Monday, October 29, 2012

DIY wood tray (& overcoming tool fears)

Hello all! First off, I hope everyone on the east coast is staying safe and dry today!! We are praying that everyone comes out unscathed and the weather isn’t as bad as they are expecting!

Well I’ve been working my booty off this weekend peeps! I have worked SO hard on finishing off the bookcases – my body is screaming at me but I am so stinkin’ excited. I WILL show you this week, even if it kills me. OK, that’s extreme. Even if it makes me really tired. ;)

Just a couple more things to finish up, and then to decorate the things. I’ve had stuff on them for weeks now, but not really how I want them to stay. Sooo…the reveal will come this week, but it may be a couple more days.

Anyway, I continued the DIY from the weekend and finished up a project this morning that I started a couple weeks ago. After I painted the coffee table to a pretty white color, I knew I wanted to add a little somethin’ to it – a wood tray for the top. Now I’m not really a decorate the coffee table kind of girl – I try and then inevitably the surface ends up covered with mail and paper and Legos.

But I thought adding a tray would be a nice in between – it would keep the Legos corralled and would be pretty at the same time. I shopped around a bit for a tray the right size, and found one for $20 at Target – it was the perfect size, but I didn’t care for the design and I really didn’t want to spend $20 when I figured I could make one myself.

See, I had all the wood I needed in the garage. Thing is…I had to overcome one of my tool fears to make this happen. I would have to learn how to use the circular saw.

Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnn.

I’ve never used one because, well, they scare me. :) But when I thought about it, I realized it was silly when I was thisclose to a pretty (free!) tray – I knew I needed to overcome my fears.

So I took a trip out to my awesome True Value and took a look at their power tool selection:

I was a little overwhelmed but quickly knocked out the bigger options – I wanted my saw to be as small as possible because for me small = manageable. And then when I saw there were cordless options I was sold! That is because one of the biggest fears I have about circular saws is accidentally cutting the cord and electrocuting myself. For real.

So I landed on this one:

master mechanic saw

Master Mechanic is the True Value brand (which I didn’t realize till they told me that day) and I have been really pleased with this brand so far – the drill I bought last year was the same and I LOVE it.

I can’t remember the cost, but it was way less than I thought I was going to pay – I think it was $60. The blade is pretty small, but plenty big to handle the items I’ll be cutting. And my favorite part of course is that there’s no cord – it’s battery operated:

master mechanic cordless circular saw

So I charged it up, set my wood up on saw horses, and had hubby hold the end of the wood as I cut it.

Umm…I’m hooked. It was FUN. Fun in the I’m a DIY kind of girl and love power tools kind of way. If you’re not like me it may not be as exhilarating. ;)

DIY wood tray

I didn’t take pictures of this part just because our hands were full and I wanted to focus on using the tool. I will say it was SO much simpler than I thought it would be. And the safety features made me feel much calmer about using it.

You can see above that I went ahead and put a couple of coats of dark walnut stain on it before I moved on.

Making the tray was so simple – just the bottom piece, and then the edges (again scrap wood I had):

DIY wood tray

If you aren’t great with mitered corners (where they meet up at an angle like that) you could just butt them up to each other – when it’s done you would hardly notice.

I fit them all together first to make sure the worked before I nailed them into the square base. Oh, and I stained the insides of them as well:

DIY wood tray

I wanted to stain all the inside parts first so the stain wouldn’t gum up in the corners. I can’t remember why I didn’t just go ahead and stain the whole thing before I put it all together, but I’m sure I had a good reason. Whatever. ;)

There were just a few more parts to stain:

DIY wood tray   DIY wood tray

I picked up these felt jobbies while at TV to add to the bottom:

I use these things on everything! This keeps the wood from scratching up surfaces underneath.

The tray sat mostly done for a couple weeks till I finished it up this morning. I knew I wanted to add handles, and originally planned on installing regular cabinet hardware to the sides. Then I thought it may be cool to use some thick rope instead, but it was so thick I couldn’t tie a knot in it to secure it.

So I came up with another idea this weekend and I LOVE how it turned out! I grabbed one of my old belts (I haven’t worn a belt in years!) and cut two strips out of it. I used my cabinet hardware tool to determine where the holes needed to go:

installing hardware

Then just drilled through the belt and the wood for the screw:

I wanted to use something a little prettier than a screw, but couldn’t find anything in my stash that would work. I just used some flat end screws I had (they don’t have the pointy ends):

decorating the coffee table

I was going to cover the screw heads or at least put some Rub n Buff on them, but I really don’t mind them at all, at least so far. I kinda dig the look.

