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DIY Reversible Wood Table Top Tutorial

Written by Mike Tamplin Apr 15, 2013


I‘ve been getting a few questions on my backgrounds in my recent cookie photos. So, I thought I’d take the time to show you what I use and how I made them.

A few months ago, I was getting tired of seeing my boring, dark, dining table surface in my photographs. I wanted some realistic variation in my photos without having to buy actual tables to clutter my condo. I searched on Pinterest for ideas and came across a nifty tutorial from Confections of a Foodie Bride (who got inspiration by a tutorial from Love & Olive Oil). It was a how-to for a double-sided, wooden table top, about 2 feet square in size.

It was exactly what I was looking for, so I took a trip to The Home Depot to get the supplies.

(For a more detailed list of supplies and the step-by-step instructions, please visit the tutorial at Confections of a Foodie Bride. My plan is to show just a glimpse into the construction process, while sending traffic their way of anyone interested in doing this themselves.)

DIY Reversible Wood Table Top Construction

food photography wood board supplies

I had most of the supplies already, with the exception of the wood planks and paint. The paint sample was just $2.94. The wood I found was only available in 4ft planks that I cut in half with a handsaw. The cost of those planks were around $30. So it came to about $35 for two food photography surfaces. Not bad!

Here’s a pic of the gluing process:

wood gluing food photography table

And here’s what the finished surface looks like after being weighed down by heavy objects and set to dry overnight:

food photography wood unstained

After posting a few cookie photos, I was really impressed how the board surface looked in my final shots. I decided I needed to make a second one just to have a few more background color options. The hardest part was definitely picking out what colors to paint the boards. If you’re interested, here are the color samples I ended up choosing.

In order:

  1. Varathane’s “Weathered Gray” wood stain

  2. Behr’s “Sea Life” paint

  3. Behr’s “Glacial Tint” paint

  4. Varathane’s “American Walnut” stain

wood color samples for food photography

Tip: I wanted the wood grain to still show through after painting, so I wet my foam brush with water before applying the paint on the wood. Then I immediately wiped away the excess with a paper towel.

That’s pretty much the entire process of making these wooden table tops. Pretty easy, if I say so. Here’s a pic of my photography setup using these new wood surfaces:

food photography set up

If you’re wondering what those white, light boxes are on each side of the wood board, I wrote another DIY tutorial about them here. I mostly (almost always) shoot at night due to my work schedule and they are a tremendous help. Here’s a shot of the setup with the lights turned on:


Now, here are some of the actual shots with the wood table top backgrounds:

game of thrones cookie platter
oscar awards cookie
star trek finished red cookie
cabbage patch kids cookie cupcake

If you like what you see and feel up to a little DIY weekend project, I encourage you to head over to Confections of a Foodie Bride’s page and build one for yourself.

If you’re not up for making something or just don’t have the time for a DIY project, I totally understand. There are other simpler options that give you similar results. Melissa over at The Baked Equation shows you her food photography setup. She uses no-fuss, vinyl backdrops from Ink & Elm in creative ways. It’s worth checking out.


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30 replies on “DIY Reversible Wood Table Top Tutorial

  1. I love your settings :) I’m a Nikon shooter too, and a huge fan of natural lights so I always use natural light whenever i can, i struggle to take pics of my cookies at night coz i dont have any lightboxes or difusers.

    You just gave me an idea that maybe i can convince my hubby to build me one of these setups :P

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