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Oak Serving Tray

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.

Oak serving tray with glasses, pitcher

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 day

Estimated Cost


Tools and Materials


  • Miterbox and saw
  • Clamps with 18-in capacity
  • 120-grit, 180-grit sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • 1-in brush
  • Square
  • Painter's tape
  • Fine-grit sanding sponge
  • Tack cloth


  • 2 - 1/2 x 2 x 48 red oak boards
  • 1/2 x 24 x 48 oak plywood
  • Finish option 1:
  • Cabot oil-based stain, half pint, Moonshadow, #78062
  • Minwax satin polyurethane, 8 ounces, #45860
  • Valspar paint: Fabulous Red, #1011-2; Pale Cordovan, #3010-7; Field of Pines, #5004-4A; Hacienda Tile, #2010-4; Jekyll Grand Dining Sea Mist, #5005-3C; Red Ochre, #2011-4
  • Finish option 2:
  • Spray adhesive
  • Sherwin Williams paint, Snowbound, HGSW4062; Remington Red, HGSW1061; Wilderness Trail, HGSW2281
  • 13.5-oz Locktite spray adhesive
  • Butcher’s paper
  • 2 – Style Selections wood round cabinet knobs, packs of 2 (optional)

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

Missing anything? Shop Online

Project Resources


Build the Tray

Step 1

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 (Project Diagram).

Step 2

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.

Good to Know

By cutting the end pieces to fit the base, you’ll reduce gaps between the end pieces and the front and back pieces.

Step 3

Clamping front and back to ends and tray bottom

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.

Step 4

Sand the tray sides with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper and wipe the surfaces clean with a tack cloth.

Finish Option 1

Step 1

Apply a coat of stain to the entire project. (We used Cabot oil-based stain, Moonshadow.) Let the stain dry before the next step.

Good to Know

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.

Step 2

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 at your discretion. 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.

Step 3

Brush paint between tape strips on tray

Repeat for the remaining stripes. After the paint dries overnight, seal the entire tray with two coats of satin polyurethane.

Christmas-Theme Finish Option

Step 1

Paint the tray in a variety of colors to suite your style.

Apply painter’s tape around the inside faces of the tray ends, front, and back and whitewash the top surface of the tray bottom. We mixed a 50/50 ratio of water and Sherwin-Williams Snowbound (HGSW4062). Let the paint mixture dry before the next step.

Step 2

Lightly sand the surface with a fine-grit sanding sponge, wipe with a tack cloth, and then spray the bottom with two coats of clear-satin polyurethane finish and let dry.

Step 3

Enlarge the pattern (Project Diagram) by 250 percent and trim to fit inside the serving tray. Cut the openings in the pattern that will receive the accent colors. Place the pattern inside the tray and trace the colored pattern lightly with a pencil. Choose the color pattern you like.

Good to Know

For a time-saving alternative to making your own stencil, order the Herringbone Shuffle craft stencil (13.5-in x 18-in Mylar) from Royal Design Studio (royaldesignstudio.com).

Step 4

Lay painter’s tape around the green segments of the pattern and apply Wilderness Trail (HGSW2281) paint with a light brush strokes to the designated areas.

Step 5

After the paint dries, apply painter’s tape around the red segments of the pattern and mask off the tray surface with painter’s tape and butcher paper, then paint the segments Remington Red (HGSW1061). After the paint dries, remove the painter’s tape and butcher paper.

Good to Know

Always work in a well ventilated area when using spray paint.

Step 6

Apply painter’s tape and butcher’s paper to mask the gold accent areas traced in pencil on the tray surface, then mask off the remaining tray face. Apply tape to the perimeter of the sides of the tray, leaving a narrow band at the top and bottom of the sides.

Step 7

Spray the exposed areas with gold metallic paint to leave a gold accent band around the top of the tray sides, the bottom of the tray sides, the inside of the sides, and the gold portions of the chevron pattern. After the paint dries, remove the tape.

Step 8

Wood tray with a stenciled holiday theme.

If you would like to add feet, spray four wooden cabinet knobs with the gold metallic paint and let dry. Adhere them to the tray corners with wood glue.