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Display Tray Centerpiece

On a table in your dining room or one on your deck, this cedar tray showcases plants, candles, or decorative display items.

Candleholder tray centerpiece.

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 day

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Miter saw or handsaw or Dremel SawMax, #521303
  • Drill
  • 7/64-in bit, countersink
  • Tape measure
  • Square
  • 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper or Dremel 7-piece oscillating tool kit, #571430
  • Wood glue
  • Stainable wood putty


  • 2 - 1 x 2 x 96 red cedar boards
  • 1 x 8 x 96 cedar board
  • 1-1/2-in wire brads
  • #8 x 1-1/2-in stainless-steel or coated deck screws
  • Play sand, 50-pound bag, #10392
  • Olympic Maximum Semi-Transparent Exterior Stain, quart, Cedar Naturaltone

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


Step 1

Cut the base (A) from a 1 x 8 cedar board. From a 1 x 2 cedar board, cut the sides (B) 36 inches long. Then cut oversize ends (C) about 1 inches long.

Good to Know

If your cedar boards have one smooth face and one rough face, build the tray with the rough face of the base (A) on the underside. The same will be true for the five top slats (D) you’ll cut later. Place the rough faces of the sides and ends facing the inside of the tray.

Step 2

Measure the end piece length.

Glue and nail the sides to the base with the ends flush. Then hold an oversize end piece (C) with one end flush with the outside face of a side. Mark the length of the end and cut to size. Repeat for the other end piece.

Step 3

Glue and nail the ends to the base and sides. Fill the nail holes with putty and sand the ends and sides with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper.

Step 4

Cut five slats (D) to length and sand them with 120-grit and 180-grit sandpaper. Drill centered, countersunk 7/64-inch pilot holes on the top face of each slat 1-1/8 inch from the ends. From the remaining 1 x 2, cut a piece about 12 inches long as a guide.

Step 5

Attach the slats to the tray.

Measure and mark the top edges of each side (B) 18 inches from one end. Lay the 12-inch guide along the outside face of a side, then center the first slat on the center marks with the aid of a square. The end of the slat should be flush with the outside face of the guide to create a 3/4-inch overhang on both sides. Extend the pilot holes into the tray sides, and drive stainless-steel or coated deck screws to hold the slat in place.

Good to Know

If you prefer to build the tray without screws, glue and nail the slats in place the same as the tray sides and ends.

Step 6

Repeat for the remaining four slats spaced 1/4 inch apart.

Step 7

Apply the stain of your choice (Cedar shown). After the stain dries, fill the tray with play sand about 1/4 inch deep throughout. Then add plants, vases, or candles.