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


New Life for Old Table Legs!



This is something that isn’t exactly woodworking-rocket-science… but I love to see how things change during the process of “re-finishing.” Any furniture re-finishing snob would lament over the imperfection of the job that we did on these table legs. However, to the average eye, the transformation is pretty remarkable – and the end result is much prettier than old brown paint! See what I mean??



In this picture you can see the legs (which are oak, in case you’re wondering) after sanding/stripping, and then re-stained. What a difference! How did we do that?

Step one: I applied a liquid stripper very carefully, outdoors, wearing gloves and using a disposable foam brush. It was just BARELY warm enough outside to do this and it bubbled up the paint a little, but not nearly as much as I was hoping for. After it was completely dry, I moved to

Step two: Sanding it down (using a palm sander) with 50 or 80 grit sandpaper (the really rough stuff!). This will bring the wood back to it’s bare, naked original state. The hardest part is getting in the grooves on these handles – and you really have to do those by hand if you want perfect results. For this project, I didn’t do to those kind of lengths. It’s up to you.

Step three: Re-stain! For these legs I chose a nice brown stain (Minwax, “Early American”) and put it on liberally. Let it sit for about 10 minutes if you want the color really dark and rich. The longer stain sits, the darker it becomes. After those minutes are up, wipe off the excess and admire the wood grain!!

It’s amazing how stain can bring out all the beautiful little details in the wood ~ like nothing else can. Check it out!!




You might be thinking now, “Hey, that looks familiar…” and you’d be right. After this process, these table legs became the handles on my barn wood tool caddy! Now THAT’s what I call re-purposing. Something old into something new … yeah, you get the point.

Have you done any re-finishing projects?


~ The Woodworker’s Wife

DIY Repurposed , UPcycled frames into chalkboards!




I rescued these from Goodwill on a rainy day for $7.99 per frame. They were dirty, dingy, missing the glass inside, and well, not something I would hang on my wall … but I saw some potential! What if they were chalkboards? What if they were white frames with distressed colors peeking through?

So I took out the rusty little nails and the old dingy “artwork” and sanded down the frames a bit. After wiping off the gross nasty dirt that came off … I painted them each a different color – one with “Pistachio Mint,” {Americana Acrylic Paints} and the other “Bimini Blue,” {Apple Barrel Acrylic Paints}. After that was dry, I coated them with basic white acrylic paint, lightly brushing over the high points of the frame. As you can see, the details on these old frames really lend themselves to distressing! 🙂

Using 120 grit sand paper, I took it in my hand and just lightly sanded over the surface of the frame, the edges… as you can see, what’s left is some of the gold peeking through (original paint), and the colors are left in the grooves. So pretty!! I finished with a clear, water-based poly so that it would be dry in a mere two hours (and not smell so bad). I LOVE the results.







See the pretty teal peeking through? I love how it brings out the beauty of the wooden frame!

If you’ve read my post on making chalkboards, you know how seriously I take the chalkboard-painting process. 🙂 In case you missed it, go read it now! You’ll love making these things!! 🙂  We used 1/4″ mdf for these chalkboards, cut to fit the frame (about 10″x13″). I used a fine foam roller to keep the texture on the chalkboards nice and smooth and even. Mdf is a dream to paint! Just make sure to finish the back so that it’s water proof. I used Rustoleum weatherproof paint on the back to keep all my hard work safe.

So… here you have it — my BEFORE and AFTER.




Keep hunting the thrift stores for wonderful finds like these!! Have you re-purposed anything lately?


~ The Woodworker’s Wife


{None of the products in this post were sponsored or influenced my opinion in any way. Just sharing what I use and what works!}

Reclaimed {barn} wood caddy

I am proud to say that these are the first project I have made by myself! Mr. Woodworking could have done these in his sleep… but I am a bit proud of myself for figuring out measurements, using the miter saw, etc. I’m also very pleased with how this entire project was made out of reclaimed lumber! Southern Yellow Pine and Cottonwood, respectively. Two different barns, two different towns, re-made into something for our home. Merry Christmas to me!

The character of the wood is what makes these unique -  this is reclaimed cottonwood from a 100-year-old corn crib... reborn!

The character of the wood is what makes these unique – this is reclaimed cottonwood from a 100-year-old corn crib… reborn!

Southern Yellow Pine has a beautiful grain. This caddy is sturdy, a bit on the heavy side, but so gorgeous.

Southern Yellow Pine has a beautiful grain. This caddy is sturdy, a bit on the heavy side, but so gorgeous!

My little brother came over last week to work on some awesome wood projects for Christmas. Music blaring, good company to work with … and then these just sort of happened. I was scrolling through my Pinterest board for some inspiration and I found this.

Honestly, I like mine better than hers. The reasons are simple: I prefer to have the joinery flush and square. Hers are more rustic in their construction. I also left the real beauty of the wood to show through (nail holes and all!) and I think it lends charm and authenticity to the finished project. What can I say? I think wood-grain is sexy. The handles are antique table legs that we rescued out of Grandma’s basement.

Not bad for an evening of work... reclaimed, reborn barn wood ready for a new life in our home!

I think one of these will be my new gardening companion next Spring…

~ The Woodworker’s Wife