A Tray is a Tray? One Style, Three Ways

Well, two styles. Anyway, the point is that I want to show you how one simple tray “style” can become three totally different things when finished! Trays can be a blank canvas (of wood) and be completely personalized. We like to build our trays … (and both of these are our designs!) but you could just as easily transform one that you purchased at the craft store (if you HAVE to …). 🙂 🙂

This first one is just for fun .. I had some reclaimed cedar fence boards left over from making a panel (for a friend) and the scraps were just the right size for a “serving” tray. I used quotations there because, let’s be honest – you can’t actually serve anything on a tray without sides. This tray is just for the table top – just for pretty things that you find make you smile when you walk by. Including, but not limited to, Mason jars, flowers, candles, shiny objects of any size … you get the idea. 🙂 barnwood tray 15barnwood tray close up

This tray is SO PRETTY, and it was a custom order we did for Christmas last year. The monogram really makes this classy and personal at the same time. I’m contemplating adding one to the tray above, as well … maybe for a wedding gift? The Red distressed look is very classic, in a way, and easy to achieve using three coats of a good quality paint, a hard sanding, and then a coat of stain (apply and wipe off) on the top. For extra durability, you should finish it with a coat of poly (over the monogram as well). Quintero Tray

And this one’s for the Huskers. Obviously. One coat of Minwax “Early American” stain, paint the logo, then finish with three coats of water-based poly. I used Matte finish poly on this one just because it’s a more rustic style overall. We have cut the handles instead of installing them on the sides, they are rounded off with the router too for a more comfortable grip. Perfectly practical with sides and everything. Perfect. husker serving tray ruler tray 2015I’ve saved the best for last. This one is the exact same build as the two above! Look how different it looks! 🙂 I simply left the body of the tray natural (it’s reclaimed cedar again, just with the age planed off of it) and used an assortment of antique rulers to fill the bottom. I stained a few of them dark to add color variation. They were simply cut and glued down with (gel) super glue. I weighted them down for a few hours afterwards to help the glue set and keep things in place. LOVE how it turned out.

One basic tray can be so many beautiful things, and so practical, too. 🙂 🙂

~ The Woodworker’s Wife


A Little Bit of Husker Curb Appeal …

Husker Football is kind of a big deal around here. Okay, that was an understatement: it’s part of our identity. We’ve made a lot of different (adorable) doorhangers, but these two are my personal favorites. Why? There’s just something about chevron and Huskers, right?

A touch more subtle in grey chevron, the message is still clear: Forever a Husker!

Both of these designs were dictated by the customer – and both of them are beautiful! I painted them with your standard acrylic craft paint, then sealed both sides with three coats of matte spray sealer. Just in case you can’t protect them with a storm door, the sealer keeps the moisture out (and the wood underneath from warping!).  The finishing touch is a simple knotted twine hanger. Rustic perfection. 🙂

Red chevron screams "Huskers!" and we added the perfect bit of silver sparkle on top.

The Manly-Man’s workbench, part II (and tips on using epoxy!)

And now for part II! Here are the pictures I promised of the finished workbench top. Please excuse the glare in the photo. It’s rather unsightly but it does give you a clue as to the glass-like finish of the epoxy.

After spending hours painting a custom design on top of this workbench, we then had to answer the question: “How are we going to protect this?” The answer is epoxy.  We picked up a box of mix-when-ready epoxy at Menards, and decided to experiment. The results are gorgeous. It really is easy to use. I DO have a few tips to share if you decide to finish a table top this way…

1. Seal the surface BEFORE  you epoxy (if you’re covering something porous, like wood) otherwise you’ll have bubbles galore in your finish. Not cool. I used Mod Podge to seal the whole top before we applied the epoxy and it worked like a charm. You can see that final result is crystal clear.

2. Cover the floor – the epoxy is self-leveling, which means it pours off the edges of whatever you’re working on. Cardboard is easy to pick up and throw away and keeps it from soaking through and leaving a permanent glob.

3. Use a square of cardboard to spread it out. It’s not rocket science – any household thing (that’s disposable) will work – you just need to persuade the epoxy all over the surface to ensure good coverage.

4. Hover a gas blow-torch over the surface to remove the bubbles from the epoxy before/as it dries. This sounds crazy but it works.


2013-11-05 14.06.22edit

Here you have it! After months of use it still looks great.

workbench cropped

                                                       In case you were curious, here’s the base. Simple 2 x 4 construction, waiting for us to complete a few                                                            drawers and shelves for storage. I’m contemplating painting the base in a durable black gloss … 🙂

 As a final note, if you decide to wipe it clean, something gentle like vinegar and dawn dish soap will do the trick. Spills like wood glue (even hot glue) should scrape right off.  We are very happy with the results.

Good luck on your next project!

~ The Woodworker’s Wife

A Manly-Man’s Custom Workbench – a work in progress…

I thought I would share something else we’re working on – a sort of ongoing project. It started when we moved into our new little house in the city… there is a nice room in the basement for a workshop, but the work bench down there was a disaster. Too high, too deep to reach the back, poorly made, and fitted with an electrical strip that was, well, not safe. We decided to demo that baby and start from scratch.

After leafing through many many woodworking books, we came up with a size that was a bit more practical. That, and I got talked into doing a custom paint job on the top. 🙂 What guy doesn’t need some manly details in his wood shop? Right?


Please forgive the poor photo quality… but you can see the custom design coming to life. On the left, a tribute to the Fire Department, and on the right, THE HUSKERS.  The top is 1/2″ plywood and then face stripped with pine. You can’t tell in this photo, but he did a great job on the mitered corners.  The finished size of the top is 24″ x 44″. We built a simple base out of 2 x 4 lumber that ends up being standard working-height, 36″. Drawers and cubby holes have yet to be completed.

So how do you protect a custom painted design against all the workshop abuse? Stay tuned.

~ The Woodworker’s Wife