I’m not a full time craftsperson. I wish I were, but in reality, a lot of my job is spent on the computer, editing, emailing, designing, and doing all the other admin work that comes along with running a DIY website.
As much as I’d like to dedicate entire days to be spent in the workshop, the truth is – I’m lucky if I can get there for an hour or two a day. And since I work from home, it can be hard to shut off the laptop and hold off on switching the laundry and all the other responsibilities that prevent me from getting creative.
So, I’ve taken to an intentional act of transition, where I do specific actions to help me clear my mind and focus on my craft. The most impactful action I take is putting on a uniform. I enter the shop and change my clothes, Mr. Rogers-style. I put on my work boots and my denim shop apron, and now I’m no longer an editor, but a maker. If only for an hour.
I especially like when I can start and complete an entire project in my limited shop time, so I’m always raiding my scrap bins to see what I can create. Recently, I came across an odd length of chechen wood, and within forty-five minutes, I’d turned it into a set of stout wooden coasters. Here’s how you can make your own, too.
To clean up the machine marks on the surface, as well as to create an even thickness, I took several passes through the planer. This brought the wood down to just under 5/8” thick. Anything between 3/8” up to 3/4” would work great for coasters.
Next, I began to cut the wood to size. Whenever I rip a piece of hardwood, or cut along the grain down its length, I like to begin at the band saw, and then cut it to final size on the table saw. This helps relieve any tension in the board, making sure the cut at table saw (which is much more intense and powerful than the thin blade of the band saw) is nice and safe.
Then, I make a final pass on the table saw to create a width of 3 7/8”. This helps to remove the rougher machine marks from band saw blade, and make sure everything is nice and square.
Next, I square up the end, and lay out a mark for my crosscut at 3 7/8”, the same as my board’s width.
Now it’s time to cut the individual coasters to size from the length. I could do this easily with the table saw or miter saw, but whenever I have simple crosscuts like this where getting the exact right length doesn’t matter, I like to practice my hand sawing skills. Each cut takes less than a minute, and it helps me build muscle memory.
The final coaster becomes a 3 7/8” square. I was able to cut eight coasters from my board, which started around 35” long.
To give them a finished look, I began by knocking down the sharp corners with a block place.
And then I sanded the edges and sides to round all corners with 120 grit paper. After that, I smoothed it with 180 then 220 grit.
Lastly, I finished the coasters with two coats of a wipe-on oil, and, after it cured, a coat of paste wax. Since these are designed to come in contact with water, the wax will help seal the wood.
Now that the power tools are off, it’s time to celebrate a job well done with a sip of whisky. Cheers.