DIY tray

DIY tray

This is what I was cookin up this weekend. And by cooking up I mean creating. This lovely tray is something I have thought of for a while. Not any specifics on look and style, but the idea of a tray that I could use a laptop on in bed. Or prop up my ipad and watch movies was very appealing. My study and computer are smack dab in the middle of the house. And if I or my husband is trying to do some work in the middle of the day, we have these three little people who may or may not (ever) leave us alone. So to have some quiet in our room is needed. But the idea of resting the laptop on our lap is not ideal. So this was my idea.


I have seen many different examples of DIY tables on Pinterest and Google images. I saw things from one I liked, others I did not, some I like but wanted to tweak so I did just that. I put together an idea in my mind of the look and supplies I wanted and needed to this tray to work for me and my function.

I started by looking through our wood that is forever piled in the garage. We had two shelves that were leftover when we bought the house. They were hung over the windows in the dining room. We took them down and they have been in a heap of wood since. They are pine, sturdy and beveled edge. Great for a desk surface.

We hooked up these babies into the miter saw and cut away. The two pieces together measure 42 inches long, and 14 inches wide. It was simple and easy. We then took a portion of a 2×4 and cut it the width of the two wood pieces. This was for the purpose of connecting the wood pieces together by screwing them into the 2×4, on the underside of the tray.
I chose a Rust-Oleum Winter Gray. I know gray, I use gray a lot. But here, let me make my case before I get thrown in the gray obsessed jail cell, where I assume it is painted every color but gray as punishment. I considered a few colors. But I want this tray to look like it belongs in any room in my home, since depending on the need for it; it will be moving around the house. So the tray needed to be neutral. I considered just staining it, but decided against it. With using the galvanized pipes this is rustic enough, with wood stain I worried it would be to tough. So gray. But I went with a darker gray. So hey, there is that. I might add a line of yellow or something. Not sure yet. I can always change the color. But gray it was.
And now, time for the obligatory repeat of instructions on spray painting. For those who follow me I have said this so many times. But for any newbies, welcome and I hope you find this helpful. I always spray paint the same way. Taking slow swipes from one side to the other.


Don’t try to lay it on too thick or too close to the surface. If you do either one it will run and give some drips. I did three coats to get it fully covered. There is still a few spots where I could have laid it on thicker, but a slight rough look fits this project.

Next step was paint the galvanized pipes we purchased. I selected 1/2 inch diameter pipes for the handles and legs. I thought this was the perfect size to have it be big and statement enough. But not to overwhelm the tray. Also making sure the handles did not take up too much work space. This is a functional tray first and foremost. I needed my elbow room. The legs of the tray are 8 inch long.
This was the only picture I took of the galvanized pipes. Somehow I took none of me spray painting them, it was the same process as the wood piece. Before spray painting we had to sand them down. There was a sticker and tape from the store that left adhesive to the pipes, and also the oil on them would make it difficult to make sure the spray paint stayed on. Once the pipes were roughed up it was time to spray paint them, I used Rust-Oleum textured black. I sprayed one side, waited for them to dry and then turned them over. To insure I covered the full pipe. I did one coat on all sides and then just turned it over to see if there was any spots missing paint. One coat was more then enough for them.

While those were drying we went to work connecting the two wood boards together. By using a drill we (my husband)  drilled in 4 holes on each 2×4. Drilled the hole slightly so that when screwing in the screw it became easier. And it guaranteed that the wood would not split while drilling in.
all ready for the screws

Once the holes were done it was as simple as screwing in the screws. The 2×4’s were placed about 2 inches in on the bottom side of the boards. These 2×4’s did a few jobs, they connected the two boards together. They also allow the handles and the legs to be screwed into it.

So, since I explained what these 2×4’s are for it was time to put them to use. We placed the handles in a place I felt would be helpful in carrying the tray but allowing space for a laptop and a pad of paper. And possibly a late night snack… maybe.
The legs were selected with the length so that I could shimmy my legs under it, but it would be comfortable to type with my laptop on it. That height was 8 inches. Que the awkward moment when I sat on the floor in the home improvement store with a mock tray height. But it got the job done, we found the perfect height. And got a few weird glances at the same time. Hey, nothing going on here. Just using galvanized pipes for a DIY tray, normal home improvement store stuff. Ignore me on the floor and my kids singing loudly along to the music at the store. As you were.

There was a decision to be made with the legs. Did I want to put on a circular base versus a cap on the bottom of the legs. I could make the bottom to match the top portion that was screwed to the 2×4 or put a cap on. I decided to go with a cap. I thought it was a subtle feature. Change the visual up a little.


I thought it was done after this, then while showering. Getting the paint and grime off of me and ready for my photo shoot to Vana White it up with this tray I had an idea to wrap twine on the handles. As most people do in the shower. I got out, hurriedly dressed because I was worried the twine I was going to use would disappear from the cabinet in our kitchen. Like it was going somewhere or something. You know it is a good idea when you are rushing to get it done before the option falls away from you or something. It has to be done NOW! I wanted to add twine to the handle, circling it around the handle for some added detail.
And yes, before you ask that is bananas in the background. For some reason this portion of the project happened on the kitchen counter. No idea why. The tray was brought in from the garage and set here. This is a DIY house and ANY surface will be used. I wove the twine around the interior portions of the handle then used a hot glue gun to connect the ends to the pipe.


