Monday, January 16, 2012

How to make a tray to organize your supplies

When I ended organizing my desk, I was left with these open paper trays.


These are great, but I have lots of "bits" that need a home, and not so much letter sized paper (that already has a home in different places).  The container store sells trays, but they have dividers in the middle and I wanted something custom sized.  So, I made my own!



Start by getting a knife, some book board, and a ruler.

Cut a base to the size you want, and sides that are the height that you want. The long sides are the same length as the finished tray. The short sides are shorter by the thickness of two boards.  I also cut a third short "side" to act as a divider in the tray.

Using a small amount of bookbinding glue, place glue on the bottom of a long side, and glue to the edge.  Make sure that it is square (thanks for the square, dad!).

Now, glue the short sides.  For the divider piece, I used two acrylic rulers to make sure the piece was straight.

Glue the final long side on, and you have a raw tray.  Note that it won't be terribly stable at this point, so treat it gently!  It will be more sturdy after it's fully dried, and after you wrap it with paper.

In order to wrap this tray, you will either need large paper, or piece together several pieces.  Since I don't envision these trays lasting for generations, I didn't mind if the paper was pieced.  I picked Tim Holtz' Lost and Found paper stack because I love the vintage look.  I did some measuring ahead of time to make sure the the short sides would not be pieced - these are the sides that show.  Draw a horizontal line on the paper so you can easily line the tray up along a straight edge, and a line on the tray so you know where to glue.

Apply glue to the tray, and carefully line up on the paper.  I pre-scored the paper, since I know where I want the corner to be.


Score on the second corner, and continue wrapping.


Start a new piece of paper, and keep going around.


On the bottom of the tray, cut a narrow "v" at every corner, and remove the "v."

Fold the flaps over on each side and burnish nicely, being gentle with your tray.


On the open size of the tray, make straight cuts at each corner.  Make your cut away from the corner, at a distance equal to the thickness of one board. Place a fair amount of glue on this strip - let it sit for a moment to soften the piece of paper.

Using a bone folder, gently, but firmly, work the paper into the corners.


Fold any flap that does not intersect the divider into the tray. Scoring the paper and working it a little bit before applying glue is a good idea, but I also wasn't horribly concerned about getting perfectly square corners - these are storage trays, not a jewelry box.

Make a straight cut in paper at the middle of the divider. Stop cutting just a bit before the tray edge so the uncut paper will fold flat along the top edge of the long side.

Fold and glue each flap into the tray.

Take a piece of paper the width of the tray and fold and glue it over the divider.

It's sort of like magic, because the corners look great where the divider meets the sides of the tray.

Cover the bottoms and the back of the tray with paper.


I made several of these in different shapes and sizes to slide in and out of the landscape letter trays (see them on the right).  I'm also experimenting, and I like these trays three high, so I'm going to buy some more as soon as I can find another sale at the Container Store.

I really like being able to customize my scrapbook storage.  If I need new sizes, I can make new ones later, or I can change them with different patterned papers later.  It's all up to me!  Do you have any custom storage solutions that you've used in your scrapping space?  I'd love to hear about them!

Here are some links to items used in this post:

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