Repurposing Leftover Wood Scraps into Quirky Coasters
As a woodworker, I often end up with small leftover pieces of wood after finishing a project. Instead of throwing them away, I’ve found some creative ways to repurpose these wood scraps into fun and functional items like coasters.
The first step is collecting wood scraps suitable for coasters. I rummage through my workshop and gather pieces that are:
Flat – They need to sit flush against a tabletop. Warped or curved pieces won’t work.
Smooth – Rough sawn or textured wood can damage tables. I sand pieces until smooth.
Thin – Thinner woods like 1/4″ ply or boards work best. Thick scraps don’t make good coasters.
Small – Ideal sizes range from 3″ to 5″ squares. Anything larger gets bulky.
Dry – Moisture can damage surfaces, so only use kiln dried woods.
I also grab any stains, paints, or finishes I want to use to decorate the coasters. Polyurethane is a must to protect and seal the wood.
Cutting and Shaping the Wood
With my materials gathered, it’s time to cut and shape the coasters. I start by making sure all pieces are square using a miter saw or table saw.
I like experimenting with different shapes beyond just squares and rectangles. A jigsaw works well to cut circles, triangles, waves, or other freehand shapes. The key is keeping pieces small and uniform in size.
Sand all edges smooth after cutting to prevent splinters. I sand up to 220 grit for a refined finish.
Now for the fun part – decorating the coasters! I use various techniques to make each one unique:
Staining – Using different stain colors like cherry, walnut, or ebony creates depth. I wipe on gel stains using a rag for easy application.
Painting – Acrylic craft paints allow me to get creative with patterns. Dots, stripes, geometric shapes, or abstract designs all work.
Burning – A wood burning tool lets me burn designs like initials or borders into the wood. It takes a steady hand but makes for sophisticated results.
Inlay – For a snazzy look, I inlay wood veneers, crushed stones like turquoise, or even guitar picks into the surface. Possibilities are endless!
Sealing and Protecting
The final step is applying a protective finish to seal and protect the coasters. I prefer brushing on polyurethane for the smoothest, most durable finish.
I apply 2-3 thin coats, sanding lightly between each one. This helps the finish build up slowly and evenly. I’m careful to coat all surfaces and edges thoroughly to prevent moisture damage.
Once the finish has fully cured, my upcycled wood scrap coasters are ready to grace tables and prevent drink rings! Their handmade uniqueness also makes them meaningful gifts for friends and family.
Beyond the basics, many creative variations are possible:
Make puzzle piece coasters by cutting the wood into interconnect shapes. So fun to piece together!
Add rubber feet on the bottom for grip and to protect surfaces.
Use a router to carve grooves or textures into the wood.
Combine wood scraps together in a mosaic or checkerboard pattern for visual interest.
Insert magnets on the bottom so the coasters stick to metal surfaces.
With a little imagination and effort, those leftover wood scraps can be given fresh life as one-of-a-kind coasters that spruce up any space.