I made these coasters as a present a while back for a friend. I wanted to make some more- and realized that I forgot how I did some of it. Looks like instructables is going to help me in the future in more ways than I initially imagined. As I take classes at the TechShop the options for a project continue to expand. I took the table router class just hours before I realized that it would help me complete the coasters quicker with higher consistency.
I made it at TechShop.
Only use tools that you have had the appropriate training for. Always wear eye protection when near tools. Understand and accept the inherent risks associated with any operation.
Vertical Belt Sander
Table Router with a 1/8th inch radius bit
Color Printed Paper - 75 cents each
1/8th" 2'x4' MDF - $4
Colored Felt Sheet - 32 cents each
Spray Clear Sealer
Spray Contact Cement
Step 1: Prepare and Print a Design
Prepare a design and print it out. Using a 3.5 inch square, with no interior spacing 6 can be fit on an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet. I did not create the patterns used, they were found on a free vector image site. I have attached one of the AI files, and a PDF of each theme.
Some notes on the layout: Don't put lines where you will cut, they will be visible. Remember to bleed any graphics that are supposed to go right up to the edge about an eighth of an inch. About a quarter of an inch of margin reduces the need for exact cutting. Add cut marks on all sides, then chop away. The marks will fall off before you get to use them on one of the sides, that's ok. Pick the scrap off the table- it is a perfect measuring tape for where to cut the rest are. Just line it up and cut it up.
Step 2: Cut MDF
Use a table saw to rip strips off the sheet, then a chop saw to cut to size. Try to make them as exact as possible. On the chop saw this means setting a stop.
To set a cut length stop on the chop saw, carefully align one of the boards, then slide two pieces of scrap up against the work. Clamp the piece farther from the work to the fence, so that when the other piece of scrap is removed from the sandwitch, there is no pressure on the work. This will keep the blade from binding and damaging the squares when they are cut free.
Step 3: Round Corners
First attempt at rounding corners was to use the vertical belt sander. I could get a good radius doing one at a time, but when I tried stacking them the quality was poor. Instead of using the sander to add the radius use a table router.
Clamp all the pieces together to form one large block of 'wood'. Use the disk sander to flatten up the three exposed sides. I slid the block from left to right and noticed that this caused a sort of jointer effect, where it would take a slice off. The outside of the disk will sand faster, so a sliding motion ensures more consistent sanding.
Once the edges are sanded flush, run it through the router. Setting the fence close will make the work less awkward to handle. Use a third clamp to facilitate switching the clamps to the other side of the block. Sand the last side flush, then go back to the router to finish the two previously inaccessible corners.
Step 4: Spray Paint and Glue
I decided that I wanted only a clear coating on the coasters. I use "Rust-oleum Painters Touch" spray paint. The button is easy to press and the quality fairly good.
Secret trick to make the project work:Take the clear spray and apply liberally to the back of the papers. Enough so that it evenly soaks into the paper, and the design can be seen through as pictured. This will help with the water resistance of the paper, but more importantly will keep the paper from becoming clear when applied to the wood. If the paper is not sealed and let dry before being glued on the wood, when applied the sealer will unevenly wet the paper onto the wood, causing it to show through. This action will not go away when the sealer dries.
If you decide that you want to paint the wood a color now is the time to do it. Spray the front, then stack them together to spray the sides. Don't bother with the bottom since it will be covered by the felt.
Glue on the Paper
Apply spray glue to the back of the paper, wait a few seconds, then carefully apply to the wood. Once all the papers are applied a coat of sealer can be applied.
Step 5: Cut and Attach Felt
Cut and attach felt, or attach felt and cut off. I prefer the latter. Apply glue to both surfaces for a strong bond. Use an Exacto knife to trim the excess.
Step 6: Enjoy
Enjoy your new coasters. A custom set can make a great present, or some favorite quotes or images can add a personal accent to your living room.