One of the reasons I love this coffee table so much is the drawers that hold all of our remotes and pens and coasters. Since that stuff doesn't normally stay out I was able to pretty the tray up a bit:

decorating the coffee table

I just put some of my magazines and catalogs in there with a few other pretties.

The “handles” work awesome – and they’ll stretch out more as we use them. I love how the combo of the leather with the dark wood against the light table:

DIY wood tray leather handles

And honestly? I think I may try keeping this stuff in there – it may prevent us from using it as a dumping zone. A girl can hope. :) And with the added handles, it’s easy to just take it off for Lego play.

I love how it came together and love even more than it didn’t cost me a dime! It’s exactly what I wanted for the table and this space:

DIY wood tray leather handles So do you decorate your coffee table? Or does it stay cleared off just so you can fill it with clutter like me? It sure is nice to have this surface pretty and organized – we’ll just see if it stays that way. I’ll let you know. ;)


I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.


  1. Okay, I LOVE the leather handle. Way to go, Sarah!

    Love from the Hurricane Zone! ;)

  2. LOVE this! I really like the added detailing of the belt, too. Such a great idea. :-)

  3. I love this tray! And I'm so inspired that you got over your fear of the saw. I'm trying to get myself to do the same thing! Belt strap handles are amazing. Thanks for sharing!!

  4. I'm coming over and stealing that tray!!

  5. Looks great, I love the leather straps! Stephanie

  6. Awesome job Sarah! I've never used a saw. I think if I had the opportunity I would. The tray turned out great and the detail of the leather handles is perfect. =)

    ~ Catie

  7. Gorgeous!
    I made a bottle cap tray for our coffee table to corral magazines and remotes. And maybe the usual 5 bottles of nail polish. Our coffee table always ends up covered in junk. I think maybe we're getting slightly better. Maybe.
    Good luck!

  8. I love it! Almost ashamed to admit I'd like to quit my job and learn to use power tools. If I win the lottery I'll totally do it... I wouldn't have thought about cutting the cord, I am usually more worried about losing fingers or sending the whole thing flying!

  9. I'm with ya... circular saws = scary. Luckily my hubs isn't afraid so I pawn all my sawing off on him! He'll use any excuse to break out the power tools anyway, so it's a win-win!

  10. I love the tray with its leather handle! I cannot decorate our coffee table because my 1-year-old clears it off every single day!

  11. Love it!! And i love the blog tile...overcoming tool fears~ HA ;)

    ~ Jillian

  12. Your tray is awesome - you are very creative. (I also love the coffee table it is sitting on) On my coffee table I have a tray which I painted white, added beach sand, shells from my travels and a little white adirondack chair I bought in Vermont.

  13. Yeah for mastering power tools! Double yeah for such a cool tray. Love the leather handles!!

  14. Your tray turned out so pretty! I also have a tray on my coffee table. Mine was a clearance find at Pier 1 (for $6!). It's red with a pretty handpainted floral design. On it sits a birdcage, which I'm using as a cloche for a pumpkin right now. Also have a little green glass bottle and a blue tealight candle holder. I love being able to easily move the tray when we play a game or my daughter wants to color!

  15. I won a dough bowl from Dayspring and I put it on the coffee table with remotes and Wii nunchucks. Pretty and functional. Why didn't I think of it sooner?? Wish I was as handy with tools - might have to make that my new year's resolution.

  16. This looks awesome! Nice work. Hopefully the table stays clutter free. Mine NEVER seems to.

    Normally I let my husband handle the power tools but you are inspiring me to try my hand at it for the next project! Move over hubby, a girl needs her tools!!

  17. I have a fear of power tools too, but whenever I use them I feel empowered. (No pun intended :D) Your tray came out beautiful! Love the leather handle detail.

  18. Good job! I love trays for corraling small items. But,, buy them because I'm not that crafty. Oh, well. Maybe one day I'll make something (or make my husband make something, lol). Consider me impressed!

  19. I love LOVE love this blog!!! So inspiring. I try and do a small diy project every weekend, and I get lots of ideas from right here!! Keep on keeping on girl, you are absolutely amazing!
    Follow me on twitter @lindsayhintz

  20. I loveeee this idea... and its soo beautiful... :)... you really are a DIY goddess <3

  21. Wow, it looks so great! How did you attach the sides to the bottom?

  22. Uhhh, the thought of using a circular saw kinda makes my tummy sick. I bought a table saw so I wouldn't have to use the circular saw. Good job on the tray!

