How to Make a Lap Tray


This DIY lap tray can double as a functional and decorative storage solution for your home year-round.

Make this lap tray using reclaimed wood and cabinet pulls for handles.
(Image by Tim & Mary Vidra)
  • Wood board
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Sandpaper or palm sander (optional)
  • Radial saw (optional)
  • Wood stabilizer (optional)
  • Cabinet pulls & hardware
  • Screwdriver

Making the tray is a matter of choosing wood style, size, finish and handles — all of which can be determined by your unique tastes. Whatever wood you decide on, your local hardware store will most likely make any measured cuts you want for a nominal fee if you don’t have access to a saw at home.

We used a reclaimed board, which can be found at a salvage yard, or new at the hardware store.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

If cutting at home, use a radial saw to make a 21” x 11” rectangle, which is a good size for a full plate and other breakfast essentials.

Radial saws are good tools for quick, long and straight cuts.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Once cut to desired size, upgrade the finish by first sanding each of the sides, edges and surfaces with a palm sander.

Skip ahead to the hardware installation steps if you're happy with the original wood finish.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

After sanding, brush a generous coat of wood stabilizer over the entire board. Wood stabilizer not only brings out the rich tones of the wood grain without lacquer, but it also prevents wood from checking, cracking and warping and will also rejuvenate old, dry wood.

Brush wood stabilizer along the grain of the wood.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Allow the wood stabilizer to soak into the wood and dry fully according to package instructions. While the difference is slight, you can see how the wood stabilizer treated board compares to the untouched board, bringing out the natural wood grain.

This before and after shows the difference between treated and non-treated wood.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Once the stabilizer dries completely, install the cabinet pulls on either end of the tray with a 1/2-inch overhang.

Oil-rubbed bronze modern cabinet pulls give off a rustic vibe that pairs well with a rustic board.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

If using cabinet pulls that screw seamlessly into each end of the bar, measure their placement on the underside of the tray first. Trace around each bar end where the screws will go. Drill holes through the board with a drill bit large enough to push the screws that came with the cabinet pulls tightly through the board, then screw each pull securely into place using a screwdriver.

Measure and screw seamless handle screws from the underside of the board.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Once the handles are fixed into place, the tray is ready for use.

The cabinet pulls act as handles on the finished tray.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

If using as a breakfast tray, decorate with a few surprises like fresh strawberries, flowers and a handwritten note to complement a favorite meal.

Easily bring breakfast upstairs to bed.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

Take advantage of this tray's versatility by using it as a coffee table or ottoman tray. It could even double as a lap tray for your laptop while lounging about.

Stack magazines on the tray to help your organize coffee table.
Image by Tim & Mary Vidra

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