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Sofa, so good

Measure, cut, draw and glue to build your own handy sofa arm tray with your DIY skills.

You will need

  • Tape measure
  • Pens or pencils
  • Rulers
  • Wood
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood glue

Before you begin

  • Make sure everyone has the equipment they need and knows how to safely use it.

Tip top tray

Put your DIY skills to use by making a handy wooden tray for the arm of your sofa. Great for holding cups, snacks or the remote controls and a great way to test out your DIY skills and attention to detail.

  1. Measure the width of the sofa arm and write this down. Measure the thickness of your piece of wood, double this measurement and add it on to the width of your sofa arm, this will be the width of the top of your tray.
  2. Mark out a rectangle on the piece of wood to be the tray surface using a pencil and a ruler. Two opposite sides should be the width measurement you created in step one; the remaining two opposite sides should be the length you want your tray to be. Make sure it isn’t too long to fit on the arm!
  1. Mark out two more rectangles onto the wood to be the sides of your tray. These should be the same length as the top of the tray, and around five centimetres wide.
  2. Place your piece of wood on a flat, sturdy surface and hold it down with one hand. Make sure the lines to be cut are hanging over the edge of the surface and cut along the lines carefully with a wood saw.
  1. After the three rectangles have been cut use some sandpaper to smooth any edges or sharp points made by cutting.
  2. Lay the top of the tray onto a flat surface, take one of the side pieces and place in onto the tray top so it is standing up on its long edge, and the outside edge lines up with the outside edge of the tray top.
  3. Repeat this with the other side piece on the opposite edge to create the final shape of your tray.
  1. Using a pencil, mark the position of the side pieces onto the tray top and set them to one side.
  2. Apply wood glue to where the side pieces were positioned, covering the area between the pencil lines and the outer edge of the tray top.
  1. Put the side pieces back in position and push them firmly into the wood glue.
  2. Place something heavy on top of the side pieces of your tray to hold them in place while the glue dries. A large book or heavy pair of shoes would work great.
  3. Once everything has dried, remove the weights, and use sandpaper to clean up any extra glue on your tray.
  1. Try out your brand-new sofa tray on the arm of your sofa!


This activity was all about developing skills and trying something new. What did you learn by making your stand? How did it feel to try something new? Maybe you were a bit unsure to start with, but you watched your confidence grow along with your skills. When else in life might it be important to get stuck into something new and build your confidence along the way?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

Glue and solvents

Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using glue and solvent products. Make sure there’s plenty of ventilation. Be aware of any medical conditions which could be affected by glue or solvent use and make adjustments as needed.