The Easiest DIY Bath Tray With Just One Board!


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October 27, 2022
Zoe Hunt

If you’re a bath lover like me, you understand the importance of a bath tray. 

A few years ago, we made a DIY bath tray with all the bells and whistles ( a book holder, candle holder, wine glass holder), but it doesn’t fit the new bathtub. 

Easy DIY Bath tray made from poplar wood sitting on white bath tub

So this time we decided to go for clean, simple, and modern. This is the easiest DIY bath tray tutorial, so let’s dive right in. 

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Recommended Tools: 

New to DIY? Check out our post on beginner woodworking tools to determine which tools to get!

What You’ll Need: 

  • (1) – 1x6x8 board (we used poplar with a really fun grain pattern) 
  • Wood glue 
  • 1.25” nails 
  • Sealer (we used water-based Helmsman spar urethane in clear satin)

How to Make a Wooden Bath Tray 

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Measure the overall width of your tub. Then measure the thickness of your tub. 

measuring width of bath tub with tape measure


Cut your wood to match the overall external width of your tub. You can cut it to be slightly smaller if you want to ensure the bath tray doesn’t extend past the edge of the tub. 

As you’re cutting, consider the grain pattern. Since this is such a simple tray, the wood itself is really the star of the show. Consider which pieces of the board you want to include in your tray before cutting. For me, there was a knot that I really wanted to make sure I included.

poplar wood laid on ground to determine grain pattern

Then cut two pieces to approximately 1” wide. These two pieces don’t need to be exact. 


Sand your wood with 120, 180, and 220-grit sandpaper so that it’s nice and smooth. 


If you want to stain your wood, you can certainly do that. We loved the natural look of the poplar wood, so we decided to skip the stain on this project.

We chose Helmsman’s Spar Urethane because it’s great for projects that will be exposed to water. Spar Urethane was the go-to sealer for boats, so I trust it for my little bath tray! 

As you’re buying your sealer, make sure to grab the water-based version. This will not yellow or amber. If you want to add a little more color to your piece, you can opt for the oil-based version that will add some yellow/amber to your wood color. 

We applied three coats of sealer, following the instructions on the can for dry times. Once dry, we lightly sanded with 220-grit sandpaper between each coat.


Once dry, it’s time to assemble! I like to place a towel underneath my wood at this step to prevent my workbench (and all the glue that’s stuck on it over time) from scratching my wood. 

For this bath tray, we opted for a slight gap between the two boards. You can keep the gap or push the boards together completely. 

Grab your 1” pieces and center them up from side to side (the distance will depend on how big your gap is, which is why I’m not providing measurements). 

using Kreg multi-mark tool to measure setback of support boards

Then place them however far in they need to be for your particular tub.

You want to place the boards slightly further in than the thickness of the tub so that the tray can slide and move easily. I’d recommend an additional 1/4” – 1” on each side depending on how much you want it to be able to move. 

Once you’re happy with the placement, you can add some tape around your 1” piece to mark the placement. 

using titebond 3 wood glue on piece of poplar

Then add some wood glue to the bottom of the pieces and position it on the bath tray. Add 4 nails to each 1” piece, making sure to avoid the gap in the middle!

nailing 1" board to bottom of bath tray

Note: wood glue works best on unsealed surfaces. You can either wait to seal the bottom until after assembly or you can mark where the board will go and avoid sealing those exact spots for maximum adhesion. 

And if you’re wondering why I recommended sealing before assembly, it’s so that I could seal the edges that will have a small gap between them. There’s no way my paintbrush would’ve fit after assembly! 

simple wood bath tray sitting on freestanding tub

There you have it! Now you know how to build the world’s easiest DIY bath tray! Well actually, I can think of one that would have been even easier…using just one piece of wood instead of having two with a gap! 

The easiest DIY bath tray text overlay on image of simple wood bath tray
DIY simple wood bath tray sitting on white freestanding tub
Free download wood sizing cheatsheet
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