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DIY Modern Wood Tray Using Scrap Plywood

I love this tray and was able to make it for FREE using wood from our scrap wood pile! Learn how to make your own modern wood tray and add a great piece of modern decor to your home.

Image of modern wood tray with text overlay "DIY wood tray modern home decor made using scrap wood"

I love taking scrap wood leftover from previous projects and turning it into beautiful modern home decor. We had a piece of plywood left over from a project and I knew it would be the perfect piece to use to make a modern wood tray.

Trays are great for using when you have guests, they make a great place to display a modern vignette of home decor, or even as a centerpiece on your dining table or coffee table.

Trays like this retail for about $45, so I knew I could make my own version for a lot less money.

3 modern trays
Image credit: West Elm

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How to Make a Modern Wood Tray


Step-by-step Tutorial

The first thing I did was draw circles on the plywood. I only wanted my circles to be about an inch different in size because I’m going to putting them on top of each other to recreate that modern wood tray look (that would leave a 1/2″ border all the way around).

I used a few simple things I found around my craft supplies and shop to trace circles onto the plywood, including that wooden hoop, and the plastic bin in the background below. The circles I drew were 11.5″ for the outside circle, and 10.5″ for the inside circle.

So one circle was just an outside circle for the base, and the other one was the outside and inside circle drawn on to create a ring.

drawing circle on scrap piece of plywood

I decided to use our scroll saw to cut the circles because I thought that would give me the best shape, but you could use a jig saw if you don’t have one.

First I drilled starter holes on the inner edge of the hoop circle so that I would be able to insert the saw blade from the scroll saw. Be sure that your saw blade is nice and sharp to get the best possible cut (ask me how I know this).

Also, if you don’t have a lot of experience using a scroll saw or a jigsaw, don’t get discouraged. You may just have to do a little extra sanding. Take your time and go slow to get the best result.

Using a scroll saw to cut circles for modern wood tray

I cut the inside circle first and then moved to the outside circle. Since my inside edge was not perfectly circular, I used the oscillating sander we have before I glued everything up.

The outside edges weren’t perfect either, but I tried and even out the edges and make it as smooth as possible before gluing.

Once I was done sanding, I glued and clamped everything together with wood glue and let it dry overnight.

plywood circles glued and clamped together

The next day I moved over to our belt sander and sanded all the outside edges and made it as smooth as possible. You can use sandpaper or another type of sander, it may just take longer to get it nice and smooth.

sanding edges of plywood circles

Finishing Your Modern Wood Tray

I wanted the inside surface of the tray to have a nice natural wood look and have the wood grain shine through. I used a natural colored stain to stain the inside and then once the stain was dry I protected it with multiple coats of polycrylic.

Cans of stain and polycrylic

To get the modern look I was going for, I decided to paint the rim and the outside of the tray black. I used frog tape to tape along the edges of the wood base.

To get around the circle, I just ripped small pieces of tape and stuck them down one at a time until I went all the way around the tray. After that, painting the tray rim black was super easy.

modern wood tray with frog tape on inside for painting

I used exterior paint just to make sure it was well protected from drinks or anything else that would be on the modern wood tray.

Here’s how the modern wood tray looks. I’m so happy with how it turned out!

Modern wood tray with drink decanter and 2 glasses

I’m not so happy with my scroll saw skills, they definitely need some work. The black paint really hides any imperfections.

close up of the side of modern wood tray and glasses
Modern wood tray with drink decanter and 2 glasses

How to Make a Modern Wood Tray Video

Watch me make this modern wood tray and my circlet stands in the video below. These two projects are part of my Scraps Made Modern Series.

Looking for more Modern Scrap Wood Project Inspiration? I’ve gathered up a ton of my favourite scrap wood projects for you!

Scrap wood image with text overlay reading 50 amazing scrap wood projects