Tray Table Tutorial #1: My Brother's Tray Table - measured drawings and instructions for construction

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Blog entry by lightweightladylefty posted 07-03-2011 10:19 PM 2269 reads 4 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Tray Table Tutorial series Part 2: My Brother's Tray Table - measured drawings and instructions for construction »

I was asked if I would share plans for the tray table I made for my brother. It actually took more time attempting to write these plans than it did to complete the tray table. I did not take any construction photos so I have used SketchUp scenes to try to illustrate the steps.

Disclaimer: This is the plan which I made on SketchUp before making the tray. ( I didn’t follow it exactly since
I found that I had already surfaced some stock to 5/8” and used it instead of 1/2” thickness.) It should give you a good start on the table, but feel free to ask questions if you do not understand the drawings.

I selected poplar to build my table to make it easier/lighter to move.

The overall size of the table when the legs are folded is 21” x 13” x 2¼”. The tabletop overhangs the apron by ½” on all sides.

Top left of table. Glue a ledge to the bottom edge of the left slanting table.

Top right of table.

Front and back apron pieces. Cut 2 pieces with mitered ends. (You could butt joint this with brads and glue if you would prefer; just cut your end pieces accordingly.)

Detail for pivot location on front and back apron. Drill these holes about 1/4” deep and the appropriate size for your pin (nail piece). See Close-up of leg pivot detail in Part #2.

Left end apron. You can assemble the front and back apron pieces to the left end apron.

Apron assembly. This is how your apron assembly will look.

Holder for wire stand. Cut only the back four dadoes (shown on the left) now. Size your dadoes according to the size of your stand wire. Make them just slightly deeper and wider that the thickness of your wire. Wait to cut the dado closest to the front until you have mounted the holder on the underside of the top (see note below).

Details of placement of stand holder. The stand holder is mounted level with the top of the apron. NOTE: I marked and cut the dado closest to the front of the table after I had dry-fit the metal stand to the table top to be certain it would lay in the groove and allow the table top to close perfectly flat.

Metal stand with brackets. I found a piece from a discarded electric heater that I utilized for the stand. There are numerous possible solutions to the stand: you could use a hinged piece of wood but would need to alter the spacing between the stand holder and tray top accordingly. If you use wire, make certain it is sufficiently strong to hold the tabletop. I attached my wire stand with small, rounded-over pieces of oak. Use your imagination!

Placement of holders for metal stand. Depending on what you use for your metal stand, this is an approximate location for the holders. Adjust your brackets accordingly. Note: The back edge is the side opposite the ledge.

Dial-up is rather slow for downloading this so I’ll try to finish after I get home from church tonight.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

2 comments so far

View Donna Menke's profile

Donna Menke

578 posts in 3086 days

#1 posted 07-04-2011 02:03 AM

Wow- super plans and instructions. Looking forward to the finale. You sure are good with Sketch-up. Guess I will have to hang up the drawing pencil someday and give it a good try. I left off on AutoCad 20 years ago- it was not user friendly.

-- "So much wood. . .so little time!"

View lightweightladylefty's profile


2838 posts in 2532 days

#2 posted 07-04-2011 04:28 AM


I guess the real test will be if someone can actually make the tray table from these plans!? I’m never quite sure if I’ve said too much or too little.

You really do need to give SketchUp a try. It’s so much easier to make changes on SketchUp than with a pencil—and with all the mistakes and my-typical-female-change-of-mind, I like being able to make my mistakes on SketchUp instead of on wood!


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

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