Intro: The Drum Coaster Set
I have four favorite seasons for beer, and Summer happens to be one of them. An ice cold beer after mowing your and the neighbor's lawn. A celebratory suds while waiting for glue or finish to dry on a project. A few poolside pops when your friends with the pool are out of town and they'll never find out. The answer is D .. all of the above.
Sometimes I transfer the elixir into a standard pint glass or a "perfect pint glass" ... other times I stick with its native bottle ... the decision fluctuates. There are however, two consistent factors.
1. At some point, condensation is going to form on that vessel.
2. I'm gong to set it down where I'm not supposed to.
The Warden has impeccable hearing ... aural skills so finely tuned, She can actually hear a water droplet sliding down the exterior of a glass container. This is no big deal if I'm in the yard, but if it occurs any where in the cell block .. game over. Even the threat of a water ring will get me time in solitary confinement .. there is no beer in solitary confinement.
The solution, as we all know, is the Warden's favorite book/magazine .. or a drink coaster ... we better go with a coaster. It needs to be cheap ... it needs to speak to my style .. and it needs to include a bottle opener ... because I can never find one when needed. I'm going with scrap poplar (3/4", 1/2", and 1/8") and aluminum rod to fulfill the first parameter, the look of a drum to fulfill the second, and we'll get to the third.
Step 1: Disc Templates
My first task was to decide on dimensions, so I measured several different glasses. 4" seem to be a good size for the actual coasters. I arbitrarily went with 5" for the top and bottom, which ended up being a bit undersized for my visual taste, but the diameter can easily be increased by using different router guide bushings.
The second task was to make templates. I used a two layer lamination of hardboard because one layer wasn't thick enough for my guide bushings. The coaster template is just a circle drawn with a compass. The top/bottom template is also drawn with a compass, but I needed six holes around the perimeter. For this, I reduced the span of the compass and drew another circle .. making sure the 4" discs would fit within the remaining internal space.
To find your 6 equidistant locations along the circumference, just make an initial mark and use the compass to make additional marks to the left and right, as I've done in the picture above. Then just continue around the circle until you have all six.
I drilled out the six holes with a 1/4" Forstner bit. Then I rough cut the circles on the band saw and trued them up using a simple jig and the OSS. It's as simple as securing the disc via the center hole to a board and clamping it to the table. The key is to take light passes until you get to your desired diameter.
Step 2: Routing Discs Step One
Using a trim router with a guide bushing, I traced these templates several times to make my disks. I used strong double sided carpet tape, an anti-slip pad, and clamped the board to the work table.
I took light passes and routed down 1/2 - 2/3 of the way, so I'd have enough of an edge for a guide bearing to ride.
With the larger discs, I used a larger diameter guide bushing to get more of an offset from the template, therefore giving me larger diameter discs. I also marked the six hole locations using the 1/4" Forstner bit and light taps with a mallet.
Total disk count:
6 - 4" disks from 1/8" poplar
1 - 4" disk from 1/2" poplar
2 - 5 3/8" disks from 3/4" poplar
Step 3: Routing Discs Step Two
Using the routed channels as a guide, I cut all the discs free of the boards on the band saw.
To flush this band saw cut edge with the profiles we traced in the previous step, I used a pattern bit/flush trim bit on the router table.
NOTE: I went very slow, with total focus, and kept my hands at a distance while maintaining control with the aid of push pads.
Now would be a good time to discuss alternatives:
1. Rough cut the discs on the band saw, tape on the template, route with a pattern bit.
My perceived issue: I felt this was a bit risky as I'd be trying to cut all the thickness at once on relatively small pieces.
2. Rough cut the discs on the band saw and true them up on the OSS, which bypasses the need for templates.
My perceived issue: I'd have to put holes through the center of every disc.
3. Laser cutter would be the ideal.
My issue: The machines to which I have access can't cut though 1/2" and 3/4" wood stock.
