Skip to main content

Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

DIY: Leather Catch-All Tray

Feb 27, 2019 11:00AM ● By Catherine Hunt

Catch Me If You Can

March 2019
Story and Photos by Monica Fatica 

This handy catch-all can be used as a valet tray on your dresser or nightstand to keep your personal items organized. Stash your spare change, keys and jewelry, or use it as an in-box in the home office for important papers and to-do lists.


Natural tooling leather (we used an 8½x11-inch piece)

Leather dye (we used dark brown)

Craft glue for leather

4 clothespins

Spray water bottle


Disposable craft paper

Gloves (optional)

Leather finish sealer (optional)

Tips: Choose a dye in the color of your choice or leave leather the natural color. If you prefer a square shape, you can cut down your leather or find one in the size you want. Personalize the inside of the tray by embossing initials, a word or date. 

1. Lay your tooling leather piece on top of the craft paper, then dampen it by spritzing both sides using your water bottle. This will make the leather more pliable. 

2. Dip your rag into the dye and begin applying it in even strokes onto one side of the leather until it’s completely coated. Repeat this for the other side. (This step is where some choose to use gloves to prevent stain from getting on their hands.) 

3. Fill in any uneven spots by lightly applying more dye in the opposite direction and blotting as needed in lighter areas. One side will be darker than the other because of the different surface textures. You can choose whichever side you want to be visible from the inside. 

4. Let the leather dry for a few minutes, then pinch one corner together. Pinch the rest of the corners and shape your tray the way you want it while the leather is pliable. 

5. Use a clothespin at each corner to help keep them together and to help the leather dry in the shape you created. 

6. Dip your rag in more dye if needed and blot your lighter colored edges to match the rest of the dyed leather. Set aside and let it dry for about 30 minutes. 

 7. Apply glue to the top of the inside of each pinched corner, then reattach the clothespins. Dab any glue that drips into the base of the tray. 

8. Once your leather and glue are completely dry, remove the clothespins. You can apply a leather finish sealer at this point if you’d like.