Mid-Century Modern Tray Table

If you’ve followed this channel for a while, then you’ll know that I’m a sucker for Mid-century modern style.  It has a vintage look that I love with generally darker colors and an organic flow.  Which all rolls into a perfect match for Krylon’s 2023 Color of The Year:  Spanish Moss.  The color  showcases the “power of green” it’s a shade that gives off a real “retro aesthetic” that inspired this build.  

Speaking of… on to the build!

I knew I wanted to use a metal basket as the topper of this table that I could pick up and take with me if I needed to load it up and bring it back.  So I scoured my local home good stores and came up with a tapered 12x12x6 wire basket.  The problem was it had a shiny stainless-steel finish.  That was an easy enough to fix as I picked up a can of Krylon Fusion All-In-One in black and Krylon Fusion All-In-On in Metallic Rose Gold to contrast the Spanish Moss.  The trick to get your metallic color to pop is to use a black base primer as that will cover the shiny finish and provide a surface to bring out a deep color in the rose gold, copper or brass.  This is similar as to how mirrors have a dark base before the reflective surface is applied on top.  With the basket painted, it’s time to build the corresponding table.  It should be noted that if your basket is a different size, you’ll need to adjust your inner dimensions. 

With the basket being 6” tall I wanted the final height (with basket) being between 28”-30” or countertop height.  That height dictates everything on the build.  You’ll also notice that I used 1” thick stock on the build and not your standard ¾” thick material you can get at your big box store.  The reason for that is because I used Maple Wood for the build.  Big box store pine or fir has a ton of moisture in it that requires several weeks to dry out before painting.  And I knew I was going to be painting this.  So I chose to use maple which I knew would be dry and takes paint very well.  Another great option would be poplar. 

On a table saw with a jig, I did taper my legs with the angle on the inside.  That’s not important, neither is having a table saw jig (you can make a jig out of scrap or use a circular saw and guide edge).  Ultimately, the legs are 22” tall with a 3” wide top tapered down to a 1-1/2” foot.  However, initially I left the legs longer and figured out what angle I needed to cut the bottom and top of the leg and the angle of taper by laying them on a piece of cardboard and tracing out my design.

With the legs cut, I used a round over bit with my router and rounded over all four long sides.  I did stop before reaching the top of the leg on the backside of each leg as seen above.  Aesthetically, I wanted the top of the leg that meets the basket frame to sit flush. 

For one side of the basket frame, I cut a piece of stock to just over 16” long and 4” wide (I left it a little longer than my 14” to have space to work with).  Again, 1” thick.  I then set my miter saw to the angle I wanted which was roughly 10° and cut as close to the top corner on one side as possible.  I then marked ¾” and cut that angled sliver off that you can see in yellow above.  I then cut one more ¾” off and then flipped the board to the other side and cut another 10° angle.  You ultimately want the widest end to end point to be 12-1/2” wide as pictured in the salmon color above.   On my table saw, I set the width between the fence and the blade to 1” and cut the top portion off pictured in salmon above.  I then set my width between the saw blade and the fence to 2” and cut the orange portion off.  There are a pair of these, so repeat this step.

I then cut two more pieces shown in blue above to 2” by 11-1/2” for the cross supports.  Glue the pair of basket frames together and let them dry.  If you have any gaps, patch with wood filler or wood glue and sawdust.  The color match doesn’t have to be perfect as we’re going to paint this. 

Before attaching the legs, I assembled the basket frame pieces using those two 11-1/2” x 2” cross braces.  I left a 6” space in between braces and allowed them to dry. 

Once the basket frame was assembled, I used the same round over bit and rounded all the outer edges of the trapezoid.  Be careful and conscious of your routing direction as going the wrong way can cause some major chipping or worse. 

When it comes to attaching the legs, this is where all that mockup portion pays off or brings you to tears.  With my legs 22” tall and 3” wide on the top taper, I centered and spaced the legs 3-1/2” apart on the outer side of the leg braces.  There’s a 1” space between the outside of the leg and trapezoid frame.

I then found a flat surface and attached the legs with wood glue and clamps.  Most importantly, I made sure the tops of the legs sat flush with the cross braces and all sat flat on the floor.  You’ll need to make any micro-adjustments at this step before you move on to make sure your whole table sits flat on the ground. 

Just for extra rigidity, I cut a pair of 2” x 8” leg braces and rounded over the longer outside edges.  I then marked 4-1/2” from the bottom and attached the leg braces to each pair of legs. 

You can tilt the braces to match the angle of the leg or use a square and attach them perpendicular to the ground like I did. Use wood glue and clamps and let it dry.  While the table glue up is drying, you can go back and fill in any gaps with wood filler and sand any rough spots.  Because next… you’re painting.

Here comes the star of the show with our Krylon 2023 Color of the Year, Spanish Moss!  It’s a matte finish and went on nice and smooth especially with a wood like maple that really takes on paint.

It ended up taking me just two coats for complete coverage.  And honestly, if I hadn’t missed a few areas because of how bright the sun was, I probably could have gotten away with one.  

My sanding job wasn’t perfect, and I had a few stray fibers that needed cleaning up, so ultimately, I ended up using a can and a half on this project.  But the real question is… how did it turn out??

First off, the Krylon Fusion All-in-One in Metallic Rose Gold on the basket was a great option for contrasting the green of the Spanish Moss. Plus for a bar cart… I prefer the darker stuff, so it goes well with the darker spirits in those bottles.  But seeing as we have a bunch of kids around the house, we put away the booze for now…

And we are using this as a plant stand!  In the end, this was a fun little project that I honestly could have just as easily built with walnut wood (shocker I know).  But the vintage green tones of the Spanish Moss add a pop of color where I would have leaned heavily on the darker wood.  The angled basket frame complement and tapered metal basket and alternating positioning of the angled legs provide a nice contrast to the frame.  I hope you enjoyed this build and the unveiling of the Krylon 2023 Color of the Year!

~Lazy Guy

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