DIY Coasters Tutorial: An Awesome Wood Set That Lasts (Even the Bark!)

I’m absolutely in love with these DIY coasters. I made them for my brother-in-law last year and he said it’s probably one of the best gifts he’s ever gotten (yessss!). For one, they’re “real” (because you know, everything else in this world these days is “faux” or “virtual”). Reason two, they’re a high quality, personalized (not to mention cool), and handmade gift that has really passed the test of time. And three, he actually uses them!

That’s what HE said, not me. 🙂

Ready to make your own set?

DIY coasters, DIY birthday gifts, birthday gifts

DIY Coasters Supplies:

  1. Wooden branch
    Mine was a pine branch cut off a tree about 1-2 months earlier… there was still moss on the bark which looked *fantastic* when the coasters were done.
  2. Handsaw
  3. Sandpaper …AND a sander if you want it done fast
  4. Paper (to print on)
  5. Tape
  6. Sharpie marker
  7. Wood burner and tips
    Any wood burner should do the trick. Just make sure it has the fusing tip (teardrop-shaped) or at least a universal tip (rounded).
  8. Clear polyurethane (satin or high gloss finish)
  9. Paintbrush

Step 1: Cut Some Happy Little Rounds

DIY coasters, DIY birthday gifts, birthday gifts

Start by cutting your branch into 4 or more round slices. My branch was about 4.5 (ish) inches wide.

My husband cut these with his chainsaw… that left them terribly rough (as you can see in that picture). I cut some later with a handsaw and that was *much* better.

Step 2: Give Them A Quick Sanding

DIY Coasters - how to make

If you cut them with the handsaw, you can sand them by hand and they’ll smooth out no problem.

If you used the chainsaw to cut your rounds (like I did), your sanding job might not be that quick… and the sander will be a must. 😉

DIY Coasters - How to Make

Here they are after the sanding. Pretty eh? I left the bark on the rounds because I thought it looked more manly… and these were for my brother-in-law after all. 

Step 3: Prep Your Design

DIY Coasters - How to make

Draw or print off your design and tape it lightly to the place you want it to be in the end.

My brother-in-law loves music, so music symbols were a perfect fit for him. When I made a set for another family, I printed off words like “yum” and “cheers” in cool fonts (like Angel Tears or Bleeding Cowboys which are *awesome* free fonts).

DIY Coasters - Tracing

Use your sharpie to trace the outline of your shape onto your wood.

If you use a fine-tipped marker as I did, you may have to go slowly to let the ink bleed through the paper.

Step 4: Burn It Baby!

DIY Coasters - Burning

Just fill in your traced lines with your wood burner. I had the best luck with the fusing tip (it’s that little teardrop/leafy shape in the photo) although the all-purpose tip was a solid 2nd choice.

Let me just say, the welcoming aroma of burnt pine was amazing! (Can you tell I’m a bit of a pyro?)

Step 5: Protect Those Puppies

DIY Coasters - Polyurethane

I used a strong bristled (and uh… well used) paintbrush to slather a good coat of clear semi-gloss polyurethane on the wood.

DIY Coasters - Polyurethane

Follow the instructions on the can. I let my first coat dry overnight and then applied a second coat. When I was done with the top and the sides – especially the bark – I coated the bottom too.

And when I say I covered the bark, I mean I COVERED that bark!

When I applied the first coat, I noticed bubbