Jun 15, 2016

How to: Make a Stylish, Multi-Purpose Wood Roll-Up Tray

Make a multi-purpose roll-up wood tray

I recently saw an image of something like this guy on Pinterest and after many minutes of searching, I couldn't find where I could buy it. So, I made my own! It's a roll-up wood tray you can drape over the arm or cushion of your couch to create a flat surface for all kinds of good stuff. The original intent was to make a handy couch-tray, I quickly discovered there were a bunch of uses for this tray. Here's a few I thought of: a travel valet tray, a hot food trivet, or a pad to set your laptop on (I'm using mine as I type this very sentence!)

It couldn't be easier to make. Here's what you need.

  • 4 strips of wood - 1.5" wide x 1/4" thick x 36" long.
    • I found these oak strips at Home Depot, precut and planed flat. Easy!
  • Saw (we used a table saw)
  • Thick piece of felt of your choice. Roughly 20 x 15"
  • Wood Glue and rotary cutter


Make a multi-purpose roll-up wood tray

I set my fence at 7/16" and the blade at 25 degrees. This gives it just a slight chamfer that will add a great finished looked. After you've cut the chamfer, chop each strip into 12" pieces and lay out in a row to check for uniform lengths. I was totally off in my rough cutting, and I had to hack down a few to make them even. Whoops.


Make a multi-purpose roll-up wood tray

Now my (least) favorite part, sanding. Take some time to sand it down to 300 grit for a nice smooth finish.


Make a multi-purpose roll-up wood tray

Add some wipe-on poly. I love wipe-on poly because it dries quickly and has a great worn-in look.


Make a multi-purpose roll-up wood tray

Lay out your piece of felt, making sure its longer than you need it to be. This can allow you to focus on lining up the wood strips without being precise on the edges. Spread the glue carefully with a brush or your finger. If the glue spreads to the sides, wipe them off so you don't accidentally glue together your wood strips. 

Make a multi-purpose roll-up wood tray

Lay out each strip as you apply glue, placing them as close as you can to one another. This will provide a tension that will add stability on uneven surfaces.


Make a multi-purpose roll-up wood tray

Flipping over the mat was a challenge I had to get a couple of flat trays to flip it over without it falling apart. (Try two cookie sheets!) Use a brayer or rolling pin to press the felt into the glue. Notice the glue seeping through in one part, that's because I put too much glue on that strip. Don't do that! A thin even layer should be good enough. After you've rolled the felt, let it dry overnight.


Make a multi-purpose roll-up wood tray

Run a rolling blade or box cutter along the edges of your tray to cut off excess felt.


Make a multi-purpose roll-up wood tray

Tah-Dah! Now all that's left to do is to put it to work!

 For a final touch, get a nice strip of leather to tie it up when you're not using it. 

Oh, I came up with a few more as I was writing this: a display mat, a decorative display tray, a footstool or coffee table topper...see, so many possibilities!

Make a multi-purpose roll-up wood tray


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Anonymous on Feb 15, 2015:


What would you charge me if I wanted to buy one?  

Let me know, thanks!

- K

Jeff on Feb 05, 2015:

Always something to learn!

bryson on Feb 05, 2015:

@jeff Thanks for your comment. You know what, you're absolutely correct. I should have mentioned my final size of my tray was bout 11.25" in length. I was using my brand new table saw sled to make cross cuts on these strips and i had trouble getting them all the same length! So I kept hacking at them till they were uniform. Pro tip: practice on a new saw sled before you make cuts on new products! 

Jeff Ward on Feb 05, 2015:

Nice- but what about material loss from saw kerf? Seems like the length cannot be 12" given your materials list.

bruno on Feb 04, 2015:

This is SO awesome. I want one for my laptop.