August 27, 2014

DIY Wood Coasters - Two Ways

When my Mom wouldn't let me add some pink to the solid wood trivet Hubby and I made her, I needed to satisfy the creative craving.  I gave up that particular battle without much fight because we were still house-sitting for my woodworker father-in-law, surrounded by oodles of scrap wood, so I just grabbed another beautiful piece for a paintable project.  Hubby cut out two sets of coasters but, when push came to shove, I also fell in love with the raw wood.  Dammit, Mom.  First you get me hooked on grey, and now this.  

The wood I chose has so many knots and such beautiful grain that it just felt wrong to hide it!  I relented and gave the most unusual, organic coasters a thin coat of the same white stain we used for the counters.  The second, less spectacular, set was stained dark walnut and then painted, as per my original plan.

It felt good to get that out of my system, but the more natural finish has won me over.

Here's the how-to:

We started with this piece of wood, but I could have easily have worked with any scrap piece - any type, any thickness (this one is super chunky, which I think looks good on our 2" thick solid wood counters).  Our piece was pretty smooth but if you start with something rougher, you might want to plane it or even just run a belt sander along it.

With wood in hand, we did some figurin'.  Hubby used a sliding T bevel to figure out the angles on our hexagon coasters.  You can also kick it old school with a protractor and straight edge - or bust out some high school geometry and just a ruler if you're super badass. 

With the hexagon figured out and drawn onto the first section, Hubby used a bandsaw to cut out the first coaster.  After that, we traced the first coaster on subsequent lengths of the board and Hubby kept cutting.

The edges were a little rough so I smoothed them over with sandpaper (first a 120-grit and then a sheet of 220).  I softly rounded the edges and sanded the surface as well.

After that, I rummaged through my father-in-law's wood finish cupboard (like a kid in a candy shop) and found a Resto-A-Finish in Walnut that looked promising.  I used left over Saman Whitewash on the other set.  Here's what they looked like with just stain (I applied one coat):

When we got home from house-sitting, I painted the edges of the walnut-stained coasters.  I experimented a little, using both acrylic paint and household latex paint - the latter was terrible: super watery and took many coats.  The acylic paint from the craft store did a phenomenal job, especially the copper.  I used a small artist's brush and just free-handed it, painting the bottom surface too, just for fun.

Lastly, I gave each side and edge two thin coats of clear wood finish (also snagged from my father-in-law, I'm incorrigible).  I gave the coasters a light sand between coats, using 220 grit sandpaper.  This is the same finish we used on the floating credenza top and I really like it because it dries in a flash.  The only tricky thing is that you have to apply it really thinly, otherwise it shows yellow (which it's not supposed to).

And, voila - the painted edge I was so eager to have:

Flipped over it's a totally different look:

Here's one last look at the white-washed ones:

If you make some, you could add some felt to the bottom (like I did to my tile-turned-trivet).

I have definitely just written the longest post on the easiest project, but I'm enjoying chatting about something so simple (and so complete!) because many of our lakehouse projects have been so involved.  This was easy peasy, and I learned a valuable lesson: turns out Mom's still always right.

Which do you prefer?  White-washed or walnut-stained (with a painted edge)? 


  1. I really like the walnut stained coaster only cause the would go really well with the end tables in my home. Either way, both sets of coasters look good!

  2. Very creative Tanya! I like how you made a piece of wood to a stylish colorful coasters.. I love it! I want to try this at home! Thanks! :-)

  3. Not a fan of walnut at all, but the white wash isn't enough for me, just looks like plain wood to me. The white with the painted edge would be my style I think. I do love the color choices of course. #teamturquoise

  4. These look great! I love both the styles with a mix of the dark and light stain and the painted edges... and I'm just a huge sucker for hexagons.

    1. I definitely wanted something hexagon - such a fun trend!

  5. All natural for me please. Who's the blonde perched in your husband's lap?

    1. That is Widdo Piddy, the ever-kitten. She showed up on his doorstep when he was in high school. I've spent all of our years together plotting to steal her from my in-laws :)

    2. Ha, ha, ever kitten. She's lovely. Does your dog get along with her? Obviously your spouse is a cat and a dog person. Would you be afraid to have a cat with all your foxes around?

      And are you expecting any of your wood coasters to split? Or is the wood very seasoned? A stump that we were using as an end table on our covered deck developed a split right down the middle during our hot, dry summer. Obviously it was greener than we thought.

    3. Widdo Piddy lives with my in-laws so Szuka and her have only had limited contact. They eyed each other warily in the beginning until Szuka got too close and Piddy took a swipe at her. Piddy's claw got snagged on Szuka's thick fur and she went for a ride. After that they eyed each other even more warily and kept their distance. Szuka's barking bothers Piddy a LOT.

      When we do a bigger project we're more careful about working with wood's uncontrollable qualities (ie, not using solid pieces) but for this project I just went with a solid block because it looked cute and if it goes wonky it won't be the end of the world. A knot already has some splitting but that's my favorite piece. This summer was so cold that even our wood counters barely budged - we expected them to expand much more. There isn't much difference in temperature/humidity inside the lakehouse between winter and summer. It's been keeping our wood stuff pretty mellow, lol. I'll definitely report back if I have any issues with this splitting. It didn't seem to be very green.

    4. P.S. That's terrible about your wood stump table!! What a disappointment. I've never made one, but I've seen a few tutorials and folks normally let those dry out for a loooong time before putting them to use. I just don't have that kind of patience.

    5. No worries. At this point it's still a one piece stump and if we hurry I think we can salvage it with metal strapping. Spouse has access to a strapping tool or a tensioner or whatever it is that you use to strap together pipes or rebar or stuff like that. Now if we can make the strapping look cool and that was our intention in the first instance, it's a win, win.

  6. These are adorable. The color combination and Gold and of course the Geometric Design. Beautiful. Totally Pinning It.


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