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Home > Projects & DIY Toolkit > How-To Articles > Making a Serving Tray

Making a Serving Tray

Make a stylish statement at your next cookout or holiday party with a personalized serving tray. All you need are a few common tools and some inexpensive lumber. The tray's decoration can be as simple or as detailed as you want. You may even want to make several, so you have one for each holiday or season. Use our dimensions or customize them to suit your particular needs. Lowe's is happy to provide this information as a service to you.

Tools & Materials


  • Circular saw
  • Drill/driver with bits
  • Mitre saw (optional)
  • Router (optional)
  • Clamps
  • Tape measure
  • Combination square
  • Sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Dust mask
  • Goggles
  • Hearing protection


  • 1x4 lumber
  • 1/4" faced plywood
  • Wood glue
  • 3d finish nails
  • Handles
  • Wood putty
  • Finish material of your choice

Cut list

Part Material Length Quantity
Side pieces 1x4 20 1/2" 2

Rip the pieces to 2" wide.

Part Material Length Quantity
End pieces 1x4 14 1/2" 2

Rip the pieces to 2" wide.

Part Material Length Quantity
Bottom (floating panel) 1/4" faced plywood See note 1

It is best to cut the bottom to size after the side pieces have been dry fitted to the end pieces.

Mill the Side and End Pieces

  1. Rout or cut a 1/2" deep by 1/4" wide dado on one face of each side and end piece. The bottom of the dado should be 1/2" from the nearest edge of the piece. The dadoed faces will be the inside of the tray.
  2. Mitre the end pieces so they are 14" long on their outside faces.
  3. Mitre the side pieces so they are 20" long on their outside faces.
  4. Centre a handle 1/2" down from the top edge of one of the end pieces and mark the end piece for the handle screws. Bore holes through the end piece to receive the screws. Use the first end piece as a template to bore holes in the second one.

Make the dado 1/2" from the bottom edge of the board.


Mitred end and side pieces.

Good idea: Bore countersink holes on the inside of the end pieces to hide the screw heads.

Assemble the Tray

  1. Square and dry fit the pieces together. Measure for and cut the bottom panel.
    • To find the panel length, measure from the inside face of one end piece to the inside face of the other and add 3/4".
    • To find the panel width, measure from the inside face of one side piece to the inside face of the other and add 3/4".
    • Since the dadoes are 1/2" deep, adding 3/4" to each dimension gives the panel room to float while ensuring that it cannot slip out of the dadoes after the pieces are assembled.
  2. With the panel set in the dadoes, glue and nail the side and end pieces together. Use a combination square to square the assembly. Use clamps to hold the tray square while the glue dries.
  3. After the glue has cured, attach the handles. Fill all holes and imperfections with wood putty. Sand the entire tray.
  4. Paint or stain the tray to suit your taste. For a more decorative touch, stencil the tray to match your décor or to make several trays with seasonal or holiday themes. Just be sure to protect your artwork with a suitable clear topcoat.
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Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please visit our terms of use.

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