There’s something about a herringbone pattern that just makes me fall in love with an item. It’s such a simple pattern to create, but it makes a piece feel so custom and full of character!
Since it’s so simple, I try to incorporate it into a lot of different DIYs. In fact, if you want to see another take on a herringbone, check out our DIY herringbone coffee table. It’s technically not a true herringbone pattern, but it’s just as fun!
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Let’s start DIYing!
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What You’ll Need
How to Make a Wooden Serving Tray
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Step 1: Cut your wood
Cut your plywood down to size. We cut ours to be approximately 20″x16″.
Cut 4 of your 3/8″ pine boards in half at a 45-degree angle. It doesn’t have to be perfect–we just cut them in half so that we could have enough boards to fill the tray. Then cut your remaining board into 3 or 4 pieces.
If you would prefer to just cut your pieces to the correct size on the first go-around, check out this video that explains how to figure out the size of each piece.
Personally, we like cutting them a little longer because there is less of a chance of having an uneven edge in the end. Plus, you can keep the scraps and turn them into an art piece!
Step 2: sand
Sand your pine boards and the bottom side of your plywood using 120-220 grit sand paper.
You want to get the bulk of the sanding done prior to putting the boards together so that you can avoid scratching the neighboring boards which occurs by sanding against the grain.
Note: if you have a random orbital sander, you don’t need to worry about sanding against the grain, but it’s important to keep in mind when hand sanding or using another type of sander.
STEP 3: make the herringbone pattern
Mark the center of your plywood with a pencil.
Arrange the pine boards on top of the plywood to create the herringbone pattern. One side of the zigzag should line up with the centerline you drew in step 4. When placing your boards, try to mix up the wood grains and colors.
Step 4: glue the boards down
Once you have finalized your pattern, move the boards off of the plywood. Keep them in the same order so that you know which boards go where.
Working from top to bottom, add glue to the plywood and then place the pine boards on top of the glue. The glue will make the pine boards slide easily, so try to place the pattern quickly.
Once all of the pine boards are in place, place something heavy on top of them while the glue dries. Since the pine boards slide easily, carefully place the heavy object on the boards from directly above.
step 5: cut the excess
Once the glue is dry, it’s time to break out the circular saw. Set your tray down with the pattern face down so that you can see the plywood. Tape along the sides of the plywood to help reduce splintering and to give yourself a clear line to follow with the circular saw.
For extra control, you can set a guide up by clamping a 1×2 on top of the plywood. The 1×2 will help you keep a straighter line when cutting.
OR you can use the Kreg Circular Saw Guide. We invested in one a few months ago and I can’t say enough good things about it. You don’t have to clamp it, it gives you great control over your circular saw, and it helps reduce splintering.
Cut the excess pine boards off so that they are lined up with the edge of the plywood.
To reduce splintering even further, slowly cut through your wood. The faster you cut, the more splintering that occurs.
Step 6: cut the sides
Cut your 1x2s at a 45-degree bevel angle using your miter saw. To get the measurements, we place the boards along the tray and mark where they should be cut with a pencil rather than figuring out a specified measurement.
Test your cuts and adjust if needed.
Mark where you want your handles to be and drill holes for the handle hardware. Make sure that you drill the holes above where the bottom of the tray will be. You’ll need enough space to screw the handles in!
step 7: sand and stain
Sand your 1x2s using 120-220 grit sandpaper.
Stain all of your boards. We used Minwax Special Walnut and wiped it on and immediately off again using a towel.
P.S. Check out our full guide on how to stain wood.
Step 8: Assemble the tray
Once your stain is dry, glue and nail the 1x2s to the sides of the tray. Clamp your boards in place while the glue dries.
step 9: caulk
Caulk where the bottom of the tray meets the edges. Make sure to grab caulk that dries clear!
Step 10: Seal
Seal with the sealer of your choice. For this project, we chose Deft Clear Wood Finish Spray.
Step 11: Install handles
There you have it! A beautiful herringbone serving tray that is sure to impress your friends! In fact, it’s an incredible gift to DIY for anyone!