Tuesday, May 17, 2011

an industrial spin on the tiered tray [a tutorial]

i am a fan of tiered trays.  i especially like them for the efficiency and space savings they offer.  which is why i have been happy to see so many fun tutorials on how to make them.  

after taking a look at several tutorials, i started thinking about how i could build one that would suit my style: simple, modern, functional.  

i took a quick stroll through the nuts and bolts aisle at Home Depot to see what i could put together.  it's not for everyone; i love it!  and here's how to make your own! 

 here's what you'll need for a two-plate serving tray:

  • 2 melamine plates (of different sizes)
  • 7 inch length of all thread (the center post) (5/16")
  • 1 eye bolt (for the handle on top) (5/16")
  • 3 nuts (5/16") i chose square nuts instead of hex
  • 3 coupling nut (couplers) (5/16" by 7/8")
  • drill 
  • hack saw
  • pliers
  • adhesive rubber bumpers (for bottom)

i don't show an eye bolt in this pic, sorry.

drill holes in your plates.  

  1. first, mark the center of both plates.  to do this, apply a few layers of blue painter's tape to the approximate center on the top and the bottom.  
  2. measure, mark, and drill with a multi-purpose or wood bit.  we (hubby and i) determined drilling from the top leaves a cleaner hole on top.  drill holes in both plates. 
your mark should be the center of the plate.  this one was off-set.

don't worry about a few small chips. they'll likely be covered by a nut or coupler.

step two:
prepare your hardware.  

  1. eye bolts come in specific lengths, all which are too long for this project.  use a hack saw to cut it to length.  you'll want the threads to be about 1/2 the length of your coupler.  
  2. determine the distance you want between your plates.  add half the length of your coupler and the height of your nut (remember to account for the thickness of your plate). then saw the all thread to the proper length. if you're off by a fraction of an inch, no big deal...this measurement is forgiving.
  3. damage the threads on about an eighth of an inch at the end of your all thread by carefully tapping with a hammer.  this will keep the bottom nut from unscrewing. you could also add a drop or two of glue to keep them secure.   

this is my husband sawing the all thread; same procedure to use on the eye bolt.

step three:

in this order from the bottom:  nut, plate, nut, coupler, coupler, nut, plate, coupler, eye bolt

2.  place the bottom plate on the all thread and work it all the way down to the nut. screw on a nut, followed by a coupler.  tighten them to hold the plate securely.

3.  screw on another coupler to the height where you want the top plate.  add a nut, then the top plate.  screw on another coupler.  you should have about half the threads left inside the coupler.

4.  tighten the couplers around the top plate.

5.  screw on the eye bolt and tighten.

the coupler and eye bolt after assembly.

step four

add rubber grips to the bottom so the tray will be level.  i guess they call them 'vinyl bumpers'.  these are nice and thick and adhesive.  they add stability to the tray as well.  i have been carefully hand washing and drying these trays to keep them looking beautiful.    

i picked these up at home depot.
and there you have it!  a do-it-yourself 'industrial' version of the super-popular tiered tray (for only around $10)!  

Todays Creative Blog

Tip Junkie handmade projects


  1. This is awesome. Love the idea of using HD hardware. This one's going on my to-do list. I've pinned you to my Pinterest board!

  2. My first job was at a hardware store. I have probably spent weeks out of my life sorting nuts, bolts, couplers, and the like. Thanks for giving me something to do with that long unused knowledge. I am your newest follower. Come over to Greetings From the Asylum and follow me too!

  3. Wow SO much cuter and funkier than store bought ones!

  4. I LOVE this!! I pinned it so I won't forget how to make it :-)

  5. Love love love.... I want one like this but never found of my choice but now I can go for some of my favourite plates... thank you so much Jamie for the tute ... your new follower too
    Hope you like to visit and love to feel the beauty and fragrance of flowers at

  6. Love it! I have pinned you as well!



    $25 shop credit giveaway to Flair Designery! Ends 5/22 http://bit.ly/iHR1XK

  7. What a clever idea! Bookmarking this one.

  8. I LOVE it!!!! You have been pinned AGAIN!!!! ;0)

  9. wow, I may actually make one of these now. Love the mod feel <3

  10. Love these! And love how many different plate sizes, colors, shapes you can combine to make a unique tray. Great tutorial!

  11. This stopped me in my tracks - major awesomeness! I also pinned you and now have another project on my To-Do list :)

    New follower for sure!!!!

  12. Love this! My husband accidentally broke my glass tiered tray on monday so I'll have to get him to help me make one of these to make up for it :)

  13. I love love love this!! I am visiting from Somewhat Simple and I would LOVE if you would kindly link up this awesome idea to my very FIRST Delicately Constructed Fridays; a crafty linky party that starts tomorrow!
    Please :)
    Have a great day!!

  14. These are so fresh! I have a few tiers from the 50's, but I hate to use them for everyday. This solves my dilemma. Thank you for sharing!

  15. This is so clever! I love how personalized you can get with this idea!

  16. Awesome! I used those striped plates to make one with a candlestick from the Dollar Tree. But I don't totally love it. I might have to try & pry off the E6000 & try that instead!

  17. That is so smart!!! I love them!!!

  18. OOOH I luv this will be perfect for Summer backyard party.
    Would luv for our readers to follow this tutorial.
    Please add this to our linking party.

  19. I've been wanting to do something like this for awhile now. Thanks for the tutorial! These look great!

  20. What a great idea to use hardware! I've made my own tiered tray borrowing the metal parts from a tired worn out specimen, but I love that I could now make one from scratch! Guess what my sisters will be getting for birthdays?! Thanks for the tutorial (found you on Flamingo Toes)

  21. Hi, Jamie - I LOVE your modern take on this! have seen tons that are cutesy (okay, I love those, too) but yours is so sleek and cool! Great tutorial, wow, I know what a lot of work it must have been - thanks!

  22. Love it! I am going to have to give this one a try!!

  23. I love these!! Thanks so much for sharing the tutorial, I'll definitely be trying this.

  24. I just wanted to let you know that I am featuring this on Sassy Sanctuary today. Love it!

  25. Very pretty. I love the plates you chose and the easy to understand instructions. It looks like something even I could do. :)

    Stumbled this post, btw.

    Tracy Screaming Sardine

  26. Great tutorial and tips, and I love the trays. so bright and fun!

  27. Where did you buy the gorgeous plates in you three tiered tray?


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