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Outdoor Serving Tray and Stand

Make this portable tray and stand as an end table for your other outdoor furniture, a serving tray for entertaining, or a potting supplies carrier for gardening.

Serving Tray Stand

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

A few hours

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Measuring tape
  • Miter box and handsaw or jigsaw
  • Clamps
  • Square
  • Hammer
  • Cordless drill and driver bit
  • Countersinking pilot bit
  • 1/8-in, 5/32-in, and 1/4-in drill bits
  • Utility knife
  • Hot-glue gun and glue sticks
  • Wood glue


  • See Cutting Diagram for lumber needed
  • #8 x 1-1/2-in flathead wood screws
  • #10-24 x 2-1/2-in panhead machine screws
  • #10 flat washers
  • #10-24 wing nuts
  • 1/4-in x 100-ft sisal rope, #349212
  • Water heater drain pan, #543480
  • Valspar spray paint: Leafy Rise, Secluded Garden

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.

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All of the cuts for this project can be completed with a jigsaw. Use a “clean-cut” blade designed for wood and let the saw do the work. The cuts will be ready for your project assembly.

Make the Supports

Step 1

Cut the legs (A), long stretcher (B), short stretcher (C), and top supports (D) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Then, without reducing the overall length, cut 30-degree bevels at the tops of the legs (Project Diagram, Drawing 1).

Step 2

Arrange the legs (A) on your workbench in two pairs with the tips of two 30-degree bevels coming to points. Clamp the pairs together with the bottom ends even. This ensures you’ll drill the right- and left-hand legs with the countersinks on the outside leg surfaces (Project Diagram, Drawing 1).

Step 3

Drill countersunk holes for the stretcher screws.

Using a square, mark lines across all four legs (A) for the stretcher-screw and pivot-bolt holes (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Then make centered marks on the lines for each leg. Drill the countersunk stretcher-screw holes.

Good to Know

Place scrap blocks under the hole locations to eliminate chip-out and protect your work surface.

Step 4

Drill holes for the machine screws.

To align properly and prevent binding, the pivot-bolt holes must be drilled straight. When drilling these holes, position a block of wood with a 90-degree corner as close as possible to the bit to provide a visual reference.

Step 5

Drill holes for the screws.

Glue and clamp each stretcher (B, C) between a pair of legs (A), centered on the countersunk screw holes (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). When clamping this assembly, add a second scrap board the same length as the stretcher to balance the clamping pressure and make the assembly more stable. Using the countersunk holes as guides, drill pilot holes into the stretchers and drive the flathead wood screws.

Step 6

Drill countersunk holes in the top supports (D) (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). The holes are 1/2 inch from the ends of the support for the leg assembly with the long stretcher (B) and 1-1/2 inches from the ends of the support for the leg assembly with the short stretcher (C).

Step 7

Secure the top to the leg

Place the leg assembly (A,B) on the bench atop 1/4-inch-thick spacers. Apply glue and position the top support (D) for the long-stretcher (B) assembly on the beveled ends of the legs (A) with the inside edge of the support aligned with the end of the bevel on the short edge and the ends of the support and the outside faces of the legs even. Using the countersunk holes in the support as guide, drill pilot holes into the ends of the legs and screw the support to the legs.

Step 8

Secure to tops to the leg with spacers

Place the second leg assembly (A,C) on the bench so it rests on 1/4-inch spacers. Apply glue and position the top support (D) for the short-stretcher (C) assembly on the beveled ends of the legs (A) as before, but with the ends of the support inset with a 3/4-inch-thick spacer from the ends. Using the countersunk holes in the support as guide, drill pilot holes into the ends of the legs and screw the support to the legs.

Assemble and Finish the Stand

Step 1

Bolt the leg assemblies.

Insert the narrow-leg assembly between the legs of the wide-leg assembly and align the pivot-bolt holes. Connect the leg assemblies with machine screws, flat washers, and wing nuts (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Test the stand to make sure it folds and unfolds without binding.

Good to Know

If the screws bind, the holes are not drilled properly, you can adjust the existing holes by drilling a new hole -- clamp the assemblies with the holes aligned the best you can, then drill a new hole using the existing holes as a guide.

Step 2

Remove the wing nuts, washers, and bolts. Spray-paint the leg assemblies (Valspar Secluded Garden shown). After the paint dries overnight, reassemble the stand.

Step 3

Turn the stand upside down on your workbench. With the top supports (D) just far enough apart to rest flat on the bench top, tighten the wing nuts to lock the stand in this position. Using hot glue, fasten the end of a 10-foot-long piece of sisal rope to the top support at the inside of one leg of the wide-leg assembly. Let the glue cool.

Step 4

Loop the rope around the top supports (D), bridging them with six evenly spaced strands and arriving at the inside of the leg on the wide leg assembly opposite the one where you started (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).

Step 5

Secure rope to top of stand.

Take excess slack out of each bridging strand -- being careful not to pull the leg assemblies together -- and evenly distribute the strand loops across the length of the top supports (D). Hot-glue the rope loops only to the wide leg assembly top support. Glue the free end of the rope to the support at the inside of the leg. When the glue cools, trim the excess rope and add a galvanized staple to lock the ends of the rope in position.

Step 6

On each leg, glue the end of an 8-foot-long piece of rope to the inside face 1 inch from the bottom (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Let the glue cool. Make 18 tight coils around the leg and glue the rope to the inside face of the leg after the final coil. When the glue cools, trim the excess rope.

Create a Serving Tray

Step 1

Drill 1/4-inch holes for handles on the sides of a water heater drain pan. Pairs of holes should be 5 inches apart and centered on the height of the pan.

Step 2

Prime and spray-paint the drain pan following the paint label directions (Leafy Rise shown).

Step 3

Cut two 18-inch-long pieces of rope for the handles. Seal the ends with hot glue to keep them from unraveling.

Step 4

Put this tray and folding stand to work as a serving station, grilling supplies holder, or table. --Lowe’s Creative Ideas

When the paint is dry, tie a knot on one end of an 18-inch length rope, and slip the other end through one of the handle holes. Push the rope through the second handle hole and tie a second knot. Adjust the loop size so it’s comfortable, then trim away the extra material. Repeat on the other side of the tray.

Find more ideas for serving trays and carts: