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Easy DIY Nightstand Tray

I can’t believe it, this month my husband and I are celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary!

Every May as our wedding anniversary comes around, I get worried. What do you give the best husband ever for your anniversary?

This year I wanted to give my husband an amazing DIY anniversary gift. And this easy DIY nightstand tray has been such a hit!

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Vintage nightstand next to a bed with a wood tray holding a phone, earbuds, and watch on it.

After a long day at work, my husband comes home and empties out his pockets. He unloads his cell phone, earbuds, and pocket change onto the nightstand.

Where it sits until the next day when he loads his pockets again. He really needed a place to unload the day. Someplace to catch all his things until he needed them again.

This DIY nightstand tray is the perfect solution. I has a large compartment for a phone, and two smaller compartments for change, earbuds, a watch, or anything else he collects during the day.

Wood and leather nightstand tray with 3 compartments.

While the simple wood nightstand tray is nice, I decided to make it even better by adding a bit of leather!

The bottom of each compartment is finished off with a piece of leather. It makes a softer landing for all the things. Plus it looks really expensive.

But it was not, because I used old worn-out leather boots to get the leather for the wood tray!

DIY nightstand tray holding an iPhone, earbuds, change and a watch.

How to Make a Wood & Leather Nightstand Tray


  • 8″ x 9″ piece of 1/4″ plywood
  • 48″ piece of 1/4″ x 2″ board
    • These thin boards are sometimes called hobby boards at the home improvement store.
  • Wood glue
  • Painter’s tape
  • Stain and sealer
  • Pieces of leather
    • I used a pair of old worn out boots for my leather.

STEP 1- Cut the pieces

Cut your plywood to size.

Piece of plywood sitting on a table saw next to 1/4: thick boards.

From the 1/4″ x 2″ board cut:

  • (2) 9″ pieces
  • (2) 8 1/2″ pieces
  • (1) 8″ piece
  • (1) 4 1/4″ piece

Trim the 8″ and 4 1/4″ piece down to 1 3/4″ wide. I used my table saw to do this.

If you do not have access to a saw for ripping boards, you could buy a 1 1/2″ wide board for these inside pieces. They wouldn’t be flush to the top like my tray is, but they would still allow separation.

1/4" thick boards sitting on a table saw.

STEP 2- Assemble the tray

Apply a thin bead of wood glue to the 9″ edge of the plywood.

Line one of the 9″ pieces of board with the plywood so it is flush on the bottom. Hold the pieces tight together with painter’s tape.

Repeat on the opposite 9″ side.

Glueing one side of the nightstand tray to the bottom plywood.

Secure the 8 1/2″ boards to the other sides of the plywood the same way, but make sure to add wood glue to the sides of the 9″ boards as well.

“Clamp” with the painter’s tape.

All 4 sides of the tray glued to the bottom and being clamped with blue painters tape.

Now you have a beautiful tray.

It would be perfect this way, but I wanted to add some separators to help keep all my husband’s items super organized.

The outside of the tray fully glued together.

Glue the 8″ and 4 1/4″ board into the tray with the wood glue.

Add glue to all edges except the top to attach them securely. Hold them with tape until the glue dries.

Dividers glued into the tray being held with painters tape.

Let the glue dry, then remove the painter’s tape and sand.

Stain the sides of the tray. Then seal it to protect the wood. I used a simple clear spray coat.

Early Americana stain on the sides and top of the assembled tray.

STEP 3- Add leather

To give the tray a little cushion, and make it more masculine, I covered the bottom of the tray with leather.

I have been hanging onto these old boots for a few years now. The bottom of the boots are completely worn out and the soles have broken, but the leather on the top was still beautiful. So I kept them to use eventually.

Pair of old boots laying on a cutting mat.

Cut a piece of leather to fit into each of the tray compartments.

Square pieces of leather cut from old boots.

Glue the leather into the bottom of the tray.

I used hot glue so the glue would dry quickly. That way I could stretch the leather to lay flat in the bottom of the tray.

Wood nightstand tray with leather being hot glued into the bottom.
Finished tray with leather glued into the bottom but nothing inside it yet.

Now your new tray is ready to use!

Or to wrap it up to give as a DIY gift.

Close up of the DIY wood and leather nightstand tray holding items from the pockets.

My husband loves his new tray so much. It truly is the perfect anniversary gift for him.

Here’s to many more amazing years!

-Kati with picture of blog author Kati
Celebrate the man in your life with these perfect anniversary gifts for him. A DIY wood and leather nightstand tray for him to unload his pockets into. And to make it extra special, fill it with a beautiful wood watch so he will think of you whenever he checks the time. | Gifts for Dad | Gift Ideas for Him | DIY gift ideas | Men's Watch | DIY Nightstand Tray | DIYI Catchall Tray

johannes Megele

Monday 21st of October 2019

Love this site! Thanks for all the help!


Monday 11th of November 2019

Awe thanks Johannes :)


Friday 12th of May 2017

A rainbow anniversary sundial (a sun clock) for the window sill is a good idea, especially if you get a date line added to it that the time shadow will follow every year on the anniversary day. He'll never forget his anniversary with something like that in the house!


Friday 2nd of June 2017

That is a beautiful gift idea too! I love the subtle reminder of the date too ;)


Wednesday 10th of May 2017

Such a cute guy and love the watches, My son has one and its really great quality. Maria


Friday 2nd of June 2017

Thanks so much Maria! My husband loves his watch so much. It's beautiful!


Tuesday 9th of May 2017

Hi the wood watch and the caddy is perfect as a gift for guys. Thanks for the ideas.


Friday 2nd of June 2017

Thank you BonBon!

Claire | Heart Handmade UK

Monday 8th of May 2017

Hi Kati, that little nightstand caddy is super and would make a great project for any of the Misters in my life! x


Friday 2nd of June 2017

Thanks so much Claire! I agree, it would be perfect for any man :)

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