Coasters are easy to create and they make great gifts. During this past summer we attended several weddings. Getting each couple a gift plus the cost of travel and hotel can make wedding weekends quite spendy. Good thing we know how to put our hands to work to save some cash yet make the coolest wedding presents that are sure to last.
These are incredibly easy to make. The wood is just 1/4" oak that I bought from the home center in a 3-1/2" wide by 4' length piece. I cut each square to 3-1/2" to 3-1/2" using the miter saw. You could easily use a hand saw or jig saw for these simple cuts.
After cutting to size, I stacked the squares 5 high, taped them together and then drilled a 3/16" hole in the corner of the block going down through all 5. I then removed the top 4 coasters and enlarged the hole to 1/4" so it would easily slide over the 3/16" dowel. I cut the dowel a little longer than the stack of coasters and glued it in the 3/16" hole in the bottom coaster.
Once the glue had dried on the dowel each coaster got a light sanding and the corners rounded over to break the edge. Next comes the fun part - personalization! To personalize each coaster, we first used a Dremel tool with an engraving bit to engrave a shape or text on each coaster. The engraved sections were then hand panted with black craft paint for contrast. Looking back, i think to save some time next time we would skip the engraving and just go straight to painting as the engraving didn't add as much depth as expected once it was covered in the epoxy finish. Before applying the epoxy, a light coat of stain was applied to the coasters to bring out the natural wood color.
For the finish I chose to use a two part epoxy finish that is typically used for sealing counter tops. Since these are expected to get wet, the epoxy finish is much more durable than a polyurethane finish and goes on about 70x as thick. The trick to getting a bubble free finish is to run a heat gun over the coasters right after the epoxy is spread on while it's still wet. This forces the bubbles in the epoxy to rise to the surface and pop leaving a crystal clear finish.
The epoxy is cured over night and for the finishing touch a pad of self-adhesive cork is placed on the bottom of each coaster to finish it off. And Voila - professional looking coasters that you won't find in any store yet made for less than $10. Happy gift giving!