I like to read and relax in m whirlpool, especially after a long day but there was a problem... I was worried about dropping my phone in the water, or tipping my drink over into the tub. The store bought trays all seemed weak and flimsy, but most of all they were waaaaayyyy too high. They straddled the tub top lip, and to put anything on them meant your elbows were almost as high as your shoulders - totally uncomfortable. So I set off to make my own.
1. Low to be comfortable to read a book or my phone / iPad.
2. Make to look rustic / Industrial and useful. I'm not building fine cherry furniture, especially in a wet environment.
3. I wanted an offset design so it did not take up too much of "tub space." Easier access in and out and not look imposing.
Step 1: Materials & Have a Plan
Teak Wood - I decided to use teak for the water proof resistance, durability. Teak is not exactly cheap and this wood was pushing $80 - $90 by the time I was done. Buy carefully and have a plan first. I had little to no scrap and what I did have left, I cobbled together the book stand you see in the picture. I got the teak on eBay and it comes in all sizes so plan accordingly to minimize waste.
Copper Pipe - I also used surplus copper pipe and fittings (1/2") I had lying around but had to buy a few fittings by the time I settled in on my design. So figure another $6 on fittings.
Epoxy "Gorilla Brand" Glue. Used to glue the pipe into the sockets drilled into the wood.
Epoxy Putty or Automotive Fiberglass Fender Bondo - either will work. I had the Bondo on hand. Used to screw into from below the tray.
Clear rubber self adhesive feet. I used this to prevent scratching of my tile surround on the tub deck.
3 - Large Fender washers (1") or make your own like I did out of copper sheeting and solder 2 sheets together for stiffness
Step 2: Design a Plan
Measure your tub for overall length. Be sure to have good overlap as to not accidently bump your tray off the lip and into the water.
Decide if you want full width or offset as I did to allow for better access and to reduce the imposing size of the tray when using the tub. You don't want to block your (or your partners view "wink wink") of the swirling water or view of YOU!
KEY DESIGN FEATURE - Look at how high the water can physical fill the tub as measured from the lip down into the tub. There is an overflow drain that the water cannot fill above, so if you want your tray closer to the water than a straight shot across the tub lip, measure how far down the tray needs to drop. This will translate to the down turn legths on the copper.
Since each whirlpool is very different from each other, I did not give dimensions for the pipe lengths or offset down into the tub. I actually sat in the tub several times having made the tray first. I held the tray where I wanted it and got someone to measure to the tray all the dimensions I needed for the pipe.
See my very crude sketches for what I constructed.
Step 3: Cut - Nail - Epoxy - Sweat Solder
I cut out all the wood pieces and laid them out on my bench. I used a spacer to maintain the slots between the slats for water spills to fall through the tray.
I used an air nailer with light brads to tack the tray together. I also used tite-bond wood glue to help hold it all together. So far, after a few months use, the glue is still holding fine with no signs of water causing it to let go.
After the tray was built I bore 3 holes ALMOST through to the bottom of the tray stopping short to leave a blind hole. I wanted more strength of the tray to rest down on the washers versus a screw through the side. Also it would look less obtrusive. I drilled a small through pilot hole the diameter of the stainless steel screws.
For a washer i cut a total of 6 disks out of copper sheeting and soldered them together for stiffness, then drilled a hole in their centers to accept the screw.
I did not putty or glue up the nail holes - I like it a bit rustic and well... I got lazy to get it in the tub.
After the pipe lengths were figured out and their configurations were all sweat soldered, I crammed the tube ends full with fiberglass bondo for the screws to thread into. I then epoxied the pipe into their respective 'sockets" and screwed the washer up tight from down below. This made a very solid joint. There are a number of sweat soldering tips you can find on the internet, just be careful with the heat and to not burn down your house !
I sanded up the entire tray and put a generous coat of linseed oil over the entire tray, but be forewarned, it takes forever to stop smelling up your bathroom. I really don't think it is needed with the properties of teak, but all the store bought ones were oiled, and I had the oil anyway.
With the scraps I made the book stand. Just be sure to had a good high edge to stop the book or cell phone from slipping off the stand and into the water !!!