  23. Hi Sarah, Your tray came out great. I have a tray on my coffee table & love it too.

  24. I always wait for Hubby to come home to do saw projects for me... I've been waiting too long some/most times. Think I need to bite the bullet, take inspiration from you, and overcome my fear! Thanks for always inspiring me!

  25. Great job! Isn't liberating to use a power tool especially a circular saw. I still have yet to do metered corners, I have always let my husband do that one. I will add it to my must do's!

  26. WOW! Love the tray. I overcame my power tool fears about a year and a half ago! Love using them. I have a couple of leather trays that I would like to use on my coffeetable, but leather on leather would be to much. I think I'm going to paint the larger one and "corral" the stuff that ends up on our table. I like to decorate the table but it still collects stuff.
    Love reading your blog!

  27. Callie, I just used a nail gun to secure them to the base. :)

  28. Claudia -- the thought of a table saw makes MY tummy sick!! Ha! I still won't go near that one. ;)

  29. I love the tray! So funny that I finally overcame my fear of a circular saw last week, too- and with a cordless saw! I liked that it is smaller and not as loud and scary. My cuts were pretty wobbly, though. Oh, and those handles are brilliant! If you decide to cover the screws, I bet you could glue decorative nail heads on them- those nail head strips have sections with no pointy thing.

  30. Once again, I am amazified by your ability to create. Beautiful tray. Our coffee table is always cluttered with magazines, books, remotes, & Legos....I need to find one with drawers to put the stuff in but a tray would take care of coralling some of it. My grandma used to say "jobbies"...I love that!

  31. very cute! Congrats for taking up the power tools - you're never going to put them down again!!!

    Happy Tuesday xox

  32. I love how it turned out! Good for you on purchasing your saw and overcoming your fear. I use my husband's tools often and feel so proud when something works for me.
    Our coffee table is always decorated and stays that way usually, mainly because we don't have kids at home and we don't use that room often. The office and games room/ they are different stories!
    Debbie :)

  33. Love your tray, Sarah. Especially your use of the leather from an old belt as the handles. I try to re-use items like that, too, whenever I can for my projects. Right now my coffee table is a large old wooden box that was custom made for a large telescope. Hubby and I purchased it at an estate sale. It currently sits undecorated in front of my sofa. Trying to decide what to do...

  34. Kristin @ bliss-athome.comOctober 30, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Very cool! Love the leather on handles! xo Kristin

  35. It's wonderful, and of course I love what you did with the table as well.

    Excuse the question: I get that the saw will be used frequently now that you own one and mastered it, but it doesn't make the tray exactly 'free"...(did you just know someone was going to mention that? ha. Oy, and it had to be ME...) Anyway, I'm guessing your partnership with True Value is what made it happen/kept it free.

    Loved the repurposing with the belt. Someone mentioned some kind of tack for the handle-the screws do look fine, maybe dab a dot of stain on them or something, but got me to thinking about the furniture tacks/brads whatevers you used on your chair recently. I guess they are too large for the tray perhaps.

    I am SO thankful to report that Sandy the storm was not a problem for us in PA like it was predicted.

  36. Chrissy, I don't consider the cost of my tools in with projects. Maybe I should, but something I'll use hundreds of times doesn't factor into one project for me. :) So glad you are OK in PA!

  37. Great tray, Sarah! I love it and it's perfect on your coffee table. I've only used a circular saw a few times. Mine lives in the basement--Yikes!. It was when I added shelves to a closet and needed to cut additional supports for the shelves. Circular saws still freak me out a bit, but I didn't lose any fingers. lol They are just so LOUD! Good job overcoming that fear! :)

  38. My children seem to have taken over the job of decorating the coffee table in the living room! And I decorate the ottoman in the den with a magazine, a remote, and my glasses when I collapse for a little nap on the couch!

    Your tray looks lovely on your newly painted table. You have about convinced me to try some chalk paint. Maybe you could experiment with making your own so we can all see if the homemade version works? You know- since you have 2 others to compare it to! Nothing like a stranger trying to add to your to do list, eh?

  39. We have a huge, no a ginormous ottoman and I have not been able to find a big enough. It's is the answer to my dilemma. Thanks for the tutorial I'm going to have my hubby show me how to use his tools and make me one of these!


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