How to Make Wooden TV Trays: A Beginner's Guide

Are you looking for a fun and practical woodworking project? Look no further than building your own wooden TV trays! These versatile trays are perfect for meals, drinks, or even as a laptop stand. Plus, making them yourself allows you to customize the size, shape, and style to fit your specific needs and preferences.

To get started, you’ll need to choose the type of wood you want to use. Pine is a great option for beginners, as it is easy to work with and relatively inexpensive. You’ll also need to decide on the size of your tray. While a standard TV tray is typically 18 inches wide and 12 inches deep, you can adjust the dimensions to fit your space and needs.

Once you have your materials and measurements, it’s time to start building! With some basic woodworking tools and techniques, you can create a set of beautiful and functional TV trays that will last for years to come. So why not give it a try? Your family and guests will love having their own custom TV trays, and you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of creating something with your own two hands.

Understanding the Basics of Woodworking

Woodworking is a fun and rewarding hobby that allows you to create beautiful and functional objects out of wood. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced woodworker, it’s important to understand the basics of woodworking before you start your next project.

Types of Wood

One of the most important things to consider when woodworking is the type of wood you’ll use for your project. Different types of wood have different properties and characteristics, which can affect how they’re cut, shaped, and finished.

Here are some common types of wood used in woodworking:

Type of Wood Characteristics
Pine Soft, lightweight, easy to work with
Oak Hard, durable, popular for furniture
Maple Hard, dense, good for carving and turning
Cherry Hard, fine-grained, reddish-brown color
Walnut Hard, durable, dark brown color

When choosing wood for your project, consider factors such as the wood’s strength, hardness, and grain pattern. It’s also important to consider the cost and availability of the wood you choose.

Safety Measures in Woodworking

Woodworking can be a safe and enjoyable hobby, but it’s important to take proper safety measures to prevent accidents and injuries. Here are some basic safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Always wear eye and ear protection when using power tools.
  • Use sharp tools and blades to reduce the risk of kickback and other accidents.
  • Keep your work area clean and free of clutter to prevent tripping hazards.
  • Never work with wood that has knots, cracks, or other defects that could cause it to split or break.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using power tools and equipment.

By following these basic safety tips, you can help ensure that your woodworking projects are safe and enjoyable for years to come.

Gathering Your Materials

Before you can start building your wooden TV trays, you need to gather all the necessary materials. This section will guide you through the materials you need to build your TV trays.


The first thing you need to consider is the type of wood you want to use for your TV trays. Pine is a great choice for beginners because it is easy to work with and relatively inexpensive. However, if you want a more durable and long-lasting tray, you may want to consider using oak or maple.

When purchasing your wood, you will need to decide on the thickness you want. A standard TV tray is typically around ¾ inch thick, but you can adjust this to your preference. You will also need to decide on the size of your tray, which is typically around 18 inches wide and 12 inches deep.

Tools and Equipment

To build your TV trays, you will need a few basic tools and equipment. Here is a list of what you will need:

  • Table saw or radial arm saw
  • Router with a corner rounding bit and a laminate trimming bit
  • Bandsaw or sabre saw
  • Drill
  • Chisel for scraping
  • Screwdrivers (straight and offset straight)
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • Hardwood dowels
  • Aluminum bar stock
  • Brass woodscrews
  • Wood and sheet metal screws
  • Varnish or shellac

It’s important to have the right tools and equipment to make the job easier and ensure that your TV trays turn out as expected. If you don’t have all of the tools listed, you may be able to rent them from a local hardware store or borrow them from a friend.

Now that you have gathered all the necessary materials, you are ready to start building your wooden TV trays.

Designing Your Wooden TV Tray

When it comes to designing your wooden TV tray, there are a few key factors to consider. This section will cover the dimensions, style, and aesthetics of your TV tray.


The first thing to consider when designing your wooden TV tray is the dimensions. While a standard TV tray is typically 18 inches wide and 12 inches deep, you can adjust the measurements to suit your needs. Consider the size of your television and the height of your seating arrangement when deciding on the dimensions of your tray.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider the height of your tray. A good rule of thumb is to make the height of your tray equal to the height of your armrests. This will ensure that your tray is at a comfortable height for eating or working.

Style and Aesthetics

The style and aesthetics of your wooden TV tray are also important to consider. You’ll want to choose a style that complements the decor of your room. Consider the color, texture, and finish of your tray when making your design choices.

