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The Folding Party Tray
Here's a great project to help you be prepared for those upcoming Summertime deck or patio parties. Plan your operations carefully and you should be able to make a half dozen of them in a single weekend!


Assemble each party tray using the hardware listed in the Bill of Materials. Use glue or not, as you see fit. If you do chose to use glue to reinforce the trays - and you're planning to use the trays in an outdoor environment -- be sure to use a weatherproof glue such as TiteBond II.

Begin by assembling the two leg sets with 2-1/4" carriage bolts, locking cap nuts, washers and spacers. Tap the bolt heads gently into the counterbore to seat the square shanks and prevent bolt rotation during tightening. Be sure to leave enough “play” for the leg sets to pivot smoothly without wobbling when tightening. Connect the two leg sets together by attaching the upper (D) and lower (B) braces to the legs with #8 x 1-1/2" flathead wood screws, as shown. Insert and glue the dowel brace (E), as shown. NOTE: Take care to be sure the leg sets are “square” when assembled.

Attach the assembled leg sets to the skirts using two 1-1/2" carriage bolts, flat washers and cap nuts…again, being careful to leave enough “play” for smooth operation without wobbling. Slide the bolts through from the inside of the skirts out and tap the bolt heads gently into the counterbore to seat the square shanks and prevent bolt rotation during tightening.

Assemble the top by laying the boards (H) on a flat surface and spacing them 1/8" apart with scraps of 1/8" masonite or corrugated cardboard. Use your assembled leg set to carefully position the skirts (G) and brace locks (F). Drop your #8 x 2" roundhead wood screws into the pre-drilled holes in your skirts and tap their heads gently by using a nailset or pin punch to mark the locations for screw pilot holes in the undersides of your top boards (H). Use your drill press and a 3/32" twist drill to bore 1/2" deep pilot holes at all marked positions.

TIP: To be sure everything fits together properly, remove one top board at a time to drill these holes, then return it to your assembly area before drilling another top board. After drilling all of your pilot holes, return the skirts (G) to their appropriate positions and screw them to the top boards (H) from the underside using #8 x 2" roundhead wood screws and flat washers (use glue or not, it's your choice).

Screw the brace locks (F) into position inside the (inside) legs at the edge of the top opposite the side where the top leg pivot bolts attach through the skirts (G). See the photo of the woman holding the folded tray for reference. Use #8 x 2" roundhead screws with washers for the radiused ends of the brace locks (F), and #8 x 1" flathead wood screws for the notched ends.

Sand and finish each tray as you see fit. Happy partying !


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