.
Put your body weight onto the portion of the oak board that’s resting on the 2 x 12s. And with both hands on the circular saw make your cut with a nice smooth easy pace – not too fast and not too slow.
You’ve got yourself a beautifully cut piece of oak. I made my base 24 inches long.
You can do this exact same process for the 4 rails that will make up the sides of the tray.
I bought 3 (3/4 x 2 1/2 x 48 inches) red oak boards for the rails.
You can decide how you’d like the rails to look on the tray but I chose to make the short sides the same width as the base, so roughly 12 inches.
Since each short rail is 3/4 inches thick the total length of the long rails need to be 1.5 inches longer than the base.
So in this case that makes them 1 1/2 inches plus 24 inches = 25 1/2 inches long.
All in all, you have to make a total of 5 cuts. A pizza has what, like 8 cuts for a small or 10 cuts for a medium. So 5 cuts is child’s play.
With all the boards cut the next step is to stain them. I’ve got a NEW easy method for doing this without all the fumes!!!!
HOW TO STAIN WOOD WITHOUT ALL THE FUMES AND MESS
I’m always on the look out for new and exciting products while shopping at the home stores.
And I found one: Minxwax Wood Finishing Cloths
Here’s the deal, I did this project in my garage. As such, I wanted to keep the fumes to a minimum so that my family wouldn’t kill me and we’d all live to see the next day.
As you might know I love Minmax’s Polyshades because it’s a stain with polyurethane in it. You don’t have to add the polyurethane after the staining process.
But Polyshades needs a lot of ventilation and it can be messy to use.
Those are two reasons I used the Finishing Cloths instead of Polyshades. The cloths come in a resealable packet and cover about 50 square feet.
Cleanup is with soap and water versus mineral spirits (like with oil based stains).
Before using the Finishing Cloths I sanded all the pieces of wood with 120 then 220 grit sandpaper.
Admittedly it’s a lot easier if you use a random orbital sander. Trust me, you’ll use it for all kinds of painting projects.
Sanding the wood will expose the grain and prep it for the stain. I also used the 220 grit to sand down the sharp edges. It gives the project a warmer tone and feel.
To ensure a good stained finish rub the boards with a tack cloth. This will remove all the fine bits of dust and debris.
With your gloves on you can apply stain to your boards using the Finishing Cloths. Apply the stain in the direction of the grain. The finish will dry in 1 hour.
This is another great advantage of the Finishing Cloths – DRYING TIME!!!
In my case, the finish was dry in about 30-45 minutes but I still waited the full hour before applying successive coats.
I chose to apply 3 coats for a deeper and richer look.
With all the wood stained and looking good you can assemble the serving tray.
I’m going to show you the lazy man’s way of doing it though!!!
ASSEMBLING SERVING TRAYS: THE LAZY MAN’S WAY
Here’s a little story.
I told my wife our existing serving tray was broken and I that I wanted to build a new one.
Her reaction was not exactly warm and cuddly.
What does a guy do who is passionate about DIY and loves sharing ideas: DISOBEY HIS WIFE (feel free to add your thoughts on this in the comments).
I knew that I’d have to be quick with this project. There would be no time for fancy joints.
That’s where clamps, wood glue, and finishing nails enter the picture my friend.
Add a bead of Titebond wood glue to the short edges of the tray (the 12 inch edges), push the 12 inch boards into the glue and clamp them tight.
Now you can drill holes along the edge of the 12 inch boards. Hammer the 6d nails in place. For a nice finished look use your nail set to get the 6d nail heads slightly below the surface of the wood.
If you’re meticulous about your work you could leave the clamps on the wood overnight and allow the wood glue to setup. That’s what I did because it was Saturday when I did this project and we had nothing going on Sunday.
Once you have the short 12 inch boards good to go you can attach the longer boards that make up the other two sides of the serving tray.
Again, add Titebond glue to the bottom edge of the base then attach the longer boards using clamps. You can stagger the clamps in order to drill holes equidistant from each other.
Each long board’s vertical edge, 4 total, also had 2 holes drilled into the them.
This allowed 2 nails to be sunk into the short 12 inch boards, linking the entire unit together.
You can use stainable wood filler on all the nail holes. Allow the filler to dry then stain the filled holes with a Finishing Cloth.
I know there are better ways to make the joints. But Titebond is a great wood clue. That coupled with the nails and clamps will make your serving tray strong enough.
Unless you’re planning on stacking the tray with 50 pounds of beer and salami, I doubt it will ever break apart!!!
Here’s the complete video tutorial with all the step-by-step instructions. I added a nice outtake at the end if you like beer
Hopefully you learned a few things from this tutorial. Here’s what you should remember:
- Make straight cuts in wood using a circular saw and speed square
- Minmax wood Finishing Cloths help you stain without stinky fumes
- Titebond glue, 6d Penny Nails and clamps make wood projects STRONG
Maybe you’d like to add your 2 cents, go ahead in the comments. I’m sure I missed some tip that you know about. Please leave your comment so that we can all learn
Many thanks to Lowe’s for their continued support and making me a Lowe’s Creative Ideas blogger.
They provided some dinero for this project but all the opinions about spilled beer and Super Bowl crying are from me.
You can get more inspirational home improvement ideas by clicking over to the Creative Ideas website. Here’s the link http://www.lowes.com/creative-ideas.
If you’re a Pinterest fan, Lowe’s also has a ton of pins for home projects (3,545,565 people like their boards and I’m guessing you might too).
Thanks, as always, for reading, watching, and being interested in DIY. I love it and hope you get struck by Cupid’s arrow just like me.