I would like to have posted plans for this drink coaster much earlier, but then I would have given away the secret of what my family was getting for Christmas this year. This tiny project is very easy to build. It can also be painted, carved, or otherwise decorated to your liking, since personalized drink coasters make great gifts or wedding favors. Although the drawing shows the website name engraved around the edge, for the Christmas gifts I actually engraved some bows and the year.
Now although I’m calling this a “drink coaster” it’s really a bit larger than normal sized coasters. At this size it fits a wine or sparkling cider bottle very nicely. On Christmas Eve, upon learning the fact that my wife’s aunt doesn’t like sparkling cider (part of her gift), I discovered that it also works great as a trivet for jar style candles.
I had this great idea to make sets of wood coasters with a cork inlay to catch moisture. My local craft store had 4" diameter cork disks that I thought would work perfectly for a drink coaster. I picked up a couple of packages and started to design the coasters around the cork.
So much for great ideas! Using the sizes given on the drawings, I allowed plenty of space for engraving or decoration around the edge of the hardwood body. This caused the coasters to be way too big for regular sized glasses.
So as I mentioned earlier, this turned out to be more of a wine bottle coaster size rather than a drink coaster size. Although there are probably some coffee mugs large enough to fit! Nonetheless, I liked how they turned out so my gift of coaster sets turned into a gift of a wine bottle coaster.
Having said all that, there really is nothing special about the size or materials used. The thickness is set because I happened to have some 3/8" thick Maple and Walnut scraps lying around my garage. You could buy or cut smaller cork disks and reduce the diameter to fit your own purposes. The possibilities are almost limitless, so the drawing is really just a place for you to get started.
I cut my coasters on my CNC router, but it could easily be done using handheld power tools. The outside shape can be cut using a scroll saw, band saw, or jig saw. You could also make a pattern and cut it with your router. Creating an inlay pocket for the cork disk is probably the more difficult part.
My suggestion would be to make an inside circle routing pattern out of 1/4" MDF or hardboard that matches the size and shape of your cork exactly. Then cut the pocket to the correct depth using a flush trim router bit. In fact, this same technique would be great for cutting the outside shape as well. If you need some information on how to use a router and router templates, check out the instructional videos elsewhere on this site.
I finished the wood before gluing in the cork disk. Maple and Walnut are pretty to me without any stain so I left mine natural. Depending on your preference and the type of wood you use, apply stain and then a clear finish to protect the wood. I used Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane in a clear satin finish. It was probably slight overkill using a product rated for outdoors, but I didn’t want any moisture to damage the wood.
The project was finished up by gluing the cork into the wood using water resistant wood glue. You might need to cut a wood circle the same size as the cork to use to clamp the pieces together while the glue dries. I used a couple of extra cork disks, but be careful not to use too much glue. Some excess glue squeezed out around the cork and stuck things together. I had a pretty tough time getting a couple of the coasters apart.
There really isn’t much to this project, but they turn out nice without a lot of fuss. Whenever you’re ready to build your own coasters, just click here to view the plans. If you prefer to download a copy to your computer, right click then "save-as". Either way, you'll need the Adobe reader to view the file.