DIY Stencil Serving Tray

I’ve wanted to make one of these trays since Christmas but life kept getting in the way until I decided to drop everything and just do it.

I was inspired when a blogger friend put this awesome message on her bedroom wall. I thought to myself, I need to do more of that, especially laugh…

Since I decided 2017 was going to be focused on bird raising it seemed fitting to incorporate a cute little bird stencil.  This project came together with scrap wood but let me wrap it together so you can make your own just as easily with new wood.

Serving Tray Supplies

  • One 6 or 8 ft. cedar fence board
  • two handles (Hobby Lobby has some fun one)
  • Stencils of your choice (The birds came from Michaels)
  • Chalk paint and probably stain
  • Rag and Stencil Brush
  • Saw, Drill and Hammer
  • Sand Paper and electric sander
  • 12 finishing nails and 4 screws for the handles

Prepping the Wood

Cutting the wood to shape was the first step.  The two main boards were a little over 2 ft. and the two cross pieces that hold everything together were almost a foot.

Once the wood is cut sand each one by hand then finished the larger boards with the electric sander.  I wanted a real smooth surface and the electric sander moved at a faster pace.

Always sand with the grain of the wood and if you get off track just make sure that last surface run makes up for it.

Checking Things out

This is what the wood looked like after I sanded; it was really tempting to just leave it as is but I had a plan and wanted to follow through.

After lining everything up the wood fit perfectly so it was time to add details.

Finishing the Boards and Adding Details

  • I added another coat of dark walnut stain to the smaller boards.
  • Then I used my paint staining technique on the large boards; that can be found here.
  • Stenciling was next, how to stencil can be found here.

Things kind of fell apart with my letter stencils at first; I purchased new letters that had adhesive. They were pretty neat but the spacing was all off and at first that font just didn’t feel right.

I kept going and at the end was very disappointed, sometimes a project just doesn’t work out, or do they?

I flipped the boards and tried again, this time I used some inexpensive letter stencils purchased months ago from Walmart.

The bold appearance seemed to work and after everything dried it was time to assemble the tray.

Adding Finishing Nails

Use three finishing nails on each side board towards the end; make sure everything is lined up straight before connecting. I would also recommend drilling pilot holes prior to inserting nails.

I mention pilot holes a lot in my projects, it’s a hole added by using a smaller drill bit to keep the wood from splitting during assembly.

Once everything was connected on the front I flipped the board and did the same thing on the back.  The goal is to make sure you’re connecting to the darker boards.

At this point I was getting pretty excited because I was imaging how useful this tray will be in the future.  It’s just a fun simple thing but it makes me smile.

Add the Handles

The final step was to add handles with screws.  This is easy just make sure they’re equal distance before connecting.

These handles came from Hobby Lobby and I just love them.

The Finished Tray

When I was finished then turned the tray around and decided I almost liked the back as much as the front because the boards were flipped and it just kind of looked neat.

I’m going to leave the tray as is to remind myself that sometimes mistakes are really neat surprises later.  Now it’s time to go enjoy a little afternoon treat.

Remember to add a little live laugh and love to your day…


Make an easy to build Serving Tray and stencil with your favorte message. #ServingTray, #ScrapWood, #LiveLaughLove


  1. Patti says:

    I love it ! What a great tray. I need to make one of these!! We like to entertain often. Mostly family but that can easily be 20 people and a tray like would come in super handy. I could also see it for breakfast in bed. 🙂

    1. Carole says:

      Okay I was completely thinking breakfast in bed but wasn’t sure if I should say that in the post. LOL – Just a fun little thing with a little personality. Thanks for inspiring me because I just love those three words.

  2. Karen says:

    This is such a great project, Carole, and another fantastic tutorial. I love the stained look you achieve with paint and think the back looks really fun the way you left it. What a creative way to “cover” a mistake.

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you Karen – Staining with paint is pretty sweet and when I flipped those boards I didn’t even think about them not being aligned. So it was a goof that surprised me in a good way. Going to enjoy this tray especially after we move.

  3. I love this!!!
    Thanks for sharing at Simple Homestead Hop!

  4. Cecilia says:

    That turned out great! As for the first try, sometimes you just never know until you do it. Thank goodness for two sides lol. I agree about the pilot holes- I can’t tell you how many times I’d be in a hurry and skip that step much to my dismay. It’s worth it! Love your pretty tray. It’s going to be very useful!

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you, it was really a hit and miss with those new letters but I was curious how they would work. I’m thinking with all the money I’ve spent on stencils this past year I should just get me one of those cricuts.

  5. Jemma says:

    What a fantastic rustic and refined stenciled serving tray.
    You are off to a great start with your New Year projects!
    Great tutorial…you just have the best way of sharing information.

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you – this is intended for the next chapter but I think this weekend it will be used to serve root beer and popcorn for two.

  6. Jane says:

    Hi Carole, I love how your serving tray turned out. The little birdies are so cute and we all need the reminder…live, laugh, love! I’m pinning for later…you’ve inspired me to make one!

    1. Carole says:

      I’m loving this little tray thinking something like this would be fantastic in the garden too.

  7. Amy says:

    These serving trays are darling and look like they are relatively simple to make. Thank you for sharing on Your Inspired Design Link Party.

  8. Jamie Marie says:

    Adorable tray! Great Blog post! Thank you so much for sharing your crafting expertise with us on the Homesteader Hop!

    1. Carole says:

      You’re welcome Jamie – this was such a fun project you should give it a try.

  9. Tracy Lynn says:

    Hi Carole,

    Thanks for the Christmas gift idea. I am making 4 for all my sisters-in-law! Some will be painted and some will be stained. We just took down some old cabinets so I already have the handles. 🙂
    Tracy Lynn

    1. Carole says:

      That’s awesome and wow you’re getting a head start on christmas gifts. Like that!!

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