Pixel Art Coasters

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About: Maker with an obsession for the 8-bit!

Coasters made using little squares of various hardwoods as the palette for pixel art.

This instructable does two of my favourite things....pixel art, and using up bits of wood that are too small for anything else. It's also worth noting that this is a guide to making quite a lot of coasters, so with Christmas on the horizon this could get a few people off the pressie list.

Please leave a comment if you've got any advice on how this could be done better/easier, and be sure to check out my other projects!

Step 1: Make a Lot of Sticks

The first step was to gather up off cuts of woods of various colours. I was just using up bits that were too small for anything else and had some beech, oak, iroko, sycamore, mahogany, and walnut.

I aimed to make them around 6mm square as this is as small as my thicknesser can handle. After making them all equal thickness I cut them to width with a little breathing room on my table saw, then a few more passes on the thickenesser to make the sides uniform.

I cut the sticks into bits about 10cm long with a mitre saw.

Step 2: Plan Design and Prep for Gluing

I needed to make the design/designs as small as possible so I wouldn't end up with oversized coasters. I started a new project in Photoshop with the canvas at a size of 14px x 14ps and set about clicking pixels to shoehorn in some classic Mario sprites. Be sure to be aware of the limitations of your palette, and how much of each colour you've got to work with.

I also made a gluing jig out of some softwood and lined it with plastic. This needed to be a nice snug fit for the sticks with one edge loose so pressure could be clamped in to squeeze out excess glue.

Step 3: Glue

Using Gorilla wood glue on each individual stick I carefully glued up the designs. It's a bit of a race against setting glue here, but don't rush and get pixels in the wrong place!

Once all the pieces were in place I clamped the floating edge of the jig to help squeeze out some of the excess glue. After an hour or so the glue was dry and the solid block could be released from the jig. I had to remove a side from the jig to get the leverage but a bit of mould release spray or something could make this easier.

Step 4: Slice, Mount, and Frame

Now that I had these blocks I had to slice them up. Although it would have been a lot quicker to use the mitre saw I thought that the blade was a bit greedy and I didn't want to lose too much to sawdust, so instead I went with my thinnest bladed saw. I managed to get 7 or 8 coasters out of each block.

They were getting a little delicate at this point so I mounted them on some 3.5mm plywood. Once they were squared up on a mitre trimmer I glued a thin wood edge around each one to frame and protect the coaster.

Step 5: Sand Flush, Varnish, and Felt the Bottom.

I made a jig to hold the coasters and set about sanding the face flush with the edging with a belt sander. After doing a few times I found things moved much faster with a bench sander (so no pic).

I did the finishing sand with a random orbit sander loaded with 120g paper.

To finish them off I gave them a few coats of polyurethane varnish and glued some felt onto the bottom. I later peeled this off and went with cork instead which looked way better (sorry no pic again)

I was really pleased with how these came out, and they make great little gift for any gamer friends!

Comment with any tips & tricks on how you would do this, and please be sure to check out my other 'ibles!

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    10 Discussions

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    Dutchboy1

    8 days ago

    Great job and inventive! I was thinking bandsaw while reading this when trying to figure out how all it was done. Glad to see you didn't cut tiny tiles up then glue them together. Also thickness sander once glued up l know sounds expensive but all kinds of tools worth adding to your shop! Keep it up.

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    lolamatic

    Question 9 days ago on Step 1

    Any ideas/tips on how to try this without a planer or table saw? I can get access to a table saw for a few hours as needed but not a planer :(

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    1up Livinglolamatic

    Answer 8 days ago

    I'd hunt around and see if you can find somewhere that sells wood in tiny stock sizes and skip the machining step completely. You also may be able to get away with skipping the planer...it really helps to get the rods uniform and fit together nice n' tight, but some careful machining on table saw will get you pretty darn close.

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    mtairymd

    9 days ago

    Those look pretty cool. Nice job!

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    ttemple2

    10 days ago

    Great work! For glue-ups, get some repositional craft glue, spray a flat surface with glue, lay out your row of "pixels", brush entire area with wood glue and then stack them in your jig. Can do entire row vs one stick at a time. You should around 5-7 min working time with the glue.

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    1up Livingttemple2

    Reply 10 days ago

    Now that's a much more efficent way of doing things! Great tip.

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    attosa

    10 days ago

    Very well done. They look awesome :)

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    handmadewithashley

    15 days ago on Step 5

    These look awesome! Great work! :) I’ve been wanting to make something like this. I like the jig you made for the glue up phase.