Radar’s brother and his wife are notoriously hard to shop for. If they ever want or need something, they always just get it for themselves! So I have to get increasingly creative each year to give them a special gift for Christmas. This year, I was really excited when I found this idea for a chalkboard serving tray on Pinterest! It’s the perfect gift for them – they often have friends over for wine and snacks, and a cute serving tray makes the perfect way to share your favorite goodies while letting people know what they are. (It can also come in handy if you have friends with allergies – what an easy way to label ingredients!)
As usual, though, I put my own spin on the project. The biggest problem I had with the original is that she suggests using super glue to attach the handles… and I just can’t get myself to trust glue to hold a tray loaded down with heavy food and breakable serving dishes! So, even though Radar is gone and I usually leave power tool work for him, I braved the garage (with my helpers, as you’ll see) and came up with my own, sturdier version!
- 1″x12″ board, 4 ft long (get the nice wood – you’ll be able to see it around the edges)
- 2 drawer pull handles, whatever variety suits your recipient
- Stain, with cloth for wiping
- Blue painter’s tape
- Rustoleum spray-on chalkboard paint
- Tape measure
- Drill with standard bit and Forstner bit (I’ll explain in a minute)
Cut your board into 2 foot sections. You can go longer, but it’s going to be harder to carry and also larger to store, so I kept mine on the smaller side. If you’re like me and don’t feel like making a trip to the ER because I tried to use my husband’s saw and took off a finger, they will cut your wood for free at the hardware store – take advantage! Use the drawer pulls to mark where the screws should go. Use your standard drill bit, which should be about the same size as the screws that came with the drawer pulls, to drill 4 holes in each board (one for each screw). Then, to keep the tray from rocking when it’s set down, use the Forstner bit that’s a little larger than the head of the screws to drill a little trench for the screw heads, so they’ll be recessed.
You’ll see, when you insert the screw into the hole, the head will be flush with the board, creating a flat, stable surface on the bottom of the tray. Don’t drill too far with the Forstner bit, though – your screw will stick out too much and you’ll have trouble getting it all the way into the handle.
Take your screws out and stain the top, bottom, and sides of the boards. The stain I had was really dark (it’s called Jacobean if you like my look!), so I painted about 1/3 of the surface at a time, then wiped with a rag to keep it from seeping in too much. Let it dry overnight.
Then, tape up your boards. I used extra-wide tape and just lined it up with the bottom of the side, then folded up onto the top. I definitely recommend taping the sides, because there will be overspray when you add the chalkboard paint.
Once you’re all taped up, spray away! I usually do this on the grass, because it grows and goes away, but if there’s snow on the ground, an open garage with a drop cloth works too! Follow the directions on the can; I sprayed a layer, left it 24 hours, then did another coat. Then carefully remove your tape, screw the handles on, and voila! You have a beautiful serving tray for yourself or to give someone for Christmas!
Don’t forget to include something to write with for your recipient! They make these great chalk pens nowadays, too – so much better than traditional chalk! They make such neat lettering, and come off with a damp cloth. You can also personalize around the border of the chalkboard surface – add a name and wedding anniversary, or a playful quote. As usual, the sky is the limit! This versatile, useful gift is sure to be a hit with whomever you give it to.