Book Cover Coasters

Introduction: Book Cover Coasters

I have a family of avid readers, so there are books all around our house, all the time! We also tend to have drinks around, especially in living areas and I noticed that as often as not, books were being used as coasters for our drinks (soft drinks, beer, water, wine, you name it!). Then, I was making a hidden book safe for my kids and had some left over book covers. It was something like this Book Safe ible , but I think I originally got the idea from Make Magazine but can't locate where I got it. Anyhow, I had some left over book covers and noticed how some were pretty cool and they might make good coasters. And voila, there you have it, they do make great coasters. They're stylish, though provoking, bring back memories of great books, and very useful!

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Step 1: Materials

You will need:

1) Books with hard covers - I looked in thrift stores, basements, garage sales, etc. Try to find books that you've actually read or have some sort of connection with you. If you haven't read them yet, but them and read them first, then make them into covers. Also, you're going to want books that have covers that actually have pictures either embossed on them or glued to the book cover. Newer books have dust jackets and boring covers underneath...that's not what you want.

2) A SHARP X-knife or craft knife. The sharpness is key here. A utility knife also works well, especially for cutting the covers but it's not great for detail cutting later.

3) Glue - I used Elmers ProBond. It's great!

4) Tape - I tried lots of kinds of tape for this and found that two types are best. Electrical tape and hockey tape. Duct tape was just too strong and didn't want to bend. Electrical tape looks best because it's nice and shiny but in order to get it to work well, you have to have a fairly large border, otherwise it doesn't stay down. Hockey tape works best and has a nice cloth look to it, but doesn't have the sheen of electrical tape. I've been told gaffers tape would work, but didn't know where to find any.

5) Sheets of cork - I used 1/8th inch sheets found at Michaels

6) Clamps and two pieces of scrap wood for equal pressure

7) Some sort of finishing. I used spray polyurethane, but I think ModPodge would work well. I have just never used it.

Step 2: Step 2: Source Your Books

Finding books and/or covers is the hardest part of this. You don't want to use books that you will read again. You also want them to be good looking and sturdy. Newer books don't usually actually have good covers for this. I've found it's best to use books that are older (1980's or earlier). Places to look: Thrift shops, garage sales, library give away bins...

You want them all to have the following characteristics:

1) Sturdy

2) Good looking

3) They also should have the decoration directly on the cover, either embossed or glued.

In this case I went with old kids mystery books as a theme, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Trixie Belden. I've got some kids in my family that are really into these books right now and their parents loved them as well.

Step 3: Step 3: Cut Out Your Coasters

I used a back cover to make a 4 inch x 4 inch template that used to serve as a window for deciding where to cut my books. Be artistic here, you won't be able to get everything, and sometimes what is missing or partially shown makes things really cool!

When you cut it out, use your X-Acto knife or Utility knife to score the book and make multiple passes instead of trying to cut it all at once. A sharp knife is imperative here. If your blade is dull, replace it!

*Note: I'm posting another instructable where I use the extra pieces of book cover for another type of coaster, so reserve these!

Step 4: Step 4: Bind Your Coaster

Using one strip at a time of tape, carefully tape the coaster. Be careful to be straight! I usually go with about 1/8th inch as the border, but you can do more or less. If you use electrical tape, go 1/4th inch or bigger. Wrap the extra tape around the backside and flatten it off. Do the top and bottom, then the sides. Cut off excess with your knife.

Step 5: Step : Glue Your Cork to the Binder

Cut your cork to a size bigger than the coaster. It's not important to be perfect at this point. Smear a good amount of Elmers ProBond the back side of the coaster and the place the cork on top of the binder. Then sandwich them between two pieces of scrap wood with clamps. I usually leave this overnight. When you're done sometimes you'll need to pop them off of the wood because they'll adhere a bit. I've never had them permanently bind though.

Step 6: Step 6: Cut Off Excess Cork and Spray With Polyurethane

Next, you'll want to cut off the excess cork. I usually find it best to run the X-Acto knife at a slight angle toward the coaster instead of straight down. A sharp knife is imperative at this step! The cork has a tendency to rip toward the corners, so be slow and careful.

Finally, spray the tops down with two or three coats of polyurethane. I used high gloss, but this is up to you.

*Note: I've also done this with VCR covers and Comic book covers with some slight variations. I will be posting how to do that soon. Keep posted!

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    4 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I love this idea but hate to tear up books, especially the sort of classics that would make the most interesting coasters.

    Here's a mod: You can easily find images of just about any book cover on the Web. You would then print them and you could then either decoupage a suitable base with the images, transfer the images to wood, etc. There are several ibles you can use that describe different methods, such as:


    Another advantage to this idea is that you can size the images to fit your coaster base material so you can fit the whole cover onto the coaster rather than cutting off part of it..


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comments! It's great to share my ideas with people who appreciate them.

    It is hard for me to get rid of anything, especially books I've love. I totally agree with not messing up the classics which is why it was so hard to source good books. I tried to find books that were either so plentiful that tearing up a good one wasn't a big deal, or like all of these particular ones, the books were either falling apart (Trixie Beldin and the Nancy Drew) or were ruined from water (both Hardy Boys). You can sort of see that one of the Hardy Boys covers was warped from water damage. The pressing seems to have straightened it out though.

    However, while I really like the idea of sourcing pictures from online and decoupaging them, in the end it doesn't feel or look like a book cover. Also, you loose the idea of recycling or up cycling books that would otherwise be trashed.

    Another possible idea for recycling books would be to affix torn or old covers from paperbacks or glossy magazines onto old book covers like I've done with these VHS tape sleeves.


    5 years ago

    my very first books!!! <3 don't forget The Boxcar Kids too I cherish those memories.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm looking for some worn hard back Boxcar kids as well. No luck so far, I think too many people really loved those.