Introduction: Pallet Wood End Grain Coasters

About: I have an unhealthy relationship with pallet wood. I make fast paced and entertaining build videos on my YouTube channel that are made for everyone, but with the ultimate goal to get the younger generations ex…

100% reclaimed wood coasters made from the finest of hardwood pallet wood! Each coaster holds a random pattern of spanish cedar, white oak, ask, red oak, pine, alder, elm, poplar, maple, and birch. The end grain orientation of the coasters shows off the amazing beauty of the grain in all the different species of wood. Created with a painstaking process with 5 separate laminations, these really have a special charm to them.

I hope my family needs coasters because every one of them is getting a set for Christmas! :)

Step 1: Materials & Tools


- Pallets

- Wood glue

- 2-part epoxy

- Painters tape

- Waterlox tung oil finish

Tools (Not all of these are required, but this is what I used for the build)

- ISOtunes bluetooth hearing protection

- Some nice solid boots for pallet disassembly

- Thickness planer

- Tape measure

- Pipe clamps

- Bar clamps

- Glue spreader bottle

- Miter saw

- Table saw

- Double knife scraper

- Jointing sled

- Bench top belt sander

- Random orbital sander

Step 2: Pallet Disassembly

Per usual, we start off breaking up the pallets into usable lumber because I hate myself. I've experimented with many complicated processes to get these guys apart and I have to say, I think I've found a winner.

With the pallets disassembled, I send all of them through the thickness planer until each face of them is smooth. Each of the pieces is a different thickness too, so I end up working my way from the thickest material down to the thinnest. You never know what you're getting either, here's the reveal! Spanish cedar, white oak, ash, red oak, pine, alder, tons of elm, poplar, maple, birch, and a few different mystery woods.

Step 3: Processing the Pallet Wood

With the pallet wood, there are a lot of defects that need to be picked out, so I sort all of the slats into 3 different piles: good pieces, pieces with length defects, and pieces with width defects.

The pieces with length defects have them cut off the end on the miter saw and then the pieces with width defects get them ripped off here on the table saw.

Now to prepare for glue-up, I sort all of the slats from wide to thin. I'm the pallet slat whisperer.

Step 4: 1st Glue-up

I create groups of slats that make up about 3.5" total since I want the final coasters to be 4" and I will add a border later.

Then it's just a matter of creating my first pallet sandwich by spreading glue on one side of all of the pieces except for the joint between the sections that I divide up earlier.

The whole group of slats is clamped up together as one big glue-up and are divided up layer. I use some big pipe clamps to pull everything together.

It takes a lot of clamps, so I have developed special techniques to remove them. Time is money!

Step 5: 2nd Glue-up

I separate all of the chunks of pallet sandwiches and bring them over to the table saw. Each of the blocks is ripped into random thicknesses close to 1/2". I want a random pattern though, so I add or take off a little from that dimension with each cut.

You can see all of the random width pieces that are created from this process. Pallet wafers? Pallet bacon? Pallet twix? Whatever you call them, I'm seriously enjoying the pattern already and it's just getting started.

Getting ready for the 2nd glue-up, I assemble the new slats into 3.5" blocks again. It's too bad though, since they are doing all of the work at this point.

I spread the glue on them like before, leaving glue out between the 3.5" sections and leave them to dry for the night. Then I dissolve the clamps again...

Step 6: 3rd Glue-up

Each block is sent through the thickness planer to make sure that the sides are parallel and then the other 2 sides are cut flat on the table saw.

Now that the blocks are cut down to a square, I can proceed with the 3rd glue-up. I add a border piece to 2 sides of each of them by applying glue to one side of the border piece and clamping up.

Drip, drip, obligatory glue haiku...

I let these pieces sit for a few hours to dry and then remove the clamps again.

Step 7: 4th Glue-up

The blocks are sent through the thickness planer again to make sure everything is flush on the remaining 2 sides of the squares. Then I proceed to the 4th glue-up to add a border pieces to the remaining 2 sides.

After the glue on those pieces are dry, I remove them from the clamps and cut one end of the pallet sausage flush to see the pattern in each of them. So amazing! I can't wait to see the finish on them at this point to see the color.

Step 8: Slicing and Filling

I set up a stop block on the miter saw and cut each of these blocks down to a bunch of 1/2" pieces to create the coasters. I also cut some pieces to 1" to use later as the base for the coaster holder.

A lot of the coasters have a piece in them that is either a knot or a crack that takes away from the smooth surface of the coaster like you see here.

To solve this, I mix up some 2-part epoxy and squeegee it on the surface of all of the coasters. This will cure solid to fill in all of those gaps, but at the same time, it really soaks into the end grain and fills that while also hardening the surface a bit.

With the epoxy cured, I sand each side of the coasters down smooth again. This removes most of the epoxy, but whatever filled in the gaps or soaked in remains so we get a nice smooth surface left behind. I get a finished surface by sanding them with a random orbital sander through the grits down to 150 grit.

Step 9: Assembling the Bases

Now I need to make something to hold the sets of coasters! I find some pallet slats (of coarse) that are all 1/2" thick. I cut these down on the miter saw so a length equal to the 1" base piece and 4 of the 1/2" coasters.

After cutting miters into the side pieces, it's time for the 5th glue-up! I apply painters tape to the back side of the miter joints and then apply glue. When I pinch the 2 sides together, the painters tape pulls the joint tight.

I then apply glue to the perimeter of the base where the side pieces will attach and clamp them in place flush with the bottom of the base piece.

With the glue dry (yet again) I remove them from the clamps. Any glue squeeze out is removed with a chisel and I soften all of the sharp corners with some 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted the base to not be entirely symmetrical to kind of mirror the randomness of the coasters themselves. This shape allows you to grab the coasters out with a finger in the gap and a couple of fingers on the long side.

Step 10: Stamping and Finishing

Then the last step before finish is stamping bottom of the holders with my branding iron.

It's finally time... just look at that before and after!! I use Waterlox tung oil to finish the coasters and holders. Even with the epoxy, it still soaks into the end grain so it takes a few coats.

Step 11: Glamour Shots

And that's a wrap! Each of the coasters sets is different from one another, but each of the 4 sets comes from a continuous piece of the "pallet sticks" that I created when laminating them all up. Thanks for checking out the build, but also be sure to watch the build video for the full experience!


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