Pallet Wood Serving Tray




Introduction: Pallet Wood Serving Tray

About: Techie by trade, but hobbyist woodworker and metal fabricator to the core. I document my projects on my youtube channel.

In our living room, we have a large ottoman that also serves as our coffee table or a place we would put our drinks while enjoying a movie. The problem with an ottoman is: the top isn't very stable and isn't ideal to hold drinks and other potentially messy food items. That's why I decided to build this serving tray. The surface of the serving tray is made out of glued together pallet wood. I think it turned out rather nice. I hope you enjoy the write up.

Here is the link to the video of this build:

Step 1: Prepping Pallet Wood and Gluing the Pallet Wood

I used a jointer to smooth out all the surfaces of the pallet wood. This was for 2 reasons:

1) I am going to glue the boards together, so I needed a nice clean surface to join together

2) Because I wanted this tray to look very refined, i wanted all the boards the same thickness to make the surface seamless after the glue up.

After prepping the surfaces, I cut each board to the same length of 14" (note i measured out the exact size I wanted for this project based on the size of my ottoman, in my case the the overall dimensions are 24"x15")

Then, I took time to plan how I wanted to arrange the boards together then did a simple glue up of the boards.

I used Tightbond as the glue in this project.

Step 2: Post Glue Wood Finishing

After the glue dried, I chiseled off the excess glue and then belt sanded the surface smooth. I took my time on this step as belt sanders are notorious for removing material very quickly. Ideally, I would have used a surface planer, but i do not own one.

After belt sanding, I used an orbital sander with 220 grit to get the surface very smooth.

Step 3: Attaching the Sides and Cutting Slot

The sides of the serving tray are made of 1/2" in thick x 2 1/2" poplar wood I got from my local Homedepot.

I cut all the pieces to length then measured out where I was going to put the hand slot for the serving tray. I measured to find the middle, then determined how long I wanted to slot of be. Once the measurements were done, I used a 1" hole saw to drill the ends of the slot. I continued to use that hole saw to remove most of the material of the hand slot and use a chisel to remove the rest. I then used a file to remove the final bit of material and also smooth out the handle.

Attaching the sides of the tray was very simple, I used glue and brad nail gun to attach it to the pallet wood. I added clamps at the end and waited 24 hours for the glue to dry.

Step 4: Finishing the Serving Tray

After the glue dried, I put wood putty in the holes created by the brad nailer. After the putty dried, I sanded the surface smooth.


I then taped off the pallet wood surface on both sides as I did not want to get paint on this. Then, I used Rustoleum paint with primer and gave 2 generous coats of white paint to all surfaces that were not taped off.

Sealing the wood

As mentioned above, I wanted a nice durable, waterproof finish for the surface of this serving tray. I ended up creating my own wipe-on polyurthane. It is basically a mixture of polyurthane and mineral spirits. I was shooting for a 4 part poly to 1 part mineral spirit ratio, but didn't do any measuring so at best I was close.

I applied 2 coats of my diy wipe on poly to the bottom, and 2 coats to the top. Then I used pure polyurthane to finish the top surface.

I love how the finish gave the wood lots of character.

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    5 years ago

    This is gorgeous! I definitely want to try this.

    Perhaps this is a dumb question, but will the Rustoleum paint and polyurthane finish help protect against issues with that can come with reclaimed wood?


    Reply 5 years ago

    Just to be clear, the Rustoleum paint finished the poplar wood outside (which is not reclaimed wood). As far as protecting against issue with reclaimed wood, can you be more specific? The polyurthane was put on to seal the wood and protect it from water and other liquids that would come in contact to the surface.


    5 years ago

    Beautiful work :)


    Reply 5 years ago

    thank you! looking forward to contributing more content.