Step 4: Sanding Discs
The line of delineation between to two separate router operations wasn't as smooth as I had envisioned. There was also some minor wood fiber inconsistencies. Not full blown tear out ... more like abrasions. To clean this up, I taped all the like diameter discs together and cleaned up the edges using the OSS.
This experience leads me to consider an additional alternative:
4. Temporarily laminate all like diameters using double sided tape, rough cut on the band saw, sand to line by eye on the OSS.
My Issue: I was determined to get perfect discs, but this would be a good alternative.
To clean up any stubborn carpet tape and adhesive residue, I used a putty knife and mineral spirits.
Step 5: Drilling Discs
To drill the six holes in the top and bottom discs, I used the drill press and the 1/4" Forstner bit. Depth is up to you .. I went about 3/8", which is half the board thickness.
We also need to add thickness to the lid for the bottle opener. To do that, we'll be laminating the 1/2" x 4" diameter disc to one of the larger discs. Since this will be the top of the coaster set, I picked the one with the more interesting grain pattern.
Find the center of both discs. You can use geometry, but I used my Disc Center Finder. Drill all the way through the 1/2" disc and only part of the way into the 3/4" disc.
Step 6: Lid Lamination
Spread some glue to the smaller disc, align the centers using a small nail, and add clamps. If you're like me (craving a beer), you'll need to clean up all the squeeze out because you used to much glue.
Step 7: Aluminum Rod Drum Lugs
While the glue dried, I turned my attention to the aluminum rods. Aesthetically, these are the drum's lugs, but function wise, they are the vertical supports of the coaster holder.
Length is going to depend on a few variables.
1. The number of coasters.
2. The thickness of those coasters
3. The depth of your holes in the top and bottom discs.
I recommend you sneak up on the cut till you get the desired fit and then set a stop block. For me that was 2 3/4".
I used a miter saw with a metal cutoff wheel. You might not want to do that, but aluminum is a softer metal and I was comfortable with the idea. An angle grinder wouldn't give me the repeatability I desire and I don't have a metal chop saw. I used a scarp piece of plywood to hold the rod in place while cutting, as well as keep my hands far away from the cutoff wheel.
Using the OSS, I removed any burrs and slightly chamfered the ends of each rod.
Step 8: Bottle Opener
For the bottle opener, I'm using one of my favorite washer tricks.
Using the existing hole for center alignment and a Forstner bit, I drilled a 1 3/8" diameter hole deep enough to accept the top of a bottle. For me this was all the way through the 1/2" layer. Next, drill an offset hole large enough for your washer. This needs to be recessed because the screw needs to be flush with (or below) the surface.
I'm using a countersunk screw, so I needed to enlarge the center hole of the washer with a step bit.
To see more of this washer bottle opener, check out my Stationary Bottle Opener and Wooden 6 Pack.
Step 9: Sanding and Finishing
With fabrication complete, all of the discs were sanded up to 220 and then finished with 50/50 boiled linseed oil/mineral spirits, followed by a coat of paste wax.
Step 10: Assembly
To secure the rods into the bottom disc (make sure you don't grab the top), I used Gorilla glue. I tried superglue, but it didn't hold. Epoxy also didn't hold ... and to my amazement, heavy duty construction adhesive also failed. Some of the Gorilla glue expanded up out of the holes, but it was easily removed with a utility blade and soft buffing pad.
The washer was attached with a countersunk screw. Go with a screw long enough to get a good bite, but not so long you blast through the other side. If you need to drill your washer hole deeper to get it below the surface .. no problem.
Step 11: Glamour Shots
Now it's time to sit back, liberate your favorite brew of it's metal cap, and rest assured you won't be getting yourself into a tabletop refinishing project.
The project can easily be scaled up to larger diameters and more coaster capacity. I made a six coaster version, as well as a four coaster version.
Top and Bottom Disc: 3/4" x 5 3/8" Diameter
Lid Lamination: 1/2" x 4" Diameter
Coasters: 1/8" x 4" Diameter
Aluminum Rod: 1/4" x 2 3/4"
Washer: 1" Fender Washer