Turn an old wooden tray into a beautiful nautical display piece with this easy tutorial for how to make a nautical DIY map tray from an old map.
Today I’m going to show you how to make an easy nautical DIY map tray from an old beat-up one I was planning on throwing away.
Hi Kenarry readers, it’s Lori from Greco Design Company. Trays are such a versatile decor element and can be used for so many different purposes. Of course they can be used as a serving piece, but trays are also a great way to display or organize items in almost any room of our homes. And they can add such visual interest too.
How to Make a Nautical DIY Map Tray
This project is perfect if you have an old wooden tray but if not, search the clearance aisles at your local home decor stores. Often you can find ones that are dented, scratched or just an odd color – and those will work to make a DIY map tray too!
What you need:
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- As I mentioned, an old wooden tray works best for this project, but if you don’t have one, you can often find a discounted one at any local home decor store. The tray just needs to have a flat, untextured surface.
- map, or scrapbook paper in a nautical theme.
- Paint in your desired color
- Spray Mount Adhesive
- Mod Podge
- An old paintbrush
- Scissors or an X-acto knife
- Felt furniture pads
1. Sand and prep your tray.
If your tray has any dents or scratches, you can fill them in with this wood filler. Let the filler dry and then lightly sand the entire tray to prep it for painting. Unfortunately I forgot to take my before picture! But check out the image below and you can get a sense of how badly this tray looked!
2. Paint your tray.
Paint the DIY tray your desired color. My tray was a dark wood color so I used a coat of white paint to help cover the wood and then two coats of gray paint. You don’t need to paint the entire tray surface because you’ll be applying your map there, but make sure you paint a bit onto the surface so none of the original color shows through.
3. Find your map
While the paint is drying, find a map that will fit the surface of your tray. My tray is 17.5″ x 20″. I found my map at a free online service. It wasn’t the exact size I needed but I could cut it down to fit nicely. You can also find maps at many office supply stores, home decor stores, and even at your local AAA office. Alternatively, you can use nautical scrapbook paper found at most art supply stores. If you download artwork online, you’ll need to print it out at the size you need. Or you can bring the file to any copy center and they can print it for you.
I think what makes this piece extra special is that the map is of a place that’s very meaningful to our family. My husband and I got married on Cape Cod, my parents now live there, we go there several times a year, and this map reminds us of so many great memories.
4. Attach your map
Spray a generous amount of the adhesive to the back of your map and attach it to the surface of the tray. Smooth out any bubbles or bumps.
5. Coat the map with the Mod Podge
Paint a generous coat of Mod Podge on the map tray, being careful not to rip the paper. Let the Mod Podge dry – the thick coat will take a while to dry but be patient and don’t try to rub it in.
I use Mod Podge because even though it’s considered a glue, it also acts like a protective sealer. And this is great for a tray, especially for spills, or if it’s going to be in an area where there’s water. Like my kids’ bathroom!
It took several hours to fully dry so be patient!
6. Add the felt pads to your nautical DIY map tray
This isn’t a necessary step but some trays can damage the surface they’re placed on. So I find it best to place small felt furniture pads on the bottom of the tray in each corner to protect any piece the map tray is on.
Now you have an interesting, unique nautical DIY map tray that can be used for so many purposes.
I love how this one looks now and it serves as both a decorative element in the space and a catch all for all our bathroom toiletries.
I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe you have an old tray that you want to resurrect and will try this technique
Be sure to check out these other nautical related posts from my blog:
You may also enjoy these other map ideas on Kenarry:
- Home Sweet Home Art: 14 Home Art Ideas Using Maps or Quotes
- DIY Vintage-Style Hanging Map
- Gallery Style Map Wall
Lori is a freelance graphic designer living in the Boston area with her husband, their three kids and a yellow lab puppy. She started Greco Design Company in 2014 when she realized that her love for design was extending beyond the corporate advertising world and into all areas of her life. You’ll find she shares unique but simple DIY projects, gives some great ideas for home design, provides her outlook on current fashion trends, and loves to do beauty and product reviews. She incorporates her graphic design background through her free printables, paintings, signs, art prints, invitations and stationery on her blog and in her Etsy shop. Lori believes in the importance of surrounding ourselves with good, purposeful design that can help streamline our lives and still be affordable. Her tutorials are easy to follow as she shows how you can make anything you set your mind to!
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