Hi all! I know it’s Friday, which means you may have been expecting the last installment of 8 steps to better photos on AUTO, but I’ve been anxious to share this tutorial here, so better photos will be back next week and today you get a long overdue craft/decor post instead. (This post was originally shared at eighteen25.)
I present to you the DIY herringbone tray, intended for use as home decor or a cool photography background for small items. I love photography and I’ve created a couple of inexpensive DIY background boards so I can take great photos of my kids in my house, but I’ve been wanting a smaller, more interesting background board to help showcase some of the items I make and share here on the blog. So I created a bright turqoise tray with a herringbone design that works both as decor and as a photography background. I’ve been meaning to make a table runner since we revamped our kitchen but haven’t gotten around to it, so the tray is currently adding a little pizazz to the center of my dining room table.
I LOVE how this tray looks, whether it’s on my table, propped up against the wall above my piano (my faux mantle 🙂 or in photographs. The materials are easy to get ahold of and inexpensive, and anyone can make this as long as you’re willing to put in a little time. I’ve also made a much larger and simpler version that I’ll share at the end of the post that took less than an hour start to finish. (Click through for instructions.)
To make your own herringbone tray, you’ll need:
1/8th inch thick MDF or very thin plywood just smaller than the finished tray size (I have the guys at Home Depot cut this to size for me)
7-8 wood laths (these are 4 ft long pieces of thin wood you can get at Home Depot for about 50 cents each)
miter saw or other saw to cut wood lath
sander or sandpaper and some elbow grease
This is how I put it all together:
If you’re cutting your lath with a miter saw, like I did, it’s fairly difficult to get all the pieces exactly the same length. No worries – just move them around in the design until they fit together, then label them so you’ll remember which pieces go where. You want to pieces to be fairly flush with one another, but a few tiny gaps won’t matter at all.
Don’t worry about those little gaps at the top and bottom right now – you’ll fill them in later with small pieces.
Yup, Dr. Pepper was the handiest thing I had to use as weights…
I painted, sanded, antiqued, decided I didn’t like it, sanded most of it off, painted again, sanded some more, added a teeny bit of antiquing, and called it good. You, however, could simply paint or stain your tray and just be happy with how it looks the first time 🙂
All told, I spent a couple of hours on three or four different days working on the tray. It wasn’t a huge amount of work, but getting all the pieces to the right size took a little time. If you’re interested in this project but don’t want to invest too much time, consider making a tray with wood lath pieces going all in one direction, like this:
This piece is obviously much larger than my tray, but it’s the same idea. I simply cut a bunch of laths to 3 feet long, then glued them all onto two cross pieces on the back. You could easily make a simple tray by gluing shorter pieces to an MDF backing and adding a border like I did on the herringbone tray. This large piece sits on my piano and provides a backdrop for whatever decor I currently have out and doubles as another photography backdrop.