How to Make a Modern Balsa Wood Table Runner

Balsa Wood Table Runner Tutorial | Turn some craft wood into a fun bohemian-style accent for your home - no power tools required!

Hello, It’s Corinna from A Designer At Home here again with a DIY you ought to try. Decorating a dining table is a lot of fun around the holidays. But for the rest of the year, I want to be able to keep things looking put together and cool without a whole lot of work. I tend to avoid table runners because I’m lazy, don’t like to iron, and haven’t found anything I like a whole lot. But they do make for a great anchor to the rest of the decor on display. So I put my thinking cap on and decided I’d make a wood table runner as a tray/runner hybrid. Intrigued? Let me show you how I made it!

I’m not the kind of person who enjoys the sound of power tools. I’m sensitive to the sound. That’s why balsa wood is such an interesting craft item to play around with. It acts like wood in that it can be stained, but it’s soft and pliable and cuts easily with a sharp craft knife. To get the crisp edges you want with a project like this, I would use a rotary cutter. The rotary cutter, balsa wood, metal ruler, old rag, spray adhesive, stains of choice, wood glue and thin sheet of plywood cut to size are what you’ll need to make one of your own.

non fabric table runner, table display anchor

Balsa Wood Table Runner Tutorial
by Corinna from A Designer at Home


  • 4 inch wide balsa wood
  • rotary cutter
  • old rag for stain
  • stain (special walnut, dark walnut, espresso)
  • metal ruler
  • quarter inch thick plywood cut to size
  • wood glue
  • spray adhesive

Cut a quarter in thick piece of plywood into a 12 inch by 4 foot piece. Line up the pieces of balsa wood onto the plywood to start getting an idea of where everything will sit.

Mark the center of the plywood and the center of each of the balsa wood. for the center piece, measure out 10 inches on either side of the center and draw a line across this point. Then repeat at 8 inches, marking the center of this 8 inch line. Use the cutter and metal ruler to cut out a triangle shape between these two points of either end.

For the top and bottom pieces, measure out 8 and 6 inches on either side of the center point. Using the cutter, cut a diagonal line between the two points. Creating mirrored trapezoid pieces.

You may need to grab multiple pieces of balsa for each row of the design if you can’t find pieces long enough. Or because you need to re-cut pieces. I found that the balsa wood was really forgiving with lining up cuts. If i messed up a piece, I could just grab another piece and shave off bits with the cutter until I got a snug fit.

dry fit balsa wood

Once all the cuts are made, use the old rag to smooth a coat of stain over the pieces of balsa. After this dries, thinly spread wood glue over the backs of the pieces, one at a time, pressing into place before moving onto the next piece. Start in one corner and work across a row before moving to a new section, readjusting with the rotary cutter as needed to keep the pieces in line with the sides of the plywood.

cut and stained balsa wood wood glued to thin plywood for unique table runner

Place heavy books atop the pieces while the glue dries to prevent the edges from curling up. Give the glue a couple of hours to dry and seal with a spray adhesive. I do think using polycrylic and a brush for thick coats will make this less prone to knicks though.

And this was an after thought, so really I’d suggest painting the edges of the plywood first so you don’t have to be as precise, but it was at this point I thought about the exposed edges and painted them black. If I do it again, I’ll spray paint the edges to make it easier and just draw the stain down the sides of the balsa wood. I think this way would look really good.

paint the edges to conceal the unfinished edge

The dining room in our home is a space that’s had many hats before finally settling into this purpose. I’m excited to put my touch on a space we’ll enjoy meals and crafts together in and I hope it gives you an idea to get creative.

the look of fancy wood work without the power tools

balsa wood table runner in southwestern geometric inspired design

I’m sure you’re wondering about the candles. Haha, it just wouldn’t feel like home if I didn’t use something quirky with this much brass. I like to keep things fun. It keeps me energized and I love the vibes the house has- especially with a 4 year old about.

faux wood working with balsa wood

eclectic wooden table runner and decor

eclectic dining room display. wooden geometric table runner with brass candlesticks and quirky candles

brassy and whimsical dining room table centerpiece

bohemian interiors an unusual take on a table runner. southwestern inspired balsa wood design.

beginner friendly DIY balsa wood southwestern inspired pattern table runner idea

balsa wood runner, thrifted brass candlesticks, whimsical cractus candles

This space certainly has quite a bit more evolving to do. But adding a finishing touch like a table runner has helped us see the vision for the space. If you enjoy what you see, you just have to stop by and visit A Designer At Home. You can start with my pallet planter on wheels or visit my project gallery to see my other creations.

Try some of these other easy projects, too!

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How to Build an Easy Headboard in 2 Hours with No Special Tools, Do Not Disturb This Groove on Remodelaholic

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Build a DIY modern side table for just $15 with this easy tutorial and building plan @Remodelaholic



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Hey There! I'm Corinna and I share my passion for creating beautiful space meant for living in on my blog A Designer At Home. You can expect to see tutorials, room reveals, design advice, home improvement and tips & tricks for the home.

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