I was offered a free pack of Sugru to try out. Since it was free I said "Yes! Send it to me right now!". Then I jumped on-line to find out what the hell Sugru was. Turns out Sugru is a new type of silicone that cures at room temprature and sticks to anything so it is perfect for DIY projects. The obvious applications were adding grips and feet to things. I wanted to do something not quite so obvious that would allow me to get to know the Sugru better for future projects (without buying it drinks and dinner). Then I remembered the coasters made from silicone I have seen at various places for a lot more money than I would ever pay. So I decided to make my own Sugru coaster for my desk at work. Here's how I did it and what I learned in the process...
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Rolling Pin ( I didn't have one so I used a full can of Dr. Pepper. Here's the first thing I learned in this project: I need to get a F***ing rolling pin if I make more Sugru coasters! Then I talked to my wife and it turns out we do indeed own a rolling pin and she even suggested a way to cover it so the Sugru wouldn't stick. Another example of why I should listen to my wife.)
- Plastic gift card or other improvised shaping tool
- A piece of metal screen
- A small metal tube or rod
- Utility knife
- Three 5 gram packets of green Sugru (I started with two but taht wasn't enough. Four would have been ideal, but I only had three.)
- Wax paper
Step 2: Layout
Lay your wax paper flat on your work surface. Use your ruler and marker to lay out the shape of your coaster. I went with a three inch square which is large enough to accommodate a 12 ounce pop can or 20 ounce pop bottle. Try to place your shape at one end of the wax paper so you can fold the other end of the paper over it. I made my layout in the center because I wasn't thinking. I'll explain the significance of this in the next step.
Step 3: Open and Mix Your Sugru
Use a pair of scissors to open all three packets of Sugru. Squish the Sugru together into one large mass and then plop it in the center of the outline on your wax paper and squish it some what flat. Fold the end of the wax paper over the Sugru and proceed to roll it flat with your rolling pin (or in my case a can of Dr. Pepper).
Once the Sugru begins to spread it probably won't do so evenly. As the Sugru migrates over the line of your lay out stop occasionally and scrape the excess away. Place the excess Sugru in those areas that aren't expanding as well. This way the shape will be filled out as completely as possible. I nearly filled my outline, but stopped short as I was afraid it would make the coaster too thin.
Initially I didn't fold the wax paper over at first and I learned the Sugru will stick to the can of Dr, Pepper. I also learned that a can of Dr. Pepper is tricky to hold onto when used as a rolling pin and will fly from your grasp unexpectedly with a great cacophony as it bounces madly around the shop,
Step 4: Texture
With the basic shape of the coaster finished it was time to add some texture. I wanted to do this so as condensation runs down the outside of the pop can it won't form a seal and cause the coaster to stick to the can.
To make my texture I used a piece of rain gutter screen. I cleaned it up and then bent it into an "L" shape. I pushed it down into the Sugru and then used a rolling motion to pull it out. The Sugru didn't stick too much, but I probably should have coated the screen with petroleum jelly to ensure it wouldn't stick. I also should have taped down the wax paper as it began to lift off the work bench as I rolled the screen, which nearly deformed the coaster. I did this twice to cover most of the coaster sureface with texture. I tried to limit the texture to the center of the coaster, but my success was limited on this front.
I felt the texture was a little too uneven in places so I rolled over it lightly with a small metal rod to even it out. This helped improve the look...a little.
Step 5: Cure and Trim
Now there is nothing left to do but wait for the coaster to cure. After the requisite twenty-four hours had pased I trimmed away the uneven portions of the coaster with a utility knife and the coaster was deemed complete.
Most likely if I want to make more silicone coasters in the future I'll just carve them out of old silicone pans from the thrift store. I freely it admit it is not a pretty coaster and could rightly be described as ugly (if not down right FUGLY) but it was a very valuable learning experience with a new material.