Designers Your Home

Craft a Coastal Tic-Tac-Toe Board & Serving Tray

Editorial, photos and video by Skaie Knox, HomeJelly

With summer quietly approaching, the thoughts of hanging out and relaxing with family and friends has inspired today’s how-to: a coastal-style tic-tac-toe board and serving tray.

This crafty and multi-purpose DIY project is something you’ll be proud to present. Offer guests a simple, conversation-friendly game with whimsical, resin* starfish “X’s” and sand dollars “O’s” or, on the flip side, a nautical-inspired tray to serve wine and cheeses…or whatever suits your culinary fancy!  

Follow these step-by-step instructions to create something special – a perfect way to add “by-the-sea” functional fun to your home’s summer or coastal decor.


1” x 15 ½” x 15 ½” wood piece

¼” x 1 ½” x 6’ batten

P60 and P120 sandpaper

wood glue

¾” brad nails

wood putty

¼” painters tape

small paint brushes


wood stain

clear coat polyurethane OR beeswax + mineral oil mix

(2) brass cleats

(2-4) wood clamps

*To be ecologically mindful, opt for purchasing cruelty-free starfish and sand dollars – see links below. They look fantastic and allow sea creatures to remain in their natural habitats.


circular saw

hand sander

miter saw

brad nailer

Optional: drill





Cut List:

(1) 1” x 15 ½” x 15 ½” wood piece (Game + Tray piece)

(4) ¼” x 1 ½” x 15 ½” beveled batten pieces (Trim)

(5) ¼” x 1 ½” x 15 ½” batten pieces (Tray top)

(2) ¼” x 2 ½” x 15 ½” batten pieces (Tray top)

(6) ¼” x ½” x 15 ½” batten pieces (Tray top)


  1. Cut tray and trim wood pieces.

a) Cut your 1” x 15 ½” x 15 ½” tray wood piece FIRST. You can either use a circular saw, miter saw or have the folks at your box store cut your piece to size. BE SURE to tell them to please cut accurately!

TIP! Look to see if you have any 1” thick scrap wood at home or at your box store “scrap piles” (ask store representative for theirs).

b) Next, using your miter saw, cut four (4)  ¼” x 1 ½” x 15 ½” batten pieces for your trim with a 45° bevel cut on both ends.

TIP! For accuracy, first make a 45° bevel cut on one end, then hold it onto the edge of your wood piece, aligning the SHORT side’s beveled edge to the right corner’s edge of your wood piece. Next, place a mark onto the batten piece at the edge of the left corner of the wood piece – then make an opposite 45° bevel cut from the mark away.

Repeat for all four batten pieces.

  1. Sand all pieces of wood super smooth. First use the P60 sandpaper for any rough edges, then finish sanding with P120.
  2. Add Tic-Tac-Toe lines.

a) Flip over your board, then tape off the outer edge of your board using ¼” painters tape.

b) Mark two lines horizontally and vertically (a hashtag!). Measure 5 ⅛” between each line. Note: I left a ¾” space between the hashtag lines and the outer border for a decorative effect.

c) Place a ¼” piece of painters tape over each line.

d) Stain or paint entire surface. If staining, use a soft cloth to apply, then wipe excess for an even look. Allow to dry. Note: I used a dark and light stain to create a checkered (and more interesting) design. Allow to dry.

  1. Cut and attach decorative batten pieces. Feel free to use whatever design you wish. Here, I used a nautical stripe design inspired by an oar. TIP! Clamp down your tray wood piece to avoid it from moving out of place while attaching batten pieces.

a) Starting with one side, measure, mark, then cut piece to size. Check to see that it is flush to both sides.

b) Add wood glue to batten piece, place onto tray wood piece, then attach with brad nailer – 2 – 3 nails should do it.

c) Continue with the next pieces, placing them next to the last piece, mark, then make cuts. TIP! Measure each piece, as your board may not be perfectly square.

d)For inside batten pieces, do NOT add glue until the LAST piece has been placed! This is IMPORTANT! If you have any leftover space at the end, you can space out your batten pieces to cover completely. Note: these are different instructions than on the video – I learned through this DIY, that it’s better to wait to glue until you’ve finished cutting all the pieces.

e) Add wood glue, then attach with brad nailer. 2-3 nails should do it!

  1. Add wood filler to nail holes, then sand smooth. If there are any really rough edges, use P60 sandpaper. To finish, sand using P120.

Tip! I found it easier to sand smooth the wood AFTER I attached it. For a very neat finish, use painters tape to paint each slat. If you wish to weather/sand your pieces after painting, don’t worry about taping off, as it could look even more interesting with overlaps of other colored paint.

  1. Paint tray top. You can use stain, paint or leave it as is. See free downloadable PDF on HomeJelly for the design we used in this project.

OPTIONAL for layered paint effect:

a) First paint a layer of white, then allow to dry at least overnight-VERY IMPORTANT!

b) Next, paint your colors as you wish. NOTE: this should be a light coat. If you wish to keep natural wood on some of the slats, tape off and do not paint. Allow to dry.

c) I added a lifeguard tower number for added coastal flair (“17” is my BFF’s favorite Long Beach tower). Here’s how::

a) Print out any number you wish onto paper (I used font: Brim Narrow).

b) Then, on the back, scribble white chalk to cover the number.

c) Place the number, chalk-side down onto the tray, then trace with a pencil.

d) Finish by painting any color you wish.

e) VERY IMPORTANT! Allow to dry at least 4 hours (or overnight) before next step.

  1. Sand to weather tray top, then finish with light stain.

a)Using P120 sandpaper, gently sand to expose some bits of wood underneath.

b) Apply light stain to give your tray depth and an antiqued effect.

c) Apply SAME stain to trim pieces. Allow to dry, approximately 30 mins.

  1. Attach trim.

a) Flip your board so the batten tray top side is up. Then clamp onto your work table.

b) Add wood glue to the bottom and beveled edge of your trim piece.

c) Place the SHORT side of your ¼” x 1 ½” x 15 ½” beveled batten piece against the EDGE of your tray, making sure the bottom of the batten piece is flush with the bottom of your tray.

d) Brad nail into place. 3-5 nails should do it.

e) Repeat on all sides, making sure the beveled corners are lined up.

9) Sand corners to smooth out any rough edges.

  1. Spray on 1-2 coats of clear coat polyurethane. Allow to dry.
  2. Attach cleats. Note: I spray painted mine brass, as they were originally black.

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