North Carolina State Capital Rustic Tray


Are you proud of your hometown? Want to let everyone know where you reside? Browse 30 fabulous ideas for decorating or celebrating your home state (or town!) Start the cross-continental tour in Indiana at Infarrantly Creative and let each blogger guide you along the route. Best of all, you fly FREE! 😉

If you’ve made your way around the US and came over from The Graphics Fairy in Maryland, Welcome! (East Coast represent!)

Here is today’s State Pride Week line up in case you missed anyone:

  • Maryland – Karen @ The Graphics Fairy
  • North Carolina – Brittany @ Pretty Handy Girl – You’ve Arrived!!!
  • Kentucky – Traci @Beneath my Heart
  • Tennessee – Gina @ Shabby Creek Cottage
  • Michigan – Chris @ Just a Girl
  • Illinois – Jennifer @ Jennifer Rizzo
  • Wisconsin – Amanda @ Crafts By Amanda

And you can always check out the full line up. Today, I’ll be showing you how to make a rustic tray (or shadow box art) with your favorite city, state or map inside!



  • Color Printer (I use the Epson R2000 which prints up to 13″ wide)
  • Paper
  • x-acto knife
  • Metal ruler
  • 9.5″ x 11″ plywood board for base
  • Scrap 1″ x 3″ boards
  • Miter saw
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Clamps
  • Hammer
  • Ear protection
  • Eye protection
  • Wood glue
  • Clear caulk
  • Sheet of glass or plexiglass cut to size of base
  • Nailhead trim nails
  • Minwax Early American stain
  • Foam brush
  • Clean rag
  • Wet wipes
  • Sander
  • Finish nailer
  • 1.25″ finish nails
  • Windex (or glass cleaner)
  • Paper towels

Optional: Scrap of pegboard, circular saw (or other power saw).



Visit that turns maps into works of art! Simply enter your city, state or favorite location and watch as it instantly turns into a watercolor drawing! When you have the view you want, download the graphic to your computer.

If you wish, you can play with the hue and saturation of your image in your photo editing software.


For fun and more graphic interest, I added “Raleigh, NC” (using Sketch Block font) and the global coordinates for my capital city. Plus, the date Raleigh was founded. (All available at Wikipedia.)


Print your map onto paper and use the x-acto knife and metal ruler to cut out the map.


Cut out a piece of plywood (or board) the same dimension as your map. (I used a circular saw and the Kreg Rip Cut, but you can use a table saw, jig saw or have Lowe’s cut a board for you.) Sand the board to remove any splinters.


Check your map printout against the base and trim the map if needed.


Cut one end of a 1×3″ board at a 45 degree angle using the miter saw. (Never used a miter saw before? Watch this video tutorial to learn how to use a miter saw.)


Line the board up against the plywood base. (Line up the inside of the 45 degree angle at one corner.) Make a mark where the other corner meets the 1×3.


Cut the 1×3 at an opposing 45 degree angle, lining up the saw with your inside angle mark. Continue marking and cutting your 1×3 boards to create the sides of your tray.


Dry fit the sides against the base. Make any adjustments to get a tight fit. Run a line of wood glue along the ends of the 1×3’s.


Run a bead of glue along the sides of the base piece.


Clamp the tray together making sure the base is flush with the bottom and all the sides meet.


Use the finish nailer to shoot 1.25″ finish nails into the corners of the tray. Then secure the base to the sides by shooting more nails through the sides into the base.


Stain the tray and base with a foam brush. Wipe off any excess with a dry rag or paper towels.


After the tray dries, use the pegboard scrap to mark even spots along the tray edge for the nailhead trim. Hammer nail heads into the edges of the tray.



Test fit your glass to make sure it fits in the bottom of the frame. Clean off the glass with window cleaner. Wipe off any lint.


Set your map print on the bottom of the tray. Lay the glass on top of the map.


Run a line of clear caulk along the edge of the glass. Wipe the caulk with a wet wipe to smooth and remove excess caulk.


Let the caulk set and then feel free to fill your tray! I use my tray in the kitchen to neatly hold our coffee supplies.


But, you could also add D-rings to the back of the tray and hang it as art!


I’m curious, where are you from? Or where do you call home? Don’t you think this would make a fabulous present for someone who is proud of their hometown?

Be sure to head on over to Kentucky to see Traci at Beneath My Heart and her State project!

On Monday, link up your own State Pride project at Infarrantly Creative!!



  1. The tray looks great! You did such a great job. I have a question, where did you get the pre-cut glass? How expensive is it to have a piece of glass cut to your dimensions?

    • Irina, well, truth be told, I had some glass in my attic that I stole from an ugly picture frame. I cut it with a glass scoring tool. But, you can buy glass cut to size at any home improvement store. The price shouldn’t be too expensive. Maybe under $5? It depends, and don’t hold me to that price, it’s been a while since I bought some.

  2. I love how you edited the map to look like that Brittany! What an awesome project, that box ROCKS!

  3. So, so cute, Brit!!! Love this idea!

  4. This really wood be a great hostess gift or housewarming gift. Sometimes, you can find historical maps online of areas which would really be a fun twist for a housewarming gift. Oo! And you can get local Native American tribes, etc. This could really be flexible and fun!

  5. What a great looking tray Brittany!! The nail head trim is a really nice touch too!

  6. Such a pretty project. Cool map site, thanks for the great post!

  7. I’m a native New Yawker and I love this tray! I’m thinking about suggesting to my extremely handy daughter, but I’m just curious to know how long did this take you to complete?

  8. Such a neat and simple idea! Looks great!

  9. Boasting your home town on a tray is such a cool idea. This gives me my next DIY project. Think I am going to record my travel sojourns on the map and hang it in my study soon.


  1. […] of you may be jumping over here from my buddy, Brittany’s {aka Pretty Handy Girl} blog.  […]

  2. […] sure you visit my friend Brittany over at Pretty Handy Girl next and check out her fabulous project as well, she’s the next stop on the […]

  3. […] North Carolina Rustic Tray from Pretty Handy Girl […]

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