DIY serving tray from a cabinet door!

DIY serving tray from a cabinet door!

Cabinet Door Serving Tray 


We are coming up on the holidays, and we all have that friend or relative that we simply have no clue what to give them. We wrack our brains, we drop hints, but at the end of the day we end up strolling aisles, and online pages, only to gift them something that we hope they will like. This year, let's try something new, and make them a quick and easy gift that is customized just for them.  

While not all of us are lucky enough to have cabinet doors just lying about, most of us can easily access them through a local Restore, thrift store, or building supply surplus for just a few dollars, making this project super affordable. A few small touches takes this cabinet door from bland to beautifully perfect for that someone special (or difficult someone, as it may be). So sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and let's get started!

First things first, regardless of where we managed to procure our cabinet door from, there is simply no way of knowing what has graced its surface. With this is mind we want to do our prep work! This includes a thorough cleaning, scuff sanding (if the surface is painted or sealed), and priming. You can head over to read about the proper prep steps, so I will just touch on it here, but I cannot stress enough that these are necessary steps to ensure a strong finish!  A little suggestion, prep a few pieces at a time if you have the space, so you can knock out a few projects at once.


Wise Owl Stain Eliminating Primer


While we are allowing our Wise Owl Primer to completely dry (6 hours for proper tannin and stain blocking) we can begin working through our design. A little tip, Wise Owl Primer comes in 3 different colors, so we want to ensure we are picking the best primer for our paint color. Clear is optimal for a piece that you will want to distress allowing the wood below to show through, White is best used for lighter shades, gray is designed for use under your darker shades, and most importantly for your reds (choose white however when working with yellows and greens as gray can change the look of the color).

Now there are a number of ways we can go from here, but for the sake of your eyes, and my time, I have outlined just the process I followed below. Just know you have a creative license, and every great project starts with a little trial and error! Before applying paint, I chose to go ahead and attach my Iron Orchid Design Trimmings 2 Moulds to the top and bottom edges of my cabinet door, as I was going with a solid color for the entire piece, and would add some flair at the end. We carry most of the products used, and occasionally include Amazon Associate links, while you don't have to purchase from us, or Amazon, doing so does help us keep our blog, and our website up and running, so we thank you for even looking!

As the lip of my cabinet was wider, I combined two of the trimmings moulds as pictured above, to make what appears to be a much larger design. I absolutely love Iron Orchid Design's new Trimmings 1 and Trimmings 2 moulds, as you can easily combine a number of the designs to build a custom look. I used the Air Dry Clay from Iron Orchid Design as well, as when dry, it has a weathered, antiqued look which was perfect for this project. If you are going for a more modern or sleek look, you can opt for resin, which sets up quickly, but will not allow the flexibility of the clay, so just keep this in mind when choosing your medium.  I absolutely love Alumilite Amazing Casting Resin you just have to make sure you measure and mix your resin accurately, and move quickly, as resin isn't very forgiving.

IOD Iron Orchid Design Air Dry Clay

With the Air Dry Clay, you do not have to wait for it to set up to remove, just make sure you press the clay firmly into the mould, and then work from the center out pulling the clay to evenly spread it to the edges, using the lip to cut off any excess clay. Once the clay is evenly spread, I begin to bend the edges of the mould around the clay to loosen it from the mould while gently pulling. For this project once the clay was removed, I opted to attach the clay to the cabinet door immediately using wood glue. When I had all of the clay moulds attached, I used a small bit of water on the tip of my finger to help glue together and fuse any edges.

IOD Iron Orchid Designs Trimmings 2

Typically I would allow the moulds a bit of time to dry before painting, but because I wanted a worn look, I went ahead and applied Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint in Dried Thyme. This color, is earthy and warm, it is literally farmhouse perfection, especially when paired with Antique Villa or Kashmir. Wise Owl paint dries quickly, allowing you to move almost seamlessly to the next step. However, as I had painted over the air dry clay before it had set up, I allowed it to dry overnight.

