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Forest Oak Coasters

A couple of years back the Central Coast was hit by a massive storm. In addition to knocking down our fence, the extreme high winds and rain also brought down a tree. That tree happened to be a Forest Oak (allocasuarina torulosa), the timber of which has an unbelievably beautiful grain to it and which I felt it would be a shame to let go to waste.

After leaving it sat in the shed for a couple of years, I finally got around to getting my saw out to cut a chunk out of the trunk.

Set of four forest oak coasters
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Cut a section out of the tree trunk

This section of the tree would then become what I would use to create a set of beautiful wooden coasters from scratch. How did I do it? Well, it’s actually a fairly simple process.

First, because I wanted to make a coaster to show off the grain of the wood, I cut a length of the trunk that was roughly the right size.

In this picture you can also see one of the major problems with working with Forrest Oak. It has a terrible tendency to split as it dries out. Why does it do this? Well, I believe it is down to the distinctive grain.

When it’s growing, the tree stores moisture in special channels that run through its wood. These channels make up the pattern in the grain however due to their high moisture content, as they dry out they shrink. It is this shrinking that makes the wood split.

Next, the idea is to upend it and make cuts along its length with the grain.

You could also just cut slices off the end of the wood to make a nice round coaster if you’d prefer. It’s a simpler process but with this kind of wood cutting along the grain looks a lot better.

slice the wood
Sand down the coasters

Next, it’s time to get out the sandpaper. And use it to smooth both sides of the coaster as well as to make sure it’s square and the same size as the other coasters in the set. Of course, having a belt sander makes the job a lot quicker and easier but you can do it by hand if you have too.

To finish off the coasters, all that remains to do is to give them a couple of coats of waterproof varnish and stick some non slip pads onto the base of each piece. The non slip pads are optional but if you intend to use the coasters on a hard surface such as a wooden or glass table top I’d recommend them.

Non slip pads on coaster
Set of four forest oak coasters

That’s it really, a couple of hours work and you have a beautiful set of coasters that will last a lifetime. Personally, we use these in our house but I have also given away a couple of sets as gifts to family and friends too when something shop bought just didn’t feel personal enough.

More examples of coaster sets I have made

Five Piece Wooden Coaster Set  Four Piece Wooden Coaster Set

Current Comments

1 comments so far (post your own)

what type of sealer do u use to keep it from a ring on the coaster from a cold drink?

Posted by Kay Freed on Friday, 24.08.12 @ 00:33am

Hi I use polyurethane to seal the coasters. It seems to work very well as they have not marked with fairly constant use and can be wiped clean whenever they need it. Cheers Martin

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