Skip to Content

DIY Wooden Tray: A thrift Flip

Transform a thrifted wooden box into a stylish DIY wooden tray with our step-by-step guide. Create high end decor for only a few dollars!

DIY Wooden Tray with Walnut for elegant storage

In the world of home decor and organization, there’s something undeniably appealing about handmade pieces that combine functionality with aesthetic appeal. One such project that captures this essence is crafting a DIY walnut tray (even if it’s not real walnut!).

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through the process of creating your own stylish and practical tray, perfect for keeping keys, mail, and other essentials organized in your entryway or any other space in your home.

There’s also a more feminine version of a tabletop organizer – Industial Chic Desk Organizer that you can create for yourself or your partners!

How to Make a DIY Wooden Tray from a Thrifted Box


Must have supplies:

Step 1: Preparation

Begin by selecting a wooden box from a thrift store. Look for one with solid construction and interesting details, such as dovetail joints, that will add character to your finished tray.

Wooden box from the thrift store for DIY Wooden Tray with Walnut upcycle

Step 2: Design Planning

Consider how you want to repurpose the box into a tray. In our project, we aimed to create a catch-all tray for the entryway, perfect for holding mail, keys, and other small items. Sketch out your design ideas, taking into account any modifications you’ll need to make to the box’s original structure.

The lid of our box was pretty beat up, and not really useful, so we added that to the scrap wood pile, and planned to cut down the rest of the box to only an inch tall, to maintain the modern/minimal aesthetic we love so much.

Old wooden box before look of the DIY Wooden Tray with Walnut

Step 3: Disassembly and Modification

Carefully disassemble the box, removing any unnecessary components. In our case, we trimmed down the box and added rounded edges using a router table to give it a sleek profile. Take your time with this step to ensure precise cuts and smooth edges.

The rounded edges aren’t necessary, but they are the details that take this DIY from looking like a thrifted box, to looking like a custom build!

See how we used the router table and rounded the edges in the video linked below.

Step 4: Sanding

Once I’ve made the necessary modifications, thoroughly sand the wooden pieces to smooth out any rough edges and prepare the surface for staining or painting. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and gradually work your way up to a finer grit for a polished finish.

Sanding the wooden pieces to smooth out any rough edges of the DIY wooden tray

Step 5: Assembly

Reassemble the wooden pieces according to your design plan, using wood glue and screws to secure them in place. Pay attention to detail to ensure a sturdy and well-constructed tray that will withstand daily use.

Step 6: Staining and Painting

Apply a coat of dark walnut stain to the wooden tray, using a paintbrush to evenly coat the surface. Allow the stain to dry completely before applying a coat of primer to ensure good adhesion of the paint.

It looks like a DIY walnut tray, without the heavy price tag of real walnut – unless you were lucky enough to thrift a walnut piece!

Step 7: Final Touches

Once the primer has dried, apply a coat of black paint to the inside of the tray, using smooth, even strokes for a professional finish. If desired, add additional coats of paint for full coverage.

Applying a coat of black paint to the tray for

Step 8: Finishing

After the paint has dried, inspect the tray for any imperfections or rough spots. Use wood filler to fill in any gaps or holes, then sand the surface once more to smooth out any remaining roughness, and re-paint or re-stain as needed.

Step 9: Enjoy Your Handcrafted Tray

Once your DIY wooden tray is complete, place it in your desired location and admire your handiwork. Use it to keep your entryway organized or as a stylish accent piece in any room of your home. Enjoy the satisfaction of creating something beautiful and functional with your own two hands.

Crafting a DIY wooden tray with walnut is a rewarding project that allows you to exercise your creativity while adding a touch of handmade charm to your home decor. By following these step-by-step instructions, you can create a stylish and practical tray that will serve you well for years to come. So roll up your sleeves, gather your materials, and let’s get crafting!

Want more additional storage for your home Check out this  DIY Bathroom Stool with hidden bath toy storage!

DIY Thrift Flips Video

Watch the video below to see all of our tips for your own thrifted box makeover, and see what we turned that old magazine rack into!

Join our community of makers and let’s turn ordinary into extraordinary, one project at a time! Be sure to to subscribe to our channel for more DIYs, tips and renovations!