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DIY Tray Using Scrap Wood and Dollar Store Napkins

DIY Wood Tray

I had a few folks ask for a tutorial on the napkin/mod podge technique I showed in the last post.

Your wish is my command.

It really is very, very easy and when I’m done explaining you will shout:

“Honey!  Come quick!  David has found yet another way to glue stuff to wood!!!!!”

It’s a gift.

The supplies are simple. Here is what I used:DIY Tray with Dollare Store Napkins, Scrap Wood and Mod Podge


  • Scrap Wood
  • Napkins from the Dollar Store
  • Matte Mod Podge (the pic shows Furniture Matte but the original MP Matte formula is just fine)
  • Hard Coat Mod Podge
  • Wood Stain

Not Pictured

  • Wood Glue (needed only if you’re making this particular tray)
  • Clamps (see above parenthetical thought)
  • Orbital Sander with 220 grit sandpaper (you could do it by hand if you don’t have the orbital)

First up I just stained the top edges and sides of my scrap wood and, once dry, gave them a light sanding to smooth things out just a bit.  A certain amount of roughness is fine – even preferable – so don’t get too aggressive with the sanding.

While the stain was drying I separated the napkin layers (mine were 2-ply) – you want the thinnest possible version of your napkin.Mod Podge with NapkinsAfter trimming the napkin to fit the width of the board I laid down some Mod Podge and smoothed the napkin into place. Wrinkles are inevitable here and that’s fine – they just add to the final look in my opinion.Dollar Store Napkins and Mod PodgeOnce the Mod Podge had really, thoroughly dried I went back in with my sander set at a fairly low speed.

I went over the edges, using the sander to cut away any overhanging napkinDistressed Trayand then, using very little pressure went over the whole thing sanding until I got the look I liked.

The sanding will take away the edges and sand off a bit of the top of any wrinkle which gives a nice texture.  It also allows just a bit of the wood grain to show through.

For this tray project I then used wood glue and clamps to connect the boards together*DIY simple tray with scrap wood and dollar store napkins

Once the glue had dried I went over the surface with a couple of coats of Hard Coat Mod Podge for durability and with the addition of some handles I was done.DIY Tray Tutorial

*Since there is no structure supporting the boards this is what you would call a “light duty” tray. For a sturdier version I would some kind of support on the bottom – either a backer made out of some thin sheet wood or perhaps just strips of wood screwed in place to give it a bit more strength.

You can see in this close up how a lot of the underlying stain gets sanded away but what remains leaves a cool looking, sorta burned edge where the napkin meets the wood.  You can also see how any wrinkles get sanded down a bit and add to the texture.Mod Podge Napkins onto wood

Further Thoughts:

In looking at the pics I think it might look good to extend the napkins over the sides of the outer edges just for a more completed look.

The only downside of this iteration is that while the wood strips are long and rectangular the napkins are square so there is some overlapping of the graphic.  I either need to make smaller trays or find really huge napkins.

Using tissue paper rather than napkins would be a good work-around for the above issue.

And there you have it!  Stuff!  Glued to Wood!




About cheltenhamroad

I’ve been surrounded by amazingly creative people my whole life. My mom can, and does, make anything. The family has on occasion speculated that she just whipped up my dad one day when she discovered some left over fabric and stuffing. My three sisters have mad skills ranging from needlework to cooking to out and out ART. My father’s desk when I was growing up had a model train set going around it, oh, and he made that desk-from scratch. I’m the youngest and, as you can imagine, it’s a hard series of acts to follow. Truth be told, I’ve spent many, many years suppressing the creative instincts I learned at home. But I realized (rather late in life) that few things bring me more joy than making and creating. For the longest time when I went to stores I didn’t think, “I want that” I thought, “I can make that.” And, with a deep breath and a leap, I’ve started on a very new, kinda scary path. I’ve given up my steady, dependable (dull!) corporate life to spend my days happily humming away in my garage designing, creating, painting, decoupaging and sawing and, since this blog will be an honest take on things, there is also a fair amount of tripping, spilling and swearing. Through this blog I hope to share with you the struggles and (hopefully) triumphs of a very non-businessy business person. I also hope to make this blog a resource for people who like to work with their hands and who are, like me, always looking at things and thinking “I could make that!” I’ve lived many places since I left Cheltenham Road; I currently live in Los Angeles California. So, with this preamble- Welcome to Cheltenham Road! Please come on over and make yourself comfortable – the place is always open.

4 responses »

  1. if you put felt on the bottom (to prevent scratches), this would look beautiful on a dresser or vanity (makeup vanity, not bathroom sink–too much water exposure) to hold makeup, perfume, or decorative bottles/treasures in cottage style decor


  2. I like the idea of using just one of the slats with the key hooks you were using the other day. I never thought that dollar store napkins could look so good. But you knew! David, you rock!

  3. chris aka monkey

    love love love it thanks xx

  4. You, dear David, have a style all your own!


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