Introduction: Butcher Block Coasters
I have been making a butcher block baking table for my sister using cherry, maple, and black walnut. I recently glued up the piece and trimmed it to length which left me with some decent sized scrap pieces. Instead of burning them, I tried to use them for some other small projects (i.e. tea light holder). One idea I had was to use them to make butcher block coasters. If you browse the internet you probably know coasters are a super common project (literally just need some thin-ish pieces of wood) for crafty people; however, I can't remember ever seeing butcher block ones.
I made a Youtube video showing how I built them so feel free to check it out! (I apologize, I don't have great video editing skills haha another thing to learn).
The great thin about these are that you don't need to many tools to make them, although obviously some specific instruments will help a great deal.
Shamless plug: I have an instagram where I document some of my projects, feel free to check it out and connect! http://instagram.com/woodworkingnonsense
If you don't feel like reading I made a quick video that shows the process. Feel free to give that a watch for some additional clarification.
So without further ado.... butcher block coasters.
- Table Saw
- Chop Saw
- Orbital Sander w/ Sandpaper
- Some type of finish (I used Danish Oil)
- Router (Optional)
- Router bits with desired edge profile (I used a chamfer)
- Some scrap wood (I am using black walnut and maple)
- Wood Glue
Step 1: Prep the Lumber
First thing to do is get the wood planed and jointed. If you don't have the tools to do these, do not fret. You can buy some lumber already prepped from Lowes or Home Depot (lots of oak...). Also, if you do a google search you might be able to find a lumber supply store in your area. They would have a much larger stock and have the tools to get the wood prepped for you. It might also be worth reaching out to people selling lumber on craigslist or a local woodworking shop (someone making furniture or cabinets, etc) and asking if they have some small cut offs or scraps. Lots of shops will sell this stuff for pennies or even give it away free. To make something like coasters we don't need that much material.
1) I like to first plane my material down. In this case I am going to get the wood down to about 1 inch thick.
2) Joint one edge on your jointer. If you don't have a jointer there are some cool jigs you can make to do this on a table saw.
3) Walk over to your table saw and rip off the side that is parallel to the one you just jointed.
You should have some nice squared up boards now.
Step 2: Rip the Blocks
Cool step name, Rip the Blocks lol.
Anyway, here we are going to use the table saw to rip the pieces into 3" wide strips. I am doing this so that I have a rectangular butcher block pattern. You can change this to something else if you have a different idea in mind, lots of super creative things people have done.
So set the fence accordingly, and rip away. You need at least 3 good pieces when you are done, preferably 4. These pieces should be 1" thick and 3 inches wide. It will be easiest to work with if they are at least 5 inches long. Feel free to trim them on your chop saw if they are excessively long.
Step 3: Glue Up
Rule #1 of Glue Ups: Always lay things out and practice first. Figure out how you're going to be applying the glue, where the clamps will go, etc. You have to work quickly and be efficient once you start gluing.
We are going to glue the rectangular blocks up with the 3" wide sides facing each other. Play around with the arrangement, make sure you like the patterns.
(You can get creative here and add additional strips in that are less or more than 1". It will just make the patterning irregular, which is desirable for some people.)
I like to apply the glue with either an old toothbrush or foam brush. So spread a thin layer of glue across the faces to be glued up and start clamping.
Once you have clamped, it is time to go get a cup of coffee.
Step 4: Milling the Butcher Block
So after the glue has dried, you should have a nice rectangular block of wood that looks vaguely like a butcher block.
Remove your clamps and walk back over to your planer. Run the block through to clean up all the sides as you probably didn't get a perfect glue up. It is ok if you have to take a little more off one side than the other. People won't notice.
Step 5: Cutting the Coasters
Now we need to cut our coasters from the butcher block chunk we have.
A few ways to do this:
- You could use a Bandsaw
- You could use a crosscut sled on your table saw (might have to rotate the piece if your blade isn't big enough)
- You can use a chop saw
I opt for the third choice and use my chop saw.
Set up a stop block to make sure all your coasters will be the same thickness and then start chopping. I think 4 coasters is a good number for a set so that is usually the multiples in which I cut them (4, 8, 12, etc).
Step 6: Sanding & Routing
Almost there. First go drink some more coffee, then go grab your orbital sander (or sanding block if you are old school).
Things should already be pretty smooth so you shouldn't need to go crazy here. I usually knock down with a 120 grit followed by 220.
After this I like to do my routing. Using what ever edge profile you prefer (I usually just do a small chamfer), go and hit the sides of your coasters. Should be quick and easy.
For a final sanding, you can go back over with a 400 grit. That should clean up any burrs and get things nice and smooth.
Step 7: Finishing Steps
Final step!!! Go Go Go
All we have left to do now is give them whatever finish you prefer. I like to just use Danish or Tung Oil. You could definitely use a generic butcher block or mineral oil too, or stain them if you wish. Go crazy...
And voila, we are done. Go put the coasters on your table and have a dinner party so your friends can be impressed.