I painted this wood tray a few years ago and I just love how versatile it is – and how much use it gets especially this time of year. I’ve used it as a centerpiece tray, cupcake display, hanging wood art, shelf decor, and candle holder. Whatever it’s purpose, it’s an easy project to make. And the rustic, worn look makes this a forgiving project too.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own:
- long piece of wood – I bought a piece of knotty pine that was 6′ long x 5.5″ high x 0.75″ wide at Home Depot and cut it down to 54″ long.
- red, white & blue acrylic paint
- paint brush
- sandpaper or electric sander
- clear polyurethane
Here are the instructions:
1. Cut your piece of wood to the size you want (or have a home improvement store do it for you) and sand the edges so they are somewhat rounded.
2. With your ruler and pencil, mark the area you want for the stars – I made this area 12″ long. Then draw lines for the stripes. I think an odd number is visually more appealing so I went with 5 stripes.
3. Paint the red and white stripes and be sure to continue the paint around to the edges. You could use painters tape to make the edges clean but I like the more natural looking edges. Here’s a helpful tip to paint straight lines: don’t look at the spot you’re painting, look just ahead of it. You hand will follow your eye and stay more straight. This tip applies to drawing and cutting too.
4. Let the stripes dry and paint the blue area. Then decide how many stars you want. You could do so many different configurations for the stars: one big star, 2, 3, have them in a grid, a circle…and so on. The American flag image is recognizable even if it’s not an exact replica. I went with 8 stars and hand drew them – old school. This was the best way for me to make the stars look real. I just drew top and base lines as guides. You could also go online and print out a picture of a star, trim it out and use it as a template. That would have been much easier.
5. Paint the stars white. Let them dry and touch up an additional spots as needed and erase any pencil marks.
6. Then admire your mad painting skills….
7. Here’s the tough part: Use your electric sander, or regular 80 grit sandpaper, and sand all that goodness down so that it looks weathered. This takes some courage to “ruin” what you just created but you’ll love how it looks. I like to make one or two areas look really worn and then just go lightly around the other areas. I also sand the edges pretty well too. I told you it was very forgiving.
8. Once you have sanded the tray to how you like it, paint a coat of polyurethane on to protect it. When dry, display as you wish! The long tray makes this the perfect party centerpiece to display deserts or it can be used as a decoration with candles or flowers.
When not used as a party centerpiece, I lean this patriotic board against a wall for a year-round decoration. You could also place it on a shelf or add hanging hardware and hang it above a doorway. I love projects with multiple uses. Enjoy!