Bathtub Caddy




About: I've worked for Instructables off and on since 2006 building and documenting just about everything I enjoy doing. I am now the Creative Programs founder and manager for Autodesk and just finished building o...

As avid bath takers, we quickly discovered that we needed two DIY solutions to improve our baths.  First, a tub caddy capable of providing a simple surface upon which we could place drinks, valuables, and some decorations to enjoy while we soak.  Second, a back support that covers the water spout for when there are two in the tub.  The first person has the normal position in the tub, but the second person always gets the annoying spout right in the middle of their back - unacceptable!  

I haven't gotten around to making the second project just yet, but here's the first...hope it inspires better bathing.

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Step 1: Joint an Edge

This bathtub caddy is made from from walnut.  Get some 4/4 walnut boards and start by jointing the straighter/truer narrow edge.  

My jointer is a little under-powered, so we had to make sure to advance slowly and remove only small amounts of material with each pass.

Step 2: Trim on Table Saw

Place the jointed edge against the table saw fence and rip the board to width creating two parallel sides.  We cut our board down to around 5 or 6" wide.

Step 3: Plane Two Faces

This board was a little too wide for my old jointer to joint a face before planning, so we just went straight to the planer and planed both faces.  It was planed at the mill and really wasn't in too bad a shape.  Run it through, flip, and repeat.  Comes out good enough for this casual project.

Step 4: Trim to Length

Trim the boards to length on the chop saw.  We cut the long board down into two shorter sections that are going to be biscuit joined together to make the caddy wider then the original board.

The length of the tub caddy depends on your bathtub and should be sized to fit it precisely.  Measure the tub and add a few extra inches if you want it to overhang the outer lip.

Step 5: Cut Biscuit Slots

To join the two boards together we used a biscuit joiner.  The biscuit joiner cuts slots in the side of the wood for glue and the wooden biscuits which hold the boards together permanently and precisely in place.

Step 6: Glue Boards With Biscuits

Brush some wood glue into the slots and onto the edges about to be joined.  Fill the slots with wood biscuits, clamp the boards and let the glue dry.

Step 7: Make Walnut Molding

While the glue was drying we set off to make some simple walnut quarter round molding.  Slice a 5/8" x 5/8" strip of walnut off of the remaining board from the lumber yard and run it through the router with a round over bit.  

Since the piece was small I used feather boards to hold it in place while I slid the stock through. 

Step 8: Cut Molding

Mark the molding length right on the main board for the tub caddy.  We used a miter saw and set the fence at 45 degrees to cut the miters.  A miter box would also work just fine.  

I used a scrap piece of MDF to create a zero clearance fence to support the cuts in order to minimize tear-out.

Cut the walnut quarter round molding to the proper lengths to create a border for the tub caddy.

Step 9: Fit in Place, Glue and Nail

Fit the molding place on top of the now dry main board for the caddy.  If everything lines up apply some wood glue to the back of the molding.  Lay it down on top of the board and carefully line up the miters.  I used a brad nailer to shoot some brads in place while the glue dried.

Step 10: Add in Candle Holder

Once the outer molding was on, we still had some extra walnut quarter round material left.  We decided to make a small box in the corner of the caddy to hold things like candle wax, a wine glass, or perhaps a flower vase in place.  Cut two short sections of quarter round with a single mitered end, and position, glue, and finally brad nail the corner piece in place.

Step 11: Sand

Sand the entire caddy with 120 and then 220 grit sand paper.  I used a random orbital sander, but it's small enough to do by hand.  Some of the detail areas need to be hand sanded.

Step 12: Fit for Your Tub

Some kind of basic system is necessary to hold the wood in place on the tub so it doesn't slip around and fall in.  We measured the interior width of our tub and installed a very simply cleat system that locks the caddy in place securely. 

The process went something like this: measure from the wall to interior left side of the tub.  Measure the distance between the two sides of the tub, inside measurement.  Finally, measure the width of the exterior tub wall on the right side.  Mark these measurements onto the tub caddy and glue walnut cleats onto the bottom of the main board at these locations for a total of 3 cleats. 

In theory, you only need the two right cleats which grab the exterior wall of the tub, however, the left cleat is nice because it locks everything in place tightly.

Step 13: Varnish

Since the walnut is going to be used in a water-y environment, we sealed everything with two coats of a water based spar varnish urethane from Varathane.  It goes on a little milky but dries with a nice satin clear finish.  Very easy stuff to work with.  

Once the varnish is dry the project is done.

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    20 Discussions


    7 weeks ago

    Love it. I'll have to work out how to add a book/kindle stand for it!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Oups! my iPhone in the bath !


    5 years ago on Introduction

    С такими инструментами не доску в ванную делать...


    5 years ago

    Thanks for the instructable! I showed my fiancé and was told I'd be on the couch if she didn't have one. Made one today with a couple modifications. Made the two cleats be trough tenons just to add a bit of character.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Beautiful. I will bookmark this page as a hint to my husband

    Bill WW

    6 years ago on Introduction

    I like it. But have to ask a nerdy question: do you like having a jointer? I just true the board edges on my table saw.

    2 replies
    noahwBill WW

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    That's not a nerdy question :)

    The theory my dad taught me is, the table saw cuts a parallel line to an already straight line that you put against the fence. How do you true the first edge that rides against your table saw fence? That's primarily what the jointer is for.

    Similarly, the planer cuts a parallel line to an already straight face that's riding on the bottom of the planer bed. How do you true the first face that rides against the planer bottom? That's also what the jointer is for.

    Lumber sometimes comes with 1 edge or 1 face already jointed, but sometimes it's just completely raw, and when it's like that, you need the jointer.

    To be more specific to my current situation, I do like having a jointer, but not the underpowered used jointer that I currently have. I'd say it's necessary to get at least an 8" jointer (many of them are 6"), and surely one that has a strong motor and runs on 220V.

    Bill WWnoahw

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks much for the good info.
    Main issue is that I'm maxed out on available space in my corner of garage shop.

    125 Instructables, wow! I like your scrap wood cutting board, may do something like that also.

    Dear Noahw,

    That's excellent.
    It's exactly what I use for my four hour baths with books and food and tea, ( well mine is just an old shelf.)

    It's good to find out that I'm not alone.

    Kind Regards 


    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is really good stuff here. Any particular reason you chose walnut? I was thinking there may be an advantage as opposed to maple, oak, or teak.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    No particular woodworking reason. Just like the warmth and ease of walnut. Teak would be ideal due to it's water resistant natural properties but was too expensive for this application.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Good thing I'm waterproof so I can use something like this. Love it!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Ooo... What a racy Instructables! I can't wait to see the next part.

    noahwMarcaine Art

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Ooo...that'd be awesome. All sorts of fun things come to mind, place to play board games, books for stargazing for night soaks, full bar perhaps, chilled lemon water, aromatherapy, meditation gong, the list goes on... Do it!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I absolutely have to have one. Thanks to you, I have a project for the new year.