One popular option for wooden TV trays is to use pallet wood. This can give your tray a rustic, vintage look that is very trendy right now. Another option is to use hardwoods like oak or maple for a more classic, traditional look.

When it comes to the finish of your tray, you can choose from a variety of options. A clear coat of varnish or shellac will give your tray a natural, glossy finish. Alternatively, you can use a stain or paint to add color and texture to your tray.

Overall, the key to designing a wooden TV tray is to consider both form and function. Choose dimensions that are comfortable and practical, and select a style and finish that complements your room’s decor.

Preparing the Wood

Before you can start building your wooden TV trays, you need to prepare the wood. This involves cutting the wood to the appropriate size and sanding it to make it smooth and free of any rough edges. Here’s what you need to do:

Cutting the Wood

The first step is to cut the wood to the size you want. A standard TV tray is typically 18 inches wide and 12 inches deep, but you can adjust the size to fit your needs. To cut the wood, you’ll need a saw. A table saw or a radial arm saw works best, but you can also use a circular saw or a hand saw if that’s all you have.

When cutting the wood, make sure to measure twice and cut once. You don’t want to make any mistakes and end up with uneven pieces. If you’re not sure how to use a saw, ask someone for help or watch some tutorials online.

Sanding the Wood

Once you’ve cut the wood to size, the next step is to sand it. Sanding the wood will make it smooth and free of any rough edges. To sand the wood, you’ll need sandpaper. You can use a sanding block or an electric sander if you have one.

Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and work your way up to a finer grit. This will ensure that the wood is smooth and free of any imperfections. Make sure to sand the edges of the wood as well to remove any splinters.

After sanding the wood, wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove any dust. Your wood is now ready to be assembled into TV trays.

Assembling the TV Tray

Once you have cut and sanded all the pieces needed for your TV tray, it’s time to start assembling them. In this section, we’ll cover the two main steps of assembling your TV tray: joining the pieces and securing the tray top.

Joining the Pieces

The first step in assembling your TV tray is to join the legs to the side pieces. You can use a variety of methods to join these pieces, including pocket screws, dowels, or biscuits. No matter which method you choose, be sure to clamp the pieces together tightly while the glue dries to ensure a strong joint.

Next, attach the support pieces to the legs. These pieces will help keep the legs stable and prevent wobbling. Again, use clamps to hold the pieces together while the glue dries.

Securing the Tray Top

Once the legs and supports are attached, it’s time to add the tray top. Place the tray top on the supports and center it so that there is an equal amount of overhang on all sides. Use clamps to hold the tray top in place while you attach it to the supports.

To attach the tray top, you can use screws, nails, or even dowels. Be sure to pre-drill any holes to prevent splitting the wood. You can also add corner braces to the underside of the tray top for added stability.

With the tray top attached, your TV tray is almost complete. Finish the tray with a coat of stain or paint to protect the wood and give it a polished look.

Remember to take your time and work carefully when assembling your TV tray. With the right tools and techniques, you can create a beautiful and functional piece of furniture that will last for years to come.

Finishing Touches

Once you have completed the construction of your wooden TV tray, it’s time to add the finishing touches. This will not only enhance the appearance of your tray but also protect it from everyday wear and tear. In this section, we will cover two sub-sections: Applying the Finish and Adding Additional Features.

Applying the Finish

Before applying the finish, it’s important to sand the tray to ensure a smooth surface. You can use a sandpaper with a grit of 220 or higher. Once the sanding is complete, you can apply the finish of your choice. There are several options available, such as oil-based finishes, water-based finishes, and lacquer finishes. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits your needs.

When applying the finish, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. You can use a brush, roller, or spray gun to apply the finish. Make sure to apply it in thin, even coats and allow each coat to dry completely before applying the next one. You may need to sand lightly between coats to ensure a smooth finish.

Adding Additional Features

If you want to add some extra features to your TV tray, there are several options available. You can add a cup holder to keep your drink secure while you watch TV. You can also add a storage compartment to keep your remote control, magazines, or other items within reach. Another option is to add a non-slip surface to prevent items from sliding off the tray.

To add a cup holder or storage compartment, you can cut a hole in the tray and insert a cup holder or storage container. Make sure to sand the edges of the hole to ensure a smooth finish. You can also add a non-slip surface by attaching rubber feet or using a non-slip mat.

In conclusion, adding the finishing touches to your wooden TV tray is essential to enhance its appearance and protect it from everyday wear and tear. By following the instructions carefully, you can apply the finish of your choice and add additional features to make your tray more functional.

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