 When I returned to the project, I had perfect small cracks in the clay moulds, but there was a small amount of separation in one of the fused areas, which is  nothing a small amount of air dry clay couldn't fix. Just push a small piece into the areas you wish to fill in, and you are ready to move to a second coat.  I used my small project go to, the S30 by Cling-On to make sure I was able to push the Dried Thyme into all the little cracks and crevices of the clay with my second coat of paint, and then I stepped away for about an hour to allow it to dry.

Cling-On S30 and Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint in Dried Thyme

Usually I would have my Cling-Ons stored in water so they are always ready to help smooth on some Wise Owl paint, but because my next step is to dry brush the tops of the moulds in Wise Owl Paint's Antique Villa, I needed to ensure I had a dry brush ready. I still reach for my S30s for this step, as they can take the beating a dry brushing can give. This step takes very little paint, and you will want to have a cloth, or paper towel handy to wipe away excess paint. 

When dry brushing details, I lightly dip just the edges of my paint brush into the paint (generally a lighter color than the base color), and then wipe the majority of the paint off, hence the need for a cloth handy. From here I lightly kiss the tips of my brush across just the top of the moulds, transferring the "dry" paint onto just the surface. Try a small section first, to make sure you have wiped off enough paint before you dive in. The paint should almost look powdery as it transfers. This step is very much a "season to taste" step. Apply as much of the lighter color paint as you desire to achieve a look that suits your taste.

Wise Owl Antique Villa Dry Brushed onto Mould

Once this was completed I chose to add a stamp to the center of the cabinet so it didn't look quite so naked! I pondered over a few possible words like Cheers, Family, Bon Appetit, but landed on just an image of a cow, because nothing screams farmhouse serving tray more than a cow.

IOD Iron Orchid Design Farm Animals Stamp

Using my Iron Orchid Designs Farm Animals stamp, brayer, and a little Wise Owl Chalk Synthesis Paint in Inkwell, I had a tray center to be proud of, and it literally took seconds. Simply pour a little paint onto a paper plate, spread a thin amount onto the brayer, and then roll the brayer over the surface of the stamp. From there I grab the edges of my stamp, flip it over, and drop it where I want it, holding it in place with a finger while I press down firmly around the stamp to make sure the paint transfers. If you wanted to go with a word in the center the Typesetting stamp by Iron Orchid Design would be perfect!

Dry brushing is usually my last step prior to sealing, however I chose dark handles for the project, and needed to tie those into the piece. To help do this I used Dark Walnut wax by Wise Owl Paint, and a little bit of their Furniture Salve in Noir Moon. I opted for the scented salve as this tray will not be in direct contact with food, however, if you will be presenting this as a cheese board, or a direct food contact surface, you will want to use the clear food grade salve to seal the piece instead.

Wise Owl Black Walnut Furniture Wax

I first sealed the entire piece with a light coat of the furniture salve, making sure to buff it in well, as you do not want to leave a shine. Then I used a stencil brush with firm bristles to help work the dark wax into the edges and corners of the piece, and applied it in a few areas of the mould as well. A little dark wax goes a long way, so I usually just dab the stencil brush into the wax, and then wipe off excess before applying. From here I use the stencil brush to work the wax along the edges, corners, and into any nooks and crannies where you would naturally see a shadow.

Once I have the wax in the areas I want to work, I then switch to a clean stencil brush and load it with a little of the salve.  The salve will help to thin the wax in the event you are heavier than you want, however you will want to go lightly with this as you don't want to fully pull the dark wax away. This is again a "to taste" look.  I prefer a little dark wax, but many like the look a heavy wax provides, and this is a "you do you" thing, so apply the wax/salve until you love it.  Once you have the piece looking the way you want, drill holes on either side, and attach the handles (measure twice, drill once) then walk away, because all that is left is to allow the wax/salve to cure before you pass this beauty on to its new owner. Cure time is generally 30 days, but if you need to gift it before then, tuck a card into the gift telling your receiver to go easy on it for x amount of days, to allow the finish to fully cure.


Questions, comments, or suggestions?  Drop us a line, we would love to hear from you, and would love to see your cabinet door trays!

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1 comment

I love this project! I cannot wait to try this myself and share my tray with you!


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