Canadian Woodworking


Author: Heather Craig
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: April May 2006

These coasters, both functional and decorative, provide a great way to use up some of those little gems that you have squirreled away.



New ideas are often born of workshop leftovers. I used walnut for the coasters and birch for the holder.

• From 1⁄4″ stock, cut the circle for the coaster. Use a 3 3⁄4″ hole saw, mounted in a drill press. Remove the bit from the center so it doesn’t interfere with the pattern to be cut out later.

• Place a piece of scrap wood between the drill press table and the stock. This will allow for a cleaner cut on the bottom side of the coaster. I clamp my stock to the scrap piece of wood before cutting the circle.

• Remove the coaster from the hole saw. I use the eraser end of a standard pencil, inserting it through the holes in the top of the hole saw and pushing out the piece of wood for the coaster.

• Sand rough edges of the coaster circle.

• Glue the pattern on to the circle of wood with a spray adhesive. Make sure to follow the directions for a temporary bond. Consider the direction of the wood grain when placing the pattern on the coaster. I suggest the grain be oriented horizontally for this pattern. The coasters can be stacked and cut two or three at a time. I find two at a time is the best.

• Once the glue has dried, pre-drill a hole in each section of the pattern that is to be cut out. Then cut out the pattern using a scroll saw.

• Remove the pattern. Sometimes it doesn’t peel off as easy as it should, so I invert my belt sander in my Workmate and use it to sand the pattern and glue off the coaster.

Coaster Holder

• Mark the middle of the center stock for the coaster holder by drawing diagonal lines from opposite corners. Their intersection marks the center of the block.

• Secure the block on the drill press and line up the 35⁄8″ Forstner bit with the center of the stock for the coaster holder.

• Drill a hole through the block.

• Cut the block lengthwise, with the wood grain, to a width of 13⁄4″. Only half of the block is required to make the holder.

• Make the faceplates for the holder from 1⁄4″ stock. Mark the center and drill a hole using a 3″ Forstner bit. Cut it lengthwise, with the wood grain, to a width of 1 3⁄4″.

• Glue the faceplates to each side of the center block.


• Sand the coasters and holder smooth using progressively finer sandpaper.

• Finish the coaster by dipping it in wipe-on-poly and wiping off the excess with a lint free cloth. Apply the wipe-on-poly to the coaster holder.

• Once dry, rub with very fine steel wool between coats of wipe-on-poly for a smooth, silky finish. Three coats of wipe-on poly will provide a durable finish.

These coasters are easy to make and are great gifts all year round. They offer endless opportunities for a woodworker to be creative with all those little workshop gems that pile up in the corner. Mix and match woods, build the holder like a puzzle, get funky and have fun.

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