DIY BATH TRAY TUTORIAL (And Bonus Yarn Craft From Fariha Nasir!)

Whew. I wrote this post last week before the craziness of COVID-19 hit the USA. So I’m altering this post a bit to reflect what we’re living through in this moment.

Most of the US is moving toward lockdown mode — here in Nashville, bars and restaurants are operating at minimum capacity, takeaway only, or completely shut down. I don’t feel *great* about our future as a city that relies heavily on tourism dollars, especially following a tornado. Even still, I’m optimistic that the city will help one another.

To help keep our minds off of COVID-19 and stay busy while practicing social distancing, I’ve teamed up with my friend Fariha Nasir of Pennies for a Fortune to bring you some crafts for the next few weeks to help stave off imminent boredom.

Fariha’s craft is a beautifully-simple DIY yarn wall-hanging. Follow that link to check it out and create one for yourself or with your kiddos while they’re home from school.

My craft for this week is creating a DIY bath tray using scrap pieces of wood. In times of crisis, sometimes it’s best to just sit back and have a nice, long, warm soak in the tub.

A few weeks ago, you may recall seeing my Zero Dollar Update bathroom (that was more like an $80 update after we had to replace the drywall and insulation in the ceiling, but I digress).

In the final few hours before reveal, I thought my bathroom could benefit from a little bit of extra styling. So I decided to build myself a bath tray! I’ve seen them on Pinterest and Instagram hundreds of times and I had serious bath envy. Plus, it looked easy enough.

And guess what? It really was SO EASY.


1×10 pine board, 4′ long (this is an approximation – I used 1×12 and cut it to 8″ wide)
Measuring tape
Saw (table, circular, or chop saw – any will do)
Palm sander or sandpaper
Wood conditioner (I use MinWax)
Stain – optional
Rag or other stain applicator


First, you’re going to need to cut your wood to size and this will largely depend on the size of your bathtub. I believe my sad, old, vintage tub is slightly narrower than a modern tub.

Cut your pieces to size. You should have one long piece that will go across from side to side and two smaller pieces that will act as “feet”. Your feet will prevent the board from sliding around when the tray is in use.

I used a circular saw on my incredible trash can workbenches. You can see on the left side of my wood that I clamped a straight edge onto it so my cuts would be straight.

Here’s what my tray looks like with the feet cut as well. My tray and my feet are the same width.

After this step, you will want to smooth out your wood pieces with sandpaper or a palm sander. I used a palm sander and 120 grit sandpaper just to smooth the wood and soften the corners.

Next, it’s time to attach the tray feet.

When you are spacing your feet, ensure that they are laid so that they sit on the inner rim of your bathtub. This will make it so that they are hidden when in use, and it will keep your tray from sliding out of the bathtub.

You can see in this photo I laid my feet about 4-5″ from the outside edge of the wood. This was measured to accommodate my bathtub’s rim. Again, lots of tubs have different measurements, so make sure you do that part according to your own tub’s sizing. Screw the feet into the tray using two to three screws.

Next up is conditioning the wood if you’re using common pine boards. Hard woods such as pine require conditioning first to help them prepare to accept stain. If you skip this step, it’s likely that your stain will end up looking splotchy.

I used this wood conditioner on this project and on others in the past with great success. It only needs to penetrate for about 30 minutes before it’s ready to stain.

After conditioning, it’s time to stain! If you have a stain picked out, double-check application steps. I chose Varathane provincial because it’s a natural color (plus I had it on hand already). In the past, I’ve used this stain for my art ledge and as a mix-in with Varathane Whitewash for my dining room table and it’s perfect.

I don’t use anything fancy when I apply stain — an old rag does just fine as far as I’m concerned. No need to spend money on things that just get dirty anyway! PSA: do not use your stain rags on things that come in contact with food and consumables.

One to two coats of stain should get you where to need to go. If you desire, you can coat the top with wax to help seal it from water. Obviously, this isn’t made to be submersed in water, but you will be handling it wet.

After letting it set for a few hours (if it’s not rainy or too sunny out, I recommend leaving it in the open air — it’s very smelly), you’re ready to go!

Now you can be the envy of all of your bath-loving friends. Enjoy, stay safe, wash your hands, and most importantly: relax.

We’ll be coming at you again next week with another round of COVIDcrafts. Stay tuned!

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