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Tidy tray - portable contained work space

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A plastic gardener's portable potting bench or 'tidy tray' makes a useful modelling workspace.

A gardener's "tidy tray" makes a useful portable work space for miniature projects.

Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

The Bottom Line

The Tidy Tray was originally designed as a portable potting bench for gardeners, but its size and durable molded plastic make it a great mess holder for modellers. There is enough room to work on painted projects without spreading the mess, and the plastic surface is easy to clean.


  • Sturdy molded plastic big enough to work and make a mess in
  • Can be purchased with add on shelf to hold supplies
  • Easy to clean up and easy to lift and move


  • Fairly large to store, but can be used for all kinds of indoor/outdoor projects
  • Tends to be grabbed for use by others!


  • Easy to move, good size for a work surface
  • Heavy molded shape is easy to clean, useful for containing wet or dry materials.
  • Tray keeps tools or accessories close to hand, but out of the actual work space.

Guide Review - Tidy tray - portable contained work space

Like so many miniaturists I work where the light is good, often at my kitchen table. I also hate to disturb my workspace, and need to clear the table regularly. One solution is the tidy tray, sometimes sold as the 'bench tidy' a portable heavy duty plastic bin originally designed as a gardener's portable potting bench.

The tidy tray has a high back and raised sides which help keep small parts from escaping. Its useful size, 24 inches wide by 22 inches deep makes a good sized workspace that will fit a table, or can balance on your lap if necessary. The extra shelf is useful to hold paints, glazes, or tools, leaving the workspace clear. If it has to be moved, the high sides mean I don't worry about small parts scattering. It also controls any messes created by spilled tubes of beads or other tiny parts.

Built of heavy duty plastic, it can be cleaned up easily, then stored away on it's side, or tucked under a bed.

Price and Availability:

Price: - generally around $17 for the tray, with an additional $5 for the extra shelf.

Available From: In North America and the UK the trays are available from garden suppliers, including Thompson and Morgan (US online link), as well as Lee Valley Tools online (US link), in the garden tools, or seed supplies section. Both companies also have international links via the US websites.

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