Carry food and drinks in style with this colorful, easy-to-make serving tray you can build in a weekend using simple tools and materials.
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Cut a piece of 1/2-in-thick oak plywood 13-in long and 17-in wide for the base (A). (The grain should run from front to back, not side to side.) If you don't have a table saw, ask a Lowe's associate to make the cut for you in the store. Sand both sides of the tray with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper.
From 1/2-in x 2-in oak, cut two end pieces (B) that match the 13-in width of the plywood base. Glue and clamp the ends (B) to the base (A) with the ends and edges flush. Let dry about two hours.
By the cutting the end pieces to fit the base, you'll reduce gaps between the end pieces and the front and back pieces.
Measure between the outside faces of the ends (B) and cut the front and back (C) to that length (about 18 inches). Glue and clamp the front and back to the base (A) and ends; let dry.
Sand the tray sides with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper. Wipe the surfaces clean and apply a coat of stain. (We used Cabot oil-based stain tinted Moonshadow.) Let the stain dry before the next step.
It's possible to apply a latex paint over an oil-based stain if the stain has dried thoroughly. If you don't notice any solvent odor coming from the wood, the stain is dry enough to paint.
Use a square as a guide to mark light pencil lines defining the width of the painted stripes. The stripes shown vary from 1/2-in to 1-3/4-in wide. Apply painter's tape around the inside faces of the tray ends, front, and back. Then apply tape beside the pencil lines and paint between the tape strips. After the paint dries, remove the tape.
Repeat for the remaining stripes. After the paint dries overnight, seal the entire tray with two coats of satin polyurethane.