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Serving Tray

Serving Tray

by Rob Brown

Serving TrayAdd versatility to your outdoor living space with a handcrafted wooden tray that transforms your ottoman into a functional serving surface. Customize your project with a visit to your local Home Hardware or Home Hardware Building Centre location to choose a wood finish and cabinet hardware to match your décor.

What you'll need


  • 1" thick solid lumber - 6" wide x 42" long
  • 1" thick solid lumber - 5" wide x 75" long
  • carpenter glue 2020-173
  • masking tape 1670-686
  • polyurethane 1877-525
  • cabinet handles 2373-782

Here's how

  1. Break out four sides and cut to final thickness and width (shown: 15" x 25").
  2. Break out the slats and dress them to final thickness.
  3. Cut mitres on the one end of each side.
  4. Mark for length and cut mitre on other end of each piece. (photo 1)
  5. Machine 1/4" wide groove in sides to accept bottom slats. (photo 2)
  6. Determine exact dimensions of slats, taking depth of grooves into account. (photo 3)
  7. Cut the slats to final size, allowing 1/4" between slats.
  8. Machine rabbet around outer edge of slats. (photo 4)
  9. Sand parts and break edges.
  10. With four sides face down on a flat surface and butted end-to-end, apply ample masking tape across the joints.
  11. Do a dry assembly and make necessary adjustments. (photo 5)
  12. Apply glue to mitres, grooves, and slat tenons. Assemble tray. (photo 6)
  13. When dry, flush any corners, sand outer edges, and break sharp edges.
  14. Drill for handles.
  15. Apply 3 coats of finish.
  16. Attach handles.

Mitred Corners

With the sides cut to width and thickness, mitre the corners, ending at the finished length.

Serving Tray How To

Slightly Proud

When making the first cut for the 1/4" groove, ensure the top of the groove is positioned slightly above the slat when both parts are sitting on a flat surface.

Exact Measurements

Using a straight edge, measure the length of the long and short grooves. Make the slats finish about 1/16" shy of these dimensions, all the way around the tray. Plan for a 1/4" wide gap between the slats.

Run the Rabbets

Machine the rabbets in the underside of the slats. Be sure to machine only the edges that will finish on the outer perimeter.
Dry Assembly
A dry run is crucial to work out any kinks, and to double-check that everything fits. With tape on the outer mitred joints, fold the sides together and insert the slats, bringing the last corner together with the slats in place.

Gluing Mitres
Add a very light coating of glue on the mitred ends and rub into the wood. After waiting a few minutes, apply more glue and continue the assembly. The first light coat of glue helps fill the end grain pores so the joint isn't too dry.

Rob Brown designs and builds custom furniture and is editor of Canadian Woodworking and Home Improvement magazine.

Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement

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