How to Make a Lap Tray

Tim and Mary Vidra

This DIY lap tray can double as a functional and decorative storage solution for your home year-round.

Make this lap tray using reclaimed wood and cabinet pulls for handles.

Things You'll Need:

  • Wood board
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Sandpaper or palm sander (optional)
  • Radial saw (optional)
  • Wood stabilizer (optional)
  • Cabinet pulls & hardware
  • Screwdriver

Step One

We used a reclaimed board, which can be found at a salvage yard, or new at the hardware store.

Making the tray is a matter of choosing wood style, size, finish and handles — all of which can be determined by your unique tastes. Whatever wood you decide on, your local hardware store will most likely make any measured cuts you want for a nominal fee if you don’t have access to a saw at home.

Step Two

Radial saws are good tools for quick, long and straight cuts.

If cutting at home, use a radial saw to make a 21” x 11” rectangle, which is a good size for a full plate and other breakfast essentials.

Step Three

Skip ahead to the hardware installation steps if you're happy with the original wood finish.

Once cut to desired size, upgrade the finish by first sanding each of the sides, edges and surfaces with a palm sander.

Step Four

Brush wood stabilizer along the grain of the wood.

After sanding, brush a generous coat of wood stabilizer over the entire board. Wood stabilizer not only brings out the rich tones of the wood grain without lacquer, but it also prevents wood from checking, cracking and warping and will also rejuvenate old, dry wood.

Step Five

This before and after shows the difference between treated and non-treated wood.

Allow the wood stabilizer to soak into the wood and dry fully according to package instructions. While the difference is slight, you can see how the wood stabilizer treated board compares to the untouched board, bringing out the natural wood grain.

Step Six

Oil-rubbed bronze modern cabinet pulls give off a rustic vibe that pairs well with a rustic board.

Once the stabilizer dries completely, install the cabinet pulls on either end of the tray with a 1/2-inch overhang.

Step Seven

Measure and screw seamless handle screws from the underside of the board.

If using cabinet pulls that screw seamlessly into each end of the bar, measure their placement on the underside of the tray first. Trace around each bar end where the screws will go. Drill holes through the board with a drill bit large enough to push the screws that came with the cabinet pulls tightly through the board, then screw each pull securely into place using a screwdriver.

Step Eight

The cabinet pulls act as handles on the finished tray.

Once the handles are fixed into place, the tray is ready for use.

Step Nine

Easily bring breakfast upstairs to bed.

If using as a breakfast tray, decorate with a few surprises like fresh strawberries, flowers and a handwritten note to complement a favorite meal.

Step Ten

Stack magazines on the tray to help your organize coffee table.

Take advantage of this tray's versatility by using it as a coffee table or ottoman tray. It could even double as a lap tray for your laptop while lounging about.