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If you need a place to rest your drink but don’t have a side table nearby, this quick and easy armrest tray table is a perfect fit for the arm of your sofa, couch, or chair.
On a quick trip to Lowe’s for some last-minute wood stain (coughcoughPinterestChallengecough), I also picked up slim pine boards that seemed juuuuuust the right length for sawing into thirds for another scrap wood project I’ve been meaning to try: a DIY wooden couch sleeve, aka a sofa arm table.
How to Make This Sofa Armrest Tray Table in 3 Easy Steps
1. Measure and cut pieces
All you need to do is measure the width of your chair and cut the side slats and top on a miter saw or table saw. Be sure to add about a quarter of an inch (for an easy fit over the chair or couch’s arm rest) plus the width of the sides to cut the top to the correct length. For the sake of stability, you don’t want to cut the top piece too too wide or it will shift around on the arm (think snug).
2. Secure pieces together
Glue and clamp the sides to secure the bottom two wooden planks to the top in a u-shape, and let dry.
3. Stain and poly
Then, add stain and poly to your liking. You can staple or use a few pin nails if you want to help the glue set, but I chose not to. I didn’t even miter the corners, and it still looks pretty great.
There are lots of options for different features to further enhance it if you want: chamfer or round over the corners, add a slot for your phone, route out a round circle on the top for holding your drink more securely, add a side pocket for the remote, add a hole or channel for a laptop or tablet cord, etc. There are a ton of customization options whether you’re planning to use it for relaxing or work, but the main feature is that it’s easy to use and you don’t need any extra floor space like you would for a side table.
This project takes all of ten minutes to set up and however long it takes to dry (check the back of the can of your stain and poly for that info). I made two of them for the living room, and my dad has been asking me to make some for him ever since! Theoretically, it can work well for even rounded couch sleeves as long as the sides are long enough to steady the sleeve on top of the armrest, but square arms work best. I’ve seen rounded versions for sale online too (especially on Etsy):
The fact that I picked up a perfectly good board for no other purpose than this means that it’s decidedly not a scrap wood project. However, you can still wait until you have scrap wood pieces from other projects to make it. I still call it a pinspired project since I found (and pinned) the idea several months ago. It’s just not technically a part of last week’s party.
I found even more motivation to go ahead and complete this project thanks to Merrypad, who shared her version recently. So not only was I pinning the original, I was now pinning her version which was also based on the one I first admired.
About here is where I stopped trying to make sense of whether this is a pin of a pin of a pin or ehhh …. whatever, my couch arm table (or is it a wooden sofa armrest table? no one seems to agree on an official name for this thing!) is done!
And still useful! Here’s an updated pic of my living space in 2016, and they are still in use! Whether with a morning cup of coffee or an evening glass of wine, the convenience is hard to beat.
P.S. Since this was originally posted, I was also asked whether you could use scrap plywood instead of solid wood: of course! You might have to be a little more careful with spills though if you don’t seal it well (plywood layers will expand if they are exposed to moisture and will look warped and won’t stay flat which kind of defeats the purpose of this simple design).
There are lots of things to do with scrap wood! Check out these ideas below (click on the image or the link to be taken to the tutorial).
Don’t let those cutoffs from bigger woodworking projects and home DIYs go to waste! Here are tons of ideas on how to reuse the scrap — you can make gifts, décor, and more!