Sofa Arm Tray with Easy Box Joints


If you have a sofa or chair with large stuffed arms, you know how tempting it is to balance a drink on them. Unfortunately, this often leads to unfortunate spills. This week’s project offers a great solution: the sofa arm tray. It’s similar to a TV tray, but handier to use; just slide it over an arm.

Sofa Arm Tray

Box joints: the easy way!

The main feature of this sofa arm tray is the box joints, or at least what may seem like box joints. I suppose technically they are box joints, just constructed differently. Instead of using some sort of box joint jig on the table saw, these are simple a bunch of wood strips, staggered and glued together to interlock.

I made all of my strips 1″ (25mm) wide, but you could make them any width you like. To make it even simpler, use off-the-rack lumber from the home center and you will only need to crosscut them to length.

For me, this was a good opportunity to use the crosscut sled I made in last week’s show.


I glued and clamped up the pieces for the top, alternating sizes to create the box joints.


I found that it made sense to glue on the individual side pieces one at a time. I think if I were to build another sofa arm tray I would try completely assembling the two sides, then attaching them to the top like a regular box joint.


It was kind of tedious, but worked out in the end.


After a lot of sanding, I rounded over all the sharp edges using a roundover bit on my router. You can use a sander to ease over the edges if you don’t have a router.


I finished mine with Danish Oil. It’s easy to apply and looks great.



Free Plans



  1. Would have loved it if you did “fake box joints” for looks and used pocket holes for the actual joint. 😀 Just to mess with Mattias.

  2. Have been watching your videos and am thinking about setting up a “micro” shop, as I live in an apartment with no storage space and am thinking about using the “table top” versions of the major power tools. I enjoy watching you building your projects and am planning to do a few (at this time the arm rest trays and the sofa tray). Keep up the good work.

    • I think there are a lot of us who are apartment woodworkers. I have to carry my table saw out on the patio when I want to cut anything and I blow everything off with the shop vac before i bring it back inside lol


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