Introduction: Abacus Coaster

About: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design from Parsons School of Design in NYC. Since then I've done work for Martha…

A playful take on the myth that it's necessary to drink 8 glasses of water a day, the Abacus Coaster lets you keep track of how much H2O (or other liquids) you drink in a day. Sometimes I get so busy at work that I just plain forget to drink ANY water, so this is a fun way to remind myself that I need to grab my glass and head to the water cooler. This is a coaster you can count on.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Supplies

*How much wood, etc. you need will depend on how many coasters you want to make. The following supply list is for ONE coaster.

  • (1x) piece of 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" x 3/8" hardwood
  • (1x) 1/16" x 6" dowel
  • (8x) 10mm round wooden beads
  • print out of coaster cut pattern pdf*
  • clear, non-toxic wood finish
  • brush for finish
  • double stick tape OR non-permanent spray adhesive
  • either a darker wood stain OR a colored paint**
  • sandpaper
  • disposable gloves

*I also included the .ai file in case you'd prefer to laser cut the shape
**This is for one of the eight beads, so you always know what direction you're moving the beads and therefore how many glasses you've had.

Tools You Will Need

  • chop saw
  • band saw
  • drill press or hand drill
  • hand block sander
  • box cutting knife
  • hammer
  • scissors

Step 2: Cut It Out

Cut out the coaster pattern so that there's 1/4" border of white around the edge, like pictured.

Step 3: Stick It

Use double sided tape or non-permanent spray adhesive to stick the pattern to the wood. Using your eye or a ruler if necessary, make sure the side line of the coaster is parallel to the side of the wood.

Step 4: Chop It and Saw It

Using a chop saw, cut out the 3 sides of the coaster and across the top of the tabs.

Then using a band saw, carefully cut out the tabs and inner line.

Remove the paper pattern.

Step 5: Sand It

Using 220 grit sandpaper and a hand block sander, soften/sand all the sides and surfaces of the coaster.

Step 6: Mark It

You will be drilling a hole through the sides of each of the tabs. The thickness of the wood is too close to the diameter of the beads to drill it dead center, so offset the hole up from the bottom my 1/16". This means you will mark 3/16" up from the bottom and front of the tabs.

Step 7: Drill It

Using a small vice and a drill press, drill a hole in one tab that is JUST the size of the 1/16th dowel. You want to have to press hard to get it in. (TEST this on a scrap piece of wood) Then on the other tab, use the next size up drill bit. Doing this makes inserting the dowel loaded up with beads into the tabs super easy and doesn't require using any glue.

Step 8: Measure It

Measure, mark, and cut your 1/16" dowel to 4 1/4" using the box cutter knife.

Step 9: Color It

Use a darker stain or a fun color to stain one of the wooden beads as a directional marker for the coaster.

Step 10: OPTIONAL: Round It

This is an optional step. If you'd like, round the tabs to mimic the bead shape using the hand sander.

Step 11: Seal It

Use a clear, non-toxic finish to seal the coaster wood. I recommend applying 3 coats with a light sanding in between with a 320 grit sand paper.

Step 12: Assemble It

To start, make sure that the coaster is facing bottom down. This means that the holes will be closer to the top surface.

Insert the dowel into the larger of the two holes. It should slide easily.

Load the dowel up with the beads, putting the colored/stained one on last so that it's on the left side.

Gently push the other end of the dowel into the smaller hole then use a hammer to gently tap the dowel all the way into the other hole. The dowel should be flush to both sides of the tabs when properly inserted.

The friction of the dowel in the smaller hole will hold the dowel/beads in place without needing glue!

Step 13: Count It!

And that's it! You're now ready to go forth and keep track of all the liquids you choose to drink. :)

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