This is what the handle looked like without the twine. I liked how it seemed to soften up the industrial tray a little bit more with the twine. I now need more twine because I used almost all of my remaining twine. But it was well worth it.

And then, I was really done. I am so excited. It turned out so much prettier then I was thinking. This was my first time working with galvanized pipe. I was not sure if it would come off bulky or too industrial. But I think the overall look worked wonderfully.




I love that the wood grain is still seen.


So happy I took that shower and did some deep thinking. I love the last minute addition of the twine.
The shower, where twine thinking gets done.


All ready for work, and yes I will always have a vase of flowers on the tray if you are wondering.




“Oh hello very none staged photo op. I always sit straight and proper when lounging
around.  Full make up too. Totally”


This tray is not heavy, you don’t need these massive guns Dale is packing to carry it. But imagine instead of a lap top your man is carrying a wonderful and delicious breakfast to you one Saturday morning. Yes, this tray can be used for that too. I am sure that scenario is a common occurrence in your home… right?

This can also be used as a tray for kids to use. If one is working at the desk or the art table taking up the remaining space and they can pop this bad boy up on the bench to use. They loved it and were super eager to give it a try. And yes it is already broken in with a red mark from the lovely marker Gavin used for this photo op.

What?! this tray can be used to watch and use a Tablet too? This tray is beyond versatile. I should put this on TV with a fake salesperson voice. I can do it. “So versatile, tablet holder, laptop table, portable work table, and a nifty breakfast in bed table. So many uses in all one piece. Amazing. And limited supply, hurry!” See I got this!

I can bring my little models along to display this. They are cute, kids can sell anything.

 And now for a overload of detail pictures…











TV salesperson voice back “And wonder what to do with it when not in use?” Stares eagerly with crazy eyes into the camera…. “Use it as a coffee table or foot stool until you need it as a work tray, yes, so versatile!”




I don’t know if I will keep it here in this spot as a coffee table when not in use. But I sat it there while taking pictures and thought it worked. So I shopped my house to set it up with accessories and snapped a few pictures. Seriously though, this is a fairly large piece and when not using it, it will take up some space. Setting it in a corner, a closet, under a window is an option too. Hide it or display it until use, really either work. I have been currently typing away on my laptop while on the couch using this tray. It works wonderfully. We had a long day or DIYing and then my nieces birthday party. I was not looking to sit at a desk and make this post. So I cozied up with a blanket and Teddy at my feet, that was the way to go tonight.
I hope you found this tutorial helpful. I was inspired to do this by some DIY trays I saw online, and made something that worked for me from all of the inspiration I saw. I hope you do the same, if you see something you like do it! If it turned out bad, scrap the wood, have a bonfire with it. Roast some marshmallows with the bonfire and laugh about that one time you made that thing and it turned out horribly. Or you do it amazingly and love the outcome. Give it a try!
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  1. very nice. very cool look and I love that you reused the boards and did not just go buy all new stuff. Also thanks for the steps they are very helpful and nice. Some other people just show the finished product.

  2. Very nice and you do need the guns. Oh and love that you have your blog on the screen in one of the shots.

  3. What a nice, multi-functional tray. Love how the kids were using it too! Breakfast in bed is a must soon 🙂

  4. omg, LOVE that table..and the very last picture of you and the pup is adorable!!!! Christine from Little Brags

  5. thank you! Teddy is my buddy, when the house is quiet at night that is our usual sitting area on the couch.

  6. Now that is a quality solid made tray … turned coffee table! Look how much use you can have out of it, often trays are not stable at all but this one looks like you could sit on it and it wouldnt move! Great job, and I really like the rope around the handles too they suit the style perfectly 🙂

    • thank you so much! It is very sturdy, I caught my 6 year old daughter walking on it today. Told her to get off and she dismounted off of it onto a bench. It was super sturdy still. Thank you so much for visiting!

  7. Great job. I love that you made it big enough to use as a small table on the ground too. Would love if you came and shared this on the Merry Monday Linky Party.

  8. wow incredibly useful! The go anywhere, use for anything tray 🙂 Love it! Thanks for partying with us!

  9. I always enjoy linking up at Snickerdoodle Sunday!

  10. LOVE this and I could definitely use a nice tray for when I want to work in bed, plus I have extra flanges and pipe fittings 🙂 Thanks for sharing at The Makers!

  11. This is so fabulous! And you have a beautiful home and sweet family. I'm loving your style! And visiting from Cozy little house! Hugs, Diane

  12. We are featuring your awesome project tomorrow at Your Designs This Time!
    Emily & Erin

  13. Thanks so much for sharing this at Knick of Time – come to the party tonight, to find out how you can join my "pinning team" to promote all of your repurposed projects & tutorials! I shared this project on my Facebook page here –

  14. Thanks for joining us at The Wednesday Roundup! You've been featured this week! Come on by and grab a button to display on your page. Also, having been featured I've pinned this to our link party board! Have a great day!

  15. Great DIY home improvement tips! This site and Houselogic have been great places to visit on the web when it comes to home maintenance!

  16. This is the coolest thing I have ever seen! I found your blog from the creativity unleashed link party. Pinned and following! Here is my blog if you want to stop by!

  17. I love this industrial style that is so popular right now. Your tray is amazing! And how perfect for the kiddos to be able to use it too. Pinning!
    Glenna @ My Paper Craze

  18. That seems like it could be a fun little home maintenance project to appease the wifey!

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