Picture of Work/Play TV Tray

The humble TV tray, staple of TV-watching households everywhere, gets a makeover for the 21st century.

This project was born when I was using my laptop while watching TV with my wife one afternoon and realized that I didn't have an easy place to stash my precious computer while I ate.

A few sketches and some research later, I had a nice little folding TV tray/portable workstation that stashes easily between a couch and the wall, or underneath (depending on how tall your furniture is.)

The dimensions for this project are basically parametric, meaning that they can be tweaked for individual needs pretty easily—I've illustrated in the photos how I went about getting the final measurements while working on the projects.

I hope you enjoy this project, it was fun to make and is an incredibly useful little piece.

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Step 1: Materials & Tools, Dimensions

Picture of Materials & Tools, Dimensions

This project started out as three pieces of wood and some fasteners.


Poplar, 36"x7"x3/8" thick for the legs

Poplar, 72"x7"x5/8" thick for the sides and back

Birch Ply, 14"x18"x3/8" thick for the top and shelf

2x 1/4-20 Buttonhead bolts, 1.25" long

2x 1/4-20 Button Head Socket Cap bolts, 1.5" long

4x 1" fender washers

8x 1/4-20 washers

(optional) length of dowel rod, 0.5" dia.


Drill Press

Table Saw

File or Rasp


Hand Drill

Square-drive bit

Drill Index


Wood Glue

Dead-blow Hammer

Pin Nailer or Hammer and nails

amandaghassaei11 months ago
Nice! I need something like this for when I'm sitting in bed working on the computer
craftclarity (author)  amandaghassaei11 months ago

Thanks! Glad you like it. Looks like I should be making a second version of this with shorter legs....good call

You could use the short version for laying down in bed
domenic36 months ago

love the design

sunshiine11 months ago

What a beautiful TV tray. If I modified this I would make a pull out bottom shelf but, when a person is altering a great design it could change a lot of quality things. This is a grand idea and the TV tray looks so classy! Voted and faved! Thanks for sharing your hard work and do have a splendorous day!


craftclarity (author)  sunshiine11 months ago

Thanks for your comment!
I had thought about having the tray slide out when I was building it, but I realized that it would require that I add drawer glides to it (these are the metal pieces with ball bearings that drawers typically ride on). I may still go in and build a little drawer for it, that would be pretty easy and would definitely be a worthwhile addition.
Part of the reason I cut the handle out of the shelf was so that you could carry it vertically and still have stuff inside of it (this is sort of pictured in the photo of it leaned against the chair, folded-up). This might be a challenge if the drawer slid out... :)

I did not notice the handle until you brought it to my attention. Yes, I understand about the sliders. I just did not know if adding the pull out would create functional problems when you fold the tray for storage. This is another one that got my vote!

Have a great day!


mreamer11 months ago

Nice.......why not make the bottom shelf slide in and out?

craftclarity (author)  mreamer11 months ago

Because then you wouldn't be able to use the handle on the shelf to carry it....I also wanted to keep it as simple as possible so that other people could build on it. Would you like to post an "I Made It!"?

MerlinTheGreat11 months ago

Nice tray table.

You could even make a side flap which you can put up if one prefers using a mouse or just to extend the working/desk space. The flap should be made so that it can be locked in both positions, up and down, so it doesn't 'flap' around when carrying the tray table.

Heck you could even add a flap to both sides to have an extra large working space.

XmasOlive11 months ago

LUV this! I especially love the shelf part!

craftclarity (author)  XmasOlive11 months ago

Well shoot, I'll just have to make YOU one then...huh? :)

It looks so professional! Great job!