DIY – Bathtub Tray

This past Christmas, I decided to make as many handmade items as I could rather than buy…and this bathtub tray for my mom was first on the list! The days of balancing your beverage of choice on the edge of the bathtub, or dropping your phone/ tablet in the water not so graciously, is over. Well…maybe not OVER, but at least this tray gives you an advantage you didn’t have before, so make the best of it! Shall we take a look a at the DIY process?

What you will need: (this is custom to the bathtub I made it for, so your materials may vary and likely your measurements will for sure!)

*blue items are clickable links to the items I used- I am NOT compensated in the event you purchase through the links*

To get started, I needed a general measurement of the space the tray would fit. The tub is curved on each side, as well as handles on each side of the tub I knew I wanted to the tray to fit onto the handles, not the edges of the bathtub ( if on the edge of the bathtub, not only will it be that much higher, it runs the risk of scratching the tub). I measured the largest distance between the inside curves of the tub.

After getting the board cut to length, I made a quick trip over to my mom and dads house to find out the radius that was needed to make the board fit over the tub handles and into the curved space…and since my dad was wearing socks he climbed into the tub to do that for me! #teamwork

Back at home, I used my bench sander to shape the board along the lines my dad had traced out. Easy!

Now that I had the size and shape of the tray to perfectly fit in place, I again took it over to its future home and marked underneath where the handles on the tub were, so I would know where to put the wood blocks to keep it from shifting side to side (not pictured).

Below you will see I have made a line that the block will placed. I then used this AMAZING new pocket hole machine, the Castle 100 and it’s basically magic. With minimal adjusting, you place the board onto the deck, secure it with the built in clamp, turn machine on, pull a lever, drill I pilot hole through the back…you’re left with a pristine pocket hole that will remove any common problems other pocket holes create like wood shifting when the screw is tightened…yep. It stays in place while the screw is being put in and you hardly even have to hold it there! You can see in the photo how clean the cut is, there’s no tear our either so it is ready to be mounted flush right away!

So after getting the pocket holes into the 2 stop blocks (I really don’t know what to call these haha) I put a dab of glue, lined them up and attached them to the underneath of the bathtub tray. The only thing I would have done differently here is attach them with the pocket holes facing out, rather than in…that way they couldn’t be seen while in the bath, but I haven’t asked my mom to go under water to see if she can see them that easily, I’m pretty certain they are not visible from a normal bath taking position!

Now the tray is ready for the important accessories…first up is the phone/tablet support.

I used my Kindle for reference, it’s bigger than her phone but smaller than her tablet…

The support was planned to be along the back edge of the tray, so I found center of the tray, and then just kind of played with the placement of where the front piece needed to go (it’s attached in the last photo above). Castle was generous enough to send me some pocket hole plugs, but I was not on my picture taking game and didn’t get a shot of the back of the main tablet support that is also attached with 2 pocket holes and glue, but they got plugged up for a clean finished look. The front support is attached with glue and a few brad nails.

Next step…and maybe even more important than the tablet/phone holder…I’m talking about the wine/water/coffee/beverage holder!

I traced the largest coffee mug my husband owns ( I’m not a coffee drinker) this gave me the outline of where I would use the palm router to remove a few layers of the wood for a shallow cup rest. I found center of that circle, and drew a line out to the front edge of the tray-this will be the cut allowing a wine stem to slide into.

After cutting out the cup rest area, I set up a little guide along the side and top of the cup rest so the router had a path to follow to cut the stem slide groove? (again with these technical names of things!

I’m 98% happy with how this area of the tray turned out…could have gone without chipping the wood in 2 spots when the router first touched against the wood…user error? probably. Thank goodness for wood filler! The pictures show prior to cleaning up with the little zip sanding tool, but the important thing to note is now my mom had some beverage holding options for her soon to be tray!

Back over the tub to see how this was really coming to life and it all fit perfect. EEEK!

Time to finish this thing up! The bathroom this would go in has some browns, grays, blues and greens…sounds like a lot but it flows! I painted this a soft sage green, sanded it down a bit in a few areas and around the edges and then put a quick layer of stain over it, and wiped it down really well. The idea of this technique is to put stain on the areas that were sanded down, and add a little antique look to the general appearance. Something was still missing…there was a big empty space on the left side of the tablet holder that was not sitting easy with the balance I was needing to feel haha

I cut a quick stencil, and against my better judgement I chose a whispy/thin leaf pattern that I knew before even trying that it would not work. *forehead slap* so I got to hand paint that part after removing the stencil!

Luckily for me, the word part of the stencil worked perfect, we don’t need my messy handwriting attempt on this gift!

Since this will be used over/near water-I applied a few thin layers of poly varnish for protection.

I almost forgot….handles! I had a few neat handles laying around that would work perfect, except the fact the screws were way too long-I did a counter sink hold on the underneath side (after drilling a pilot hole), and cut off the extra length, and the counter sink hole was perfect to nestle the washer/nut for a flush tight finish. I’m great at not taking all the right pictures…add this step to the list!

Here’s the final result! Mom loved it. Best gift I could give her for her newly remodeled bathroom!

Thanks for reading! I hope this inspires you to get creative for future gift giving!

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