I made some miniature pallet coasters out of 1/4" wood salvaged from a small chest of drawers that were being thrown away. I just used a bandsaw to tear off thin pieces of the boards and glued them together. This project was inspired by Steve Ramsey's pallet coaster project (http://www.woodworkingformeremortals.com/2013/05/pallet-drink-coasters.html) I liked the idea but I don't have pallet wood to work with and, more importantly, I don't have a planer to take the wood down to size while preserving the texture of the pallet. I do, however, have a bandsaw and I produced a nice texture ripping 1/8" and 1/4" planks off of these little boards. I have seen all sorts of pallet coasters on the internet but Steve's are the only ones that don't look like they're made from popsicle sticks. I would have used his method I don't have the proper tools and my living situation does not permit the acquisition of a pallet's worth of wood for this scale of project.
* 1/4 wood boards
* wood glue
* bandsaw (or something else to rip 1/8" off the boards)
* hand saw and some sort of miter box or jig for cutting the lengths off (optional, I suppose)
* rough grit sandpaper (to remove hanging bits of wood after cutting)
* polyurethane (or some other sealer) (optional?)
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Step 1: Ripping the Planks
This step is fairly simple. You start with whatever 1/4" wood you can get. Cut down a whole bunch of lengths at about 1/8" and then more at around 1/4". I just eyeballed it all by setting up the jig on the bandsaw and taking a couple practice cuts. It definitly doesn't have to be precise, but accurate uniform pieces are important.
I ended up using 14 pieices of 1/8" planks and 3 pieces if 1/4" for each coaster, but while making them I just sort of guessed the ratio and it worked out ok.
Step 2: Sanding the Planks
This step is pretty simple but probably the most time consuming other than the final glueing. Just take a piece of rough grit (60-80ish) sandpaper and run it along the corners to remove any hanging pieces of wood. This may not be much of a problem with newer wood (I don't know) but with this old dry wood there were a ton of little pieces hanging off the sides of the cuts. I then also quickly sanded down the sides of the cuts. Just enough to take out the somewhat jagged tooth marks but leaving the rough texture from using a bandsaw. Again I don't know if this was from the saw or just the old wood. I'm not an expert by any means.
Step 3: Cutting Down the Planks
Ok, now that the mini-planks are usable, it is time to cut them all down to size for building the pallets. I cut the thinner 1/8" planks to 3-1/2" and the thicker 1/4" planks to 4". I don't have a miter box but I just built a jig out of one of the small 1/4" boards and a piece of scrap wood (also from the dresser) nailed to it, but you can use your imagination. Whatever you do, I highly recommend clamping a piece of wood at the length you are cutting, it will save a lot of time. I suppose you could use a miter saw or something but that seems like a waste of effort for these smallnpieces.
Step 4: Assembling the Coasters
This part is pretty easy, but time consuming.
I just used a carpenter's square to lay out the bottom three planks, glued the middle thicker planks down, then glued all the top pieces across all in one go. I did find it useful to check for any sort of bowing in the wood and place it appropriately. I didn't do this for the first one I built and I had a bit of trouble getting some of the thin planks to glue down to both ends since they were not perfectly straight. It doesn't really matter if they all glue well to the middle though, so if there is any bow just make sure they touch both ends.
I used some leftover thick pieces placed along both edges between the coasters to hold everything together under a weight overnight while the glue set. You could probably clamp them all together but I didn't think it would be a big deal for this project.
When this is all done you could seal all the wood. I haven't done this yet but plan to before using them. I'm not an expert but I have polyurethane laying around so I plan on using that. If you think you know better use your own judgement.
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