I've seen this design used when making cutting boards, and other projects. They usually use hardwoods. I loved the design but my budget did not allow for the hardwood. I also lacked the necessary tools for making a cutting board. I wanted to make something that was cool and simple to make. I also needed to make sure I could make it using the tools I had. So these coasters are what I came up with. It took me a few times with trial and error to come up with a method that worked for me. The following steps are the steps I came up with that works best for me. I hope you like these and possibly make them for yourself.
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Step 1: Materials and Tools
Below is everything you need to complete this project.
1" x 8" Common Board (Pine)
Titebond III (You can also use Titebond I or II as well, however, Titebond III was what I had)
Electric Hand Planer
Pipe Clamps (4 should be enough, but the more the better)
Orbital Sander (I used 80, 120, and 150 grit sand paper)
Step 2: Cutting the Pine
I used the Miter saw to cross cut the 1 x 8 Pine down to 12". I was able to get 4 pieces from the wood that I had. I then used my tablesaw to rip down each panel down to 1" wide strips. Since the 1 x 8 board's true dimensions are 3/4" x 7 1/4", I ended up with 24 strips that were 1" x 3/4" x 12".
Step 3: Cutting the Plywood
I had an old piece of 1/4" plywood left over from a previous project. It was weathered and warped, however, it didn't matter. The imperfections of the plywood doesn't make a difference in this particular project.
I used my circular saw to cut the plywood down to a more manageable piece. I didn't care about the size as much as I did about having enough material to get all the pieces I needed from it. I used my tablesaw to rip the plywood down to 1" wide pieces. I was able to get two pieces from each strip, therefor, I only needed to cut 8 pieces.
I changed the fence setting on my tablesaw to 5 1/2" and cut 4 strips at this size. These pieces will be for later but I cut them now while I was cutting the plywood. I then sanded each plywood strip using 80 grit sandpaper. Since this plywood was old and weathered, I sanded one complete layer off of each side of the plywood strips. This gave a smooth consistent layer for the glue to adhere to.
I used my Miter Saw to cut each strip down to 12" long pieces. This gave me a total of 16 1" wide strips, and 8 5 1/2" wide strips.
Step 4: First Glue Up
I layed out my pieces before applying the glue to make sure that the look I was going for was good. I layed each panel out alternating from the pine to the plywood. Each panel consisted of 5 pine strips and 4 plywood strips. Each panel is 1" in height. I made a total of 4 panels. Once I verified that each panel was good, I applied glue to only one side of each strip except the first piece. I smoothed out the glue so that it covered the entire surface. I assembled each panel with glue. I then used the pipe clamps to clamp everything together tightly until the glue dried. I was able to glue two panels at a time this way. This particular day was warmer so it only took about an hour for the glue to dry.
Step 5: Flattening the Surface
After you remove the panels from the clamps, there will be a lot of squeeze out of the glue. I used a chisel to remove the majority of the glue. Once this was done, I laid all four panels side by side in order to achieve the same thickness. I used the electric hand planer to plane down the top surface of the panels to create as flat of a surface as possible. Once this side of the panels are flat, turn the panels over and repeat the process.
Step 6: Cutting Panels to Final Size
At this point you will need to cut the panels so that when they are glued up, they will align properly to create the brick wall image. To do this, you will want to setup the tablesaw so that you remove 3/8" from the edge of one side of each panel.
Once this is done, you will need to cut each panel to 1/4" thickness. This will take two passes on the tablesaw. After the first pass is completed, flip the panel end for end so the same surface is used as a reference on the tablesaw fence. When completed, you will have 8 panels that are 1/4" thick.
Use the electric hand plane to flatten the cut surface of the panels. I did sand the panels lightly to give a smooth surface for the glue up.
Step 7: Final Glue Up
I lost all my pictures for this glue up, so I apologize for that.
For this last glue up, you will need to pay attention to the orientation of each panel as you assemble it. When completed, each horizontal plywood piece should align to the center of the pine piece of the panels above and below it. This will give the brick wall design.
Begin by setting the first brick panel up on your clamps. Apply glue to one side of the 5 1/2" wide plywood panel and lay it on top of the first brick panel. Apply glue to the second brick panel and lay it on top of the plywood panel making sure to align the brick panels in a staggering orientation. Repeat this until the last brick panel is assembled.
Apply clamping pressure a little at a time on all sides of the block. Do this until all clamps are tightly secured.
Step 8: Final Prepping
When the glue has dried, you will need to square up all four sides of the block. Do this by using the electric hand plane, one side at a time. You can use a speed square to check each surface for flatness as you go.
Step 9: Cutting the Coasters
I used my Miter Saw to cut each drink coaster from the block. I set up a stop block to cut a 1/2" coaster from the block. Using a stop block will allow you to make a consistent cut at the same distance for every cut.
Start your first cut by cutting off only enough material to create a flat end. After this first cut, butt your block up to the stop block and make a full cut. continue doing this until all the coasters are cut.
Step 10: Sanding the Coasters
I sanded each coaster 3 times. The first time I used 80 grit sandpaper. The second time I used 120 Grit sandpaper. The third time I used 150 grit sandpaper.
I sanded each side of each coaster as well as the edges until all cut marks were removed and the surface was smooth. I ended up using my sander to round each corner. I really liked how these ones came out. You can do that if you choose, or you can leave them square. It's up to you.
Step 11: Applying the Finish
In order to protect your drink coasters so they last for years, you will need to apply some kind of finish. There are several options to choose from. I chose to use a polyurethane finish. I used a rag to rub the finish on. I made sure to coat every part of the surfaces and edges. I allowed these to dry for approx. 1 hour before applying a second coat. All together I applied 3 coats.
Step 12: Finished Product
Now that you have cut, ripped, glued, planed, and repeated the process, sanded, and applied your finish, you can sit back, have a cold or hot drink. Use these coasters to protect your counters or tables and admire something you made that looks different than anything else. I hope you enjoyed this instructable. I also hope you choose to make some for yourself. For those who are interested, click on the video to see the build process.
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