September 6, 2013

DIY Friday: Bento Box Cheese Tray Tutorial

A few weeks ago Pippa Armbrester, a contributor at Buzzfeed, asked me to create a DIY project for Buzzfeed. She requested a DIY cheese board that looks fresh, fun, and modern. I was pretty excited about the whole thing until I realized that it was harder than I expected. Since I can't come up with any unique ideas, I was worried that I might have to pass up the opportunity to be featured on Buzzfeed. Not ready to throw in the towel, I wonder the wood aisles at my local craft store and came upon a wooden memory tray. The first thought that came into my head was a bento box, so I decided to do a bento box inspired cheese tray where the cheese, salami, crackers, and olives each have their own individual compartments. Since most bento box has an array of colors, I decided to throw in a few pop of colors and a geometric shape to modernize it.

- Memory tray

- DecoArt outdoor patio paint in Fiesta Yellow, Blue Bahama and Coral Sunset
- Zinsser's Shellac spray
- Angle oil painting brush
- Small piece of 150 grit fine sandpaper
- A piece of newspaper
- A straight edge and pencil

1. Using your straight end and pencil, draw a diagonal line inside each square.
2. Apply the paint to each of the triangles and the inner side panels that the triangle is touching. Apply 2-3 coat of each color in order to capture the vibrancy.
3. Using your sandpaper, sand off any paint stains that you’ve left behind. Then clean off any sand that is left on the surface so it’s ready for shellac.
4. Spread out the newspaper and place the tray in the center. Take the shellac and apply as directed. Let it dry for a few hours before you start serving.

I would like to point out two things. First, shellac will shield the tray from water but it’s not waterproof, so wipe clean once you are done using the tray. Second, the geometric pattern that I used was a 90 degree triangle in each square combine with the following paint pattern. Starting with the triangle in the top left square, follow this pattern: Top Row: Blue Bahama —> Coral Sunset —> Fiesta Yellow. Middle Row: Coral Sunset —> Blue Bahama —> Coral Sunset. Bottom Row: Fiesta Yellow —> Coral Sunset —> Blue Bahama. You can also create your own pattern. The possibilities are endless when you start mixing shapes and colors. I was surprised by how well this project turned out and super excited to see that my picture was used for the thumbnail on the "5 Gorgeous DIY Cheese Boards To Impress Your Guests".

Bento Box Cheese Tray 1Bento Box Cheese Tray 2Bento Box Cheese Tray


  1. AnonymousJune 19, 2014

    Is this actually food-safe? I'm not sure about the paint, treated wood, or shellac. Please lay my fears to rest!

  2. Sorry for the late respond. Unfortunately, I don't a definitive answer for you as to whether it is 100% food-safe. I did do the research prior to doing this project and I looked at all of the options that were out there. I found that shellac was the only one that clearly stated on their label that it is "food-safe" so that was why I went with it. But if you are apprehensive about serving food on it then I recommend lining the bottom of the tray with wax paper instead of placing the food directly on it. I hope this lay some of your fear to rest.