My fiancee and I wanted to make something special for our wedding guests. We love DIY projects - they're just more special than something store-bought. After looking around for inspiration, we got excited about the idea of making wood-slice coasters! This 'ible will walk you through our process. These are inherently very customizable - you can use this as a guide and make them your own!
Step 1: Gather Your Tools
This project does rely on power tools. Cutting the trees down can certainly be done with an axe (I had to use one when I went back for more wood and the chainsaw wasn't working). However, when it comes to making the actual coasters in any large quantity, you'll want a powered miter-saw.
Tools and materials you'll need:
- Chainsaw or axe
- Powered miter-saw (chop saw)
- Foam paint brushes
- Stain and/or polyurethane
- Sand paper (fine or medium grit)
- Scrap wood
- Tape measure
- Raw limbs or tree trunks
Step 2: Select Your Trees/branches to Cut
Depending on what wood you have available, you can use either limbs or the trunk of a small tree. In my case, the wood on our property is mostly post oak which does't get very big, so I had to use the trunk of a tree. If you have mature trees, you should be able to find a limb or two the right size for this project.
Select a tree with a diameter of about 3.5-5 inches (about 12.5 inches in circumference). Note that the limb/tree will be larger at the base and smaller towards the tip, so try to find one which is consistently a good size all the way up to minimize waste. When you've found a good one, harvest it!
Step 3: Start Chopping
Set up your chop saw on a sturdy work-surface. To help make sure you chop the logs consistently, clamp a scrap piece of scrap wood about half an inch from the saw blade. With this guide clamped in, you can simply bring the log up to the block and cut it without having to measure each time. Depending on the length of your log, you may need a friend to hold the log flat on the saw's cutting surface. Remember to be EXTRA CAREFUL during this process! Once the log is too short to allow you to safely hold it while cutting, throw it out!
Step 4: Dry the Wood
If you cut a fresh log, the moisture content will be too high to allow for proper sealing. Set your raw coasters on a rack or shelf which has good airflow and allow them to dry out for a week or so. You want to let them dry out slowly to avoid cupping or cracking.
Step 5: Sand and Seal
Once the coasters are dried out, we can start the finishing process. Use some sand paper to sand down any roughness or saw marks on the coaster. A belt sander can help here, but simply securing a large piece of sand paper to a work surface and running the coaster across it a few times works well.
With the coaster sanded, you can now apply a stain of your choice. I chose not to, since I really liked the look of the wood I was using, but this is certainly where you can use some creative license.
To help the bark and moss stick to the coaster, we poured some polyurethane into a shallow pan and dipped the whole coaster in. This left a fairly thick layer of poly on the coaster. If you want a thinner coat, you can brush it on with a foam brush or spray your sealant on with a spray can.
Step 6: Wrap Them Up With Twine
Once the poly has dried, you're ready to package them! We chose to wrap them in twine and label them with a homemade label. This went along with the design theme of our wedding and complemented the wooden coasters nicely.
I hope you enjoyed this project! Let me know if you make your own!