Wood Coasters




Introduction: Wood Coasters

About: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!

Rustic wood coasters made from a fallen tree, when stacked together look like a tree limb. Simple, tidy, and fun!

Instead of burning that old tree in the backyard, reuse it and make it into something awesome! These stackable coasters align on a spindle attached to the bottom coaster and are a great way to protect your table top. Making your own is super easy, and a great way to give an old tree a new life.

Ready? Let's make!

Step 1: Tree Limb

There was a an oak tree in my neighbourhood that had a few dead limbs. Because the tree was near power lines the city came by to trim the dead branches. I happened to be nearby when they were working and asked to keep a few of the larger sections of branch arms.

The tree limbs had been dead a long time, so the wood was already dry. You’ll need wood with a moisture content of about 10% or less to avoid the wood splitting after you work with it (ideally 6-8%). You can check the moisture content of wood by using a moisture meter. If you have 'greener' wood here's a great Instructable for drying wood at home.

Using a handsaw I chopped the oak branches down into a manageable length and then brought it into the workshopshop. To make these rustic coasters we'll need a tree branch that has a diameter larger than beer bottle, that way it can accommodate all types of drink containers, like wide mason jars.

Step 2: Measure

I wanted thick coasters so that when they are stacked it looks like a big section of wood. I roughly measured out that each coaster would be about 1 ½”.

Step 3: Cut Branches

Setting up a stop block on the chop saw that matched the thickness of the coasters I carefully cut the branch into 1 ½” pucks.

Step 4: Drill Dowel Opening

In order to line up the coasters when they are stacked a matching reference hole is drilled into each piece which will have a dowel in it. The bottom coaster will have an opening drilled only halfway through, which will house the dowel to align all stacked coasters on top.

I used a forsner drill bit that was slightly larger than the ½” diameter dowel I was using so the coasters could easily slide off. After drilling the first hole in the top puck, stack and align the next piece and carefully mark the opening. This will allow your pice to line up perfectly when stacked.

On the bottom coaster I used a matching ½” forsner bit, and only drilled halfway through, so that the dowel would fit tightly. Drill carefully and not too close to the edge so that the wood pucks don't break.

Step 5: Glue Dowel

After drilling the dowel can be glued into the bottom coaster. This coaster will be the spindle that the other coasters will stack on top of.

Step 6: Stack Coasters

After the glue has dried on the dowel in bottom coaster stack the remaining pucks in order on top. We'll need to trim the dowel flush at the top coaster.

Step 7: Flush Cut

Using a flush cutting saw I trimmed the dowel to match the top coaster, careful not to gauge the top coaster with the sawing action.

If desired you can sand the surface of the coasters. My coasters were in good shape from the chop saw and didn't require any additional sanding.

Step 8: Finish

I coated each coaster with Danish Oil, which really brought out the grain and helped seal the wood against the moisture they would inevitably come in contact with. I applied 2 coasts of oil, allowing about 30 minutes between coats, excess oil was wiped clean.

Step 9: Stack and Serve

Stacked together, these coasters look like a branch, lift one off and you're ready to serve up a cold one. Whether stacked or separated, these attractive coasters would be a great additional to your rustic cabin or maybe just in your urban hideaway.

Have you made your own rustic wood coasters? I want to see it!

Share a picture of your version of this project in the comments below and be awarded a 3-month Pro Membership on Instructables.com.

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51 Discussions

Hi Mike

The coasters are beautiful! I'm trying to transfer photos to the wood and then use them as coasters. I've just had a fail as the finished I use has marked with my cold glass of water. Ops.

So I need something to make them waterproof and heatproof. Any ideas??

Thank you so much :)

1 reply

You could seal each coaster with an epoxy resin, which would be a shiny and thick coating like this. It's durable and water resistant, though it may not stand up to heat as well. Always make a test piece before committing, you can work out lots of kinks along the way :) Good luck!

You may try tung oil. Pulls out the colors of the wood, then a polyurethane coat to preserve. I do this with all my carvings.

I was looking around for wood ideas because of Hurricane Matthew's leftovers and found your ible - stupid me I cut coasters for the 'survivors' with my chainsaw, covered them with Elmer's glue on both sides to prevent cracking, but they are too thin now to sand off the glue, I am going to go find another fallen tree - I know just the one - a long leaf pine, which is a hardwood - and do this your way. Will post when done. Thanks for sharing your ideas. All the time.

BTW when working with green wood, or wanting to eventually, always seal the wicking ends (the sides without the bark) with Elmer's glue so moisture can evaporate slowly, preventing checking or cracks.

1 reply

Sealing the ends is an excellent tip! Thanks for sharing, Nina.

Looking forward to seeing your wooden coasters, they're going to be even better with a story attached to them :)

First off, this look fantastic! I have slices from a willow tree that have that saw-tooth outer edge of bark just like this. I've been searching for a good sealant, or method, to provide extra strength for holding these saw-teeth on. Any suggestions!?

what about I used about three coats of outdoor polyurethane over the bar and that seem to keep it up keep it attached

Great job! Did you laser engrave those?

Those look great, and I love them with the bark on.

Thanks for sharing your version of my project, enjoy the Pro Membership!

I have my wood cut, fresh off an apricot tree, should I dry the wood before vanishing it? Someone suggested doing it in an oven

1 reply

Wood that has not been dried termed "green", meaning it may shrink and crack as it fries out. Thinner sections of wood (like the coasters you cut) could be dried in the oven at low temperatures over the course of a few hours. Alternatively you can let them air dry, but that can take months (years for larger/thicker pieces of wood).

I love the stacking idea. I made started this last year and planning on doing it again this year. I collected the stumps of family members Christmas trees and let them dry over the year in my garage. Then I sliced them up to make coasters and ornaments. I sealed with clear poly because I was afraid the moisture from glasses would cause the wood to split but apparently that is not the case from what I hear. The ends that got too close to my hand to make any more cuts with I made into simple candle holders which my mother-in-law loves and has on her table all year long. I'm loving the dowel idea and will 100% be adding this to this year's batch which has grown. I have 6 stumps drying in my garage this year as well as a few I harvested from neighbors trees when they put them out at the curb after the holiday.

1 reply

Reusing old holiday trees is a great idea. Your designs are nice, I hope you can make a few new projects from last years trees. Please share pictures of your completed tree projects when you are done.

Thanks for sharing the pictures, enjoy the Pro Membership!


3 years ago

Always like a good coaster set. I used a dowel to help align these plywood coasters: https://www.instructables.com/id/Plywood-coaster-loaf
Enjoy your work!

1 reply

The small dowel is a good idea to keep things aligned in your plywood coasters.

I like how similar ideas using dowels and coasters can come out entirely different. :)

I made mine today! I used juniper, then covers it with mineral cutting board oil to finish it. Also, instead of drilling each individually, I used a drill press, drilled all the way through, the cut with a ban saw. I think this was easier than drilling each individually. I got rid of the saw marks by using a palm sander. I really like how they turned out.

1 reply

Smart idea drilling the dowel hole first, and the juniper looks fantastic!

Thanks for sharing your coasters here, they really came out great. Enjoy the Pro Membership!

Thanks man! My buds and wife LOVES EM! Thanks bro!!!

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