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How to Build a Rustic Footed Tray

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Rustic Tray

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.

SO I joined a DIY monthly challenge. It was to make your own footed tray. It actually was not too bad. I have a rule that if ‘I’ am making something then it will be custom to ME. In this case, it just needed to be a rustic wooden tray. I love scrolling Pinterest for ideas. And if you are not following me yet, please do. Anyways, I get a general idea and then create it for MY space. I do not look at material lists etc. Unfortunately, it probably makes following me hard, because that is also not a strong suit for me to write. I make up the design as I go. If something is NOT working, I have no problem trying another way. I had to do that for this project because I had not done this type of thing before.

1. Get Ideal Measurements

First off, I had zero idea where I would want to place this rustic tray. Clutter drives me nuts so did not want a piece with no use or filling up unused space. So I decided my kitchen countertops or my dining room table would be ideal. I measured out my fall centerpiece and different placements around the kitchen. It came to be about 14″ by 14″ for the dining table and 8″ by 12″ or 8″ by 14″ in the kitchen. I need a visual to ‘see’ if something will be too big or too small. If I do not have a piece that I can use temporarily I will cut and tape paper together to see if I like the size. Ideally, I decided to try around 14″ by 14″ but not bigger than that. Especially if I used it on my dining room table.

2. Find the Material

So I savage barn wood. Please read my article on the many ways you can repurpose barn wood. We also cut down cedar trees when we built our house. So I have piles of cedar planks. I LOVE seeing bark on the planks. However, I did not have the desire to 1. use a dowel and combine planks to make the size needed and 2. I did not want a cut edge when the rest of the piece was ‘natural’. Isn’t that cedar plank so pretty on the top right corner of the pic on the right? I think I may still cut this down and have it bump up against my wall along the side of my kitchen countertops.

So my other ‘easy’ option was to use wood that was in the barns lean too which were stored on a shelf. I put various pieces together and moved around so I could have an idea of what it would look like. I loved the nail holes so decided I would cut according and it would give it that vintage or rustic charm I wanted. Please read the article on adding character to your home for other ideas.

3. Clean the savage pieces

First squirt Dawn soap on the board. Spray with a water hose. Finally, brush with a good sturdy broom. Make sure to go over all the dirty pieces and get all 4 sides. Let dry in the warm sun.

I have never had an issue with bugs or a ‘smell’ coming from barn wood. So this process works. Other ways on youtube were setting up a structure and heat the wood to a certain temperature for x long. However, I have been told that as long as you cut the piece and don’t see bugs you should be fine. I know if I used wood left out in the elements I WOULD use the heat idea.

4. Decide a Pattern

I wanted to be able to see the nail holes so worked on making sure my measurements had them alternating along with the widths. It was a back and forth in seeing what measurements could be with nail placements. I only needed two boards instead of the 3 that I grabbed.

4. Arrange the boards

In order to get the ideal measurements of around 14″ by 14″ I needed to have more space between the boards. Or I could have them smashed together at 12″ and add another board. However, I did not like the look of smushed together. The boards are warped so would need some work to get ‘right’. I was afraid the rustic charm might get lost. Plus, I did not have the desire to devote ‘too’ much time on a simple footed tray. I ended up going in between with 13″ in length – a small gap but not as large as the total 14″ by 14″ one.

4. Create ONE piece

Make sure to flip your pieces OVER and make sure to line up the pieces correctly. Put wood glue down and screw* your connecting strip. This was hard. I had a scrap cut down 2″ by 4″ from my outhouse remodel. However, once I flipped the tray over I could ‘see’ it. The board was too thick. I could not cut back the length because of the smaller width boards was on one end and it needed to be long enough to connect all 4 pieces. I then found a piece of scrapped cedar board from the DIY Christmas Present project that I worked on the same day.

*the 2 by 4 was ‘big’ enough for a screw but once I went to the thinner strips the screws I had on hand were too long.

Next, I tried using a staple gun but the staples were not big enough. I finally settled on using a finish nail gun but made sure the nails were not too long to poke through the front.

Connecting PIeces of Wood 2

Using another piece of wood for the ‘footed’ part of this tray was the original plan. However, it did not look right. It would be uneven due to the width being warped on the boards. Also there was no good way to attach that was pleasing to the eye. It just looked too ‘rough’.

So I tried reusing dresser knobs. Since the wood footed idea was scrapped I needed to secure the tray better. I found more pieces of scrap wood. This time it was from the dresser drawers I cut down. By the time I was done I nailed 3 pieces of thin scrap wood with a nail gun to make it secure.

5. Add your ‘footed’ piece

I put 4 knobs down and set the tray on top. I took different angles pictures to see if it looked bad. This was also done in Step 4 when I decided to scrap the ‘wood’ foot. Measure out so each knob is the same distance from the edges AND on solid wood. My ideal place would had caused some knobs to be ‘between’ pieces of wood. Mark an X so you can drill.

By this time I was ready to call it a night but also wanted to be done. I should know by now that is when mistakes occur. The original idea was to use a deck screw to attach it to the tray. I figured I would put one of those floor protectors over the exposed screw. Can you imagine how bad that would look???? Luckily I could not get the screw to go in the solid piece of the knob no matter what drill bit I used. I called it a night and googled HOW to attach drawer knobs to wood. By looking at Pinterest earlier I knew people had used this option before. Anyways I found out there are double edge screws! You can see them in one of the pictures above.

I went to the hardware store with the knob in hand and got the shortest double edge screw possible. The technical term is Dowel Screw. It was STILL too long but that is ok.

In order to make sure the screw did not go THROUGH the tray it was important to tape the drill. Drill the tray until the tape is on the edge. I tried drilling the screw in but what worked best was to attached the screw in the knob and hand turning the knob to the tray.

6. Apply Protector

This footed tray is going to be primarily on my dining table or in my kitchen. The odds of food landing on it are high. So two coats of protector finish went on.

7. Finished Rustic Piece

8. Decorate your Wooden Tray

So I went through various stages in decorating. I love taking pictures and viewing through my phone to see if I like it instead of just in person deciding. My favorite is the second row pic on left: no burlap and tree on right.

This scrap piece of 2″ by 4″ was painted already from other sign projects. Since this is on my dining table I decide to use the start of our meal time prayer instead of a winter/Christmas saying. The wood piece can now be used as a foundation piece in other centerpieces. To finish it, a cricut and a typewriter font was used to print off the saying on vinyl.

I decided to try neutral beaded Wood garland strands. I got mine as an in store purchase at Walmart but below are similar affiliate links to Amazon. This decorated rustic footed tray cost me less than $20. Since the wood, feet, protector finish, and winter tree were already on hand.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

I went a window shopping and found these cute items you could also try!

Votive Candle

Beaded Weather Pumpkin

Wood Candle Holder

18″ Lit Tree

From Amazon if do not want to make yourself: Wood Sign

9. Other ideas besides a rustic wooden tray!!!

Now on to the fun part. This was apart of #bloggerdiychallenge. Here are the links to my friends’ footed trays! Aren’t you excited to see what other unique ideas are out there?? I am!!

I hope you enjoyed this challenge and it motivated to create your own footed tray!

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31 thoughts on “How to Build a Rustic Footed Tray

  1. I love that you repurposed old wood to make your footed tray! I used new wood for mine and had to rough it up a bit first so it didn’t look so new 😉

  2. Renee, your tray turned out awesome! I am “jealous” that you can use all those tools! I am much too timid!
    You are so talented and creative! Thanks for sharing your talents with us!

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