Introduction: How to Make a Personalized Map Coaster

About: I'm a graphic designer from Canada. I love creating things, whether it's digital or something more tactile. I also enjoy writing, reading, learning, and hanging out with my dogs.

Here is how I created a romantic and personalized gift for my boyfriend. Each Coaster is a map of an important place in our lives, and the penny marks the spot where it happened.

Step 1: Tools & Materials


  • Wood (for ease of the project, we got 1/4” x 3 1/2” x 4’ piece)
  • Copper Wire
  • 4 Pennies
  • Gorilla Glue
  • Fiberglass Resin
  • Light Duty Cork Pads
  • Brush and Stain (optional)


  • Wood burning Tool
  • Clamps
  • Saw
  • Chisel
  • 3/4 inch spade bit
  • Drill
  • Pencil
  • Tape
  • Ruler
  • Sand paper
  • Something to spread the resin (I used a pallet knife)
  • Access to a printer

Step 2: Print Map of Important Places

I created this template on Adobe Illustrator by tracing a map I took a screen capture of from google maps.

You can get the same effect by taking a screen capture of a map from google maps. You’ll need to size the screenshot so that the important parts of the map will fit in a 3.5” x 3.5” area.

Print your sized map and hold on to it.

Step 3: Cut Your Wood Into Squares

I used a compact miter saw to cut the wood, but you could use any saw you have handy.

Tip: Measure your first coaster, then use that first coaster as a template. A common mistake is marking your first cut at 3 1/2” and your second cut at 7”. The second cut would not account for the thickness of the saw’s blade, and you would end up with different sized pieces of wood.

Step 4: Mark the Centre of Your Penny

Mark the centre of your coasters by drawing a diagonal line from corner to corner. Where the lines intersect is your centre point.

Step 5: Drill Hole for Penny

I started by marking the approximate depth of the penny on my 3/4” spade bit with tape so I knew how deep to drill.

Clamp down your wood block. I used strategically placed screws to prevent my wood from spinning while I drilled. Keep in mind that your drill moves in a clockwise direction, so you just need to prevent your wood from moving clockwise.

Line up the tip of the bit with the centre of your coaster (you marked the centre in the previous step). Although I marked the depth of a penny on the bit, I still found that the best way was to drill a bit, then check the depth with an actual penny.

Step 6: Build a Jig to Assist With Cutting Groves for the Copper Wire

I used scrap wood to construct a simple jig. Your top block (A) should extend past your middle (B) block by 1/2”, and you need to make sure that the height of the wood you use in the middle (B) is slightly higher than the height of your coaster.

I then screwed my jig into my work bench. I screwed a screw to use to butt my coaster against while I saw.

Step 7: Saw Path for Copper

Put your coaster in your jig. Saw down the same depth of your copper. Do all 4 sides of each coaster. If the width of your saw is smaller than your wire, find something you can put in your jig as a spacer and take another cut to widen your channel. I used a sliver of wood.

Once you have done this to all 4 sides of each coaster, you may have to chisel any groves left from the saw.

Step 8: Transfer Your Map to Your Coasters

You may want to sand or erase any pencil marks you have before beginning so that it doesn’t get confusing.

Start by cutting out your map in a 3.5 x.2.5 in square. You want the actual point on the map that’s important to you to line up in the centre of your 3.5 x 3.5 inch square.

Colour the back of the paper in pencil. You want to make sure that everything is completely covered.

Tape the paper to your coaster and trace it with something sharp like a pen or mechanical pencil. Remove the paper and Crisp up the impression left by the graphite with your pencil.

Step 9: Burn Your Map Into the Wood

Take your time and burn the map illustration into the wood.

Step 10: Stain Your Wood (optional)

I wanted a darker colour to my coaster, so I stained it. Follow the instructions on the label. I only did one coat, let sit for 10 minutes, then wiped off and let it dry.

Step 11: Glue Your Copper Down

Dry fit all the copper first so you don’t have to file it down afterward (I made this mistake). Glue it down according to the instructions on the glue. Let dry.

I also hammered my wire slightly flat so it had a more rustic appearance.

Step 12: Add Your Resin

I used fiberglass resin (can be bought at any hardware or automotive store) because it’s much cheaper than the resin you buy at craft stores. Use in a well ventilated area. Prep everything first because you only have a 15 minute working window to get everything poured out once you add the hardener.

I let my resin dry for 3 hours.

Another important thing to note is that since I used automotive fiberglass resin, it dries slightly darker.

Step 13: Add Cork Pads to the Bottom

To avoid scratching my table, I added cork dots to the bottom of my coaster. It was as simple as pealing them off and sticking them on.

Step 14: Enjoy Your Hard Work

If I could do this project all over again I would recommend purchasing a decent wood burner. The one I used could only be on for 30 minutes before the plastic handle started to burn my fingers.

This was my first instructable, if anyone has any suggestions how I could improve, or maybe you have a better way to do one of the steps, I'm all ears. Thanks for reading!

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