cut out tray title

Happy Wednesday Pretty Handy readers.  Jaime here from That’s My Letter to share a DIY project that makes a great anytime gift or (an even better idea) for Mother’s Day.  I’ll show you how to make this wood cut out tray which you can personalize with any name or shape.

The wood cut out makes for an unexpected design element.  I painted bright blue behind the cut out, but any contrasting color will look great.

cut out tray 3

Plexiglass installed over the wood cut out provides a solid flat surface.  The plexiglass also adds a bit of shine and fancy!

cut out tray 2

Below are the step-by-step instructions to make this tray.


cut out tray supplies

  • 1/2″ plywood 18″ x 12″
  • 1/4″ plywood 18″ x 12″
  • 1 sheet plexiglass (18″ x 24″ –  makes 2 trays)
  • 1 – 1″ x 2″ x 6′ pine board (cut 2 @ 18″ length and 2 @ 13 1/2″ length)
  • white paint
  • blue paint
  • stain
  • 2 handles
  • 1/2″ wood screws
  • 1/2″ lath screws
  • plexi/glass cutter
  • jig saw
  • sandpaper
  • ballpoint pen
  • measuring tape & pencil
  • drill, bits & 1/2″ spade bit


cut out tray step 1

Step 1: Print out your name or word.  (I used Sign Painter – housescript font at 475 point.  Any font will do as long as it’s thick enough to cut out.)

cut out tray step 2

Step 2: Center the printout on the 1/2″ plywood and trace around letters with a ballpoint pen.  Use heavy pressure to create an indent in the wood.

cut out tray step 2 results

The pressure from the pen leaves an indentation. Trace over this with pencil so you can see it better when cutting with the jig saw.

cut out tray step 3

Step 3: Drill a few 1/2″ holes inside the letters.  This will give you a place to insert the jig saw blade.

cut out tray step 4

Step 4: Cut out the letters with a jig saw.  Go slow and steady (but not too slow or you’ll scorch the wood).  Sand any rough spots. Paint the top surface only with two coats of white paint.

cut out tray step 5

Step 5: Paint the 1/4″ plywood your desired color.  (You really only need paint where the letters will show through.)

cut out tray step 6

Step 6: Attach the 1/4″ painted plywood to the underside of 1/2″ cut out plywood using countersunk 1/2″ screws from the back.  Be sure to bury the screw heads into the plywood so they won’t scratch any surface.

cut out tray step 7

Step 7: Cut plexiglass to size (one 18″ x 24″ piece cut in half makes two 18″ x 12″ pieces).  Clamp a straight edge on the cut line and run a glass/plastic cutter through the plexiglass multiple times.  (It took me about 20 passes before I was able to snap the two pieces apart.)

cut out tray step 8

Step 8: Peel off one side of protective plastic from plexiglass and attach it to the top surface of the 1/2″ plywood using 1/2″ lath screws.  Pre-drill first. I recommend using a hand screwdriver for the lath screws, you don’t want to crack the plexiglass.

cut out tray step 9

Step 9: Attach tray edge long sides first using 1 1/4″ finish nails and glue.  Repeat process for short sides.

cut out tray step 10

Step 10: Attach handles at the center of the short ends.

cut out tray step 11

Step 11: Peel off top protective plastic from plexiglass.

cut out tray 1

This is a fun DIY project that you can personalize to fit your purpose.

cut out tray 4

Happy tray making friends.

Jaime signature~learn more about Jaime~


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DIY Wood Tray with Cutout | Pretty Handy Girl

8 replies
  1. Cindy Lou Johnson
    Cindy Lou Johnson says:

    Hi Jamie,
    I just found your tray. It looks great. I will try it as you have it at some point in the future. But for now, I think I will adapt it a bit. I was looking for a tray that I could mount pictures in for family members. I think your directions will be a great start.
    Thank you.

  2. Jordan
    Jordan says:

    This would actually be great for my mother-in-law! She loves serving desserts on trays like this. Plus this is an awesome idea because you could put whatever word or words you wanted – super customizable!


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