Butler’s 2-in-1 Tray-Table

This handy butler’s tray doubles as a tray and also as a folding table, to be folded away when not needed.

Note that the Perspex is optional, but it does provide a very easy-to-clean surface in case of spills.


*Perspex – one 600x600mm sheet cut to 305x505mm (tray base)

Hardboard – one sheet 1220x610mm, cut to 305x505mm (tray base) and 1 piece to 525x325mm (table base)

Hardboard – one sheet 1220x610mm, cut to 305x505mm (tray base) and 1 piece to 525x325mm (table base)

Meranti: 22x44x1.83m – three lengths cut to 4 legs, each 700mm long, angled at approximately 30° at each end, parallel; 1 cross-brace – 470mm long; table base – 2 lengths of 305mm and 2 lengths of 505mm

Meranti – one length 12x96mm ripped lengthwise into 2 strips – each 12×44, cut to 2 table sides (550mm long) and 2 ends (each 326mm), and 2 tray sides (each 525mm) and 2 tray ends (each 298mm long). (Leftover strip is used to secure the tray base to its frame)

Bevel beading – 10x19mm – 2 lengths of 1.8m – inner tray frame, cut to 4 lengths of 305mm and 4 lengths of 505mm – each end cat at an angle of 10° and trimmed to fit within the outer frame

Two sliding bolts (to lock the table legs in position) 50mm

Two brass hinges – 50mm

Set screws: Two 50mm 5mmØ set screws (leg pivots) plus 5x30mm fender washers – 4; 5mm flat washers – 4; 50mm CSK *(countersunk head) 5mmØ set screws – 6 – to secure hinges to table frame; 2 5mmØ Nyloc nuts to secure leg pivot bolts

40mm panel pins – to secure tray and table corners – 3 panel pins per corner

40mm wood screws – to secure the cross brace to the pair of legs at the front (opposite side to where the user would be sitting; there is no brace on the user side, where a careless foot might hook it)

Two handles of your choice for the tray

Meranti wood filler

Wood glue

Finishes: one can appliance spray (white) to seal the table top; clear varnish for the tray and table frames, legs and crossbeam



You can make the tray first, and then the table in which the tray sits, or you can make the table first, and then the tray, sizing it to fit on to the table. We decided to make the tray first…

Note that the cutting lists given above are approximate. You need to dry fit and then cut to size all pieces, the dimensions of which will, naturally, depend on how big you maker your tray and table ensemble. The tray and table featured here has a working height of 620mm – an ideal height to suit being placed in front of a sofa or easy chair.

  1. The first step is to mark off your Perspex sheet. If you decide not to use the Perspex then ignore steps 1 thru 4.
  2. The first step is to mark off your Perspex sheet. If you decide not to use the Perspex then ignore steps 1 thru 4.
  3. See – this is what can happen!
  4. You need to deeply score it on both surfaces and then gently snap it; if you have scored it deeply enough on both surfaces, you will achieve a clean break. If not… this is what happens. Note that the protective film has not been removed from the sheet yet. Leave it on to the very end.
  5. Apply 2 or more coats of white appliance spray paint or the paint of your choice using a roller and allow it to dry, and then cut the tray base to precisely the same size as the Perspex, using the latter as your template.
  6. You had your 12x96mm meranti ripped at your local Mica. Now cut the 2 sides and 2 ends for the frame; note that these joins are straight, so you need to allow an extra 24-25mm for the sides so that the ends of the ends are completely covered.
  7. This is how the corners are joined – using glue to secure each corner.
  8. I reinforced the corners with 3 x 40mm panel pins each – note how the middle one is at 90° but the two on either side are angled inwards. This is deliberate: it stops the corner pulling apart.
  9. This is the cross section of the bevel beading – 10x19mm – used to secure the Perspex and hardboard below… both are sandwiched between the beading on top, and beading glued below.
    • This illustration shows how the beading strips sandwich the Perspex and hardboard base against the tray frame.
  10. The mitre saw is set to an angle of 10°.
  11. Then cut the beading to length. Cut each piece slightly long and then trim for a very snug fit and glue to the frame.
  12. Give the hardboard base a good clean with a dry cloth and glue it on to the beading already glued to the frame. Then place the Perspex sheet on top of it with the protective flim uppermost and once you have confirmed there are no bits of debris between the Perspex and the hardboard, remove the film and secure the sheet in position by gluing the top beading strips to the inside of the frame. Remember, once the Perspex is fixed in position, whatever debris is between it and the hardboard base will stay there forever – always to remind you that you should have checked just one last time!
  13. Position the handles on the frame and drill the 4mmØ securing screw holes.
  14. You might need to drill wider holes from the underside to accommodate the screws if they are too short (you might need to buy four longer screws if necessary). In any event, they need to be countersunk at least a little to ensure that their heads do not protrude and scratch any surface on which the tray is placed.
  15. Sand all the surfaces and apply the varnish finish to complete the tray. Now for the table – and this is a bit more involved. Cut the 22x44mm pieces for the table frame, ensuring that their dimensions will allow the tray to sit comfortably on the table top. The table frame has to be from 22x44mm meranti both for sturdiness and to accommodate the leg hinge screws and leg locking bolts screws. The table sides and ends of 12x44mm meranti and then cut to fit and glued to the outer edges of the frame, and their corners are reinforced with 40mm panel pins exactly as were the tray corners.
  16. Cut 4 legs from the 22x44mm meranti with each end cut at an angle of 30°.
  17. Each leg is 700mm long but each end is trimmed and cut to meet the floor and the underside of the table properly and ends up at 672mm long.
  18. Mark the centre point and middle of each leg at the midpoint.
  19. Drill the 5mmØ holes for the leg pivot screws; use one leg as the template for the other so that each one is exactly a match.
  20. A 30mmØ fender washer separates each leg from its companion to ensure they move smoothly.
  21. Two hinge mounting blocks were cut from 22x44mm meranti. Not that each is bevelled at 45° across its width and at 30° across its base. This is to ensure that there are no sharp ends for unwary legs, and that the hinge will butt up snugly against the underside of the table frame.
  22. The mounting blocks are attached to the ends of the legs using a 40mm screw and glue to secure each to its leg.
  23. Attach the one flap of the hinge to the mounting block as shown… note that one of the hinge mounting screws also reinforces the block attachment to the leg. With the leg held in position so that its outer corner is flush with the table frame, carefully mark the position of the hinge attachment screws on the underside of the table frame.
  24. Drill one hole for a one hinge attachment set screw and attach the hinge in position to confirm it is correctly positioned. Once happy, drill the other two holes, and repeat on the other side for the second hinge.
  25. This is how the each hinge’s three 50mm CSK *(countersunk head) 5mmØ set screws are used to secure the hinge to the table top. It has to be done this way because there is no space to drive in the hinge attachment screws that come supplied with the hinge, due to the angle that the leg makes with the underside of the frame – namely about 30°.
  26. This shows the three hinge 50mm CSK *(countersunk head) 5mmØ set screws and washers protruding through from the underside of the frame. So their holes are drilled out using a 10mmØ bit and the nuts are tightened so that they are pulled right into the frame. Then the rest of the set screw sticking out is broken off by being worked back and forth a few times, or cut off, flush or below the frame’s upper surface, so that the table top will rest properly on the frame. Once that is done the table base can be glued to the frame. If you have cut it all very accurately, it will slot in snugly within the frame with no gaps on any side.
  27. To brace one pair of legs – those that would be further from where the user is sitting, we routed out a 12x44mm recess in leg 50mm from the end and used two 40mm screws and glue to fix the 470mm brace in position. This was very effective in stopping the table moving from side to side.
  28. This is how the recess fitted the brace – here we are using an offcut to check the fit is really tight.
  29. We attached a sliding blot of the underside of the frame on each side and then drilled a 7mmØ hole through the end of each leg aligned exactly with the bolt shaft. This held the bolt shaft snugly and also locked the leg against the bottom of the table frame.
  30. We finished off with a sanding of all surfaces followed by three costs of varnish, lightly sanding after the first and second coats for a very smooth finish.

The table folded away when not in use and opened up, ready for use.


These materials are available at Selected Mica Stores. To find out which is your closest Mica and whether or not they stock the items required, please go to www.mica.co.za, find your store and call them. If your local Mica does not stock exactly what you need they will be able to order it for you or suggest an alternative product or a reputable source.

Project guide

  • TIME: 4 days
  • COST: R300
  • Skill: 4
  • Assistant: No 

Tools required:

Jigsaw, compound mitre saw, craft knife, random orbital sander, cordless or mains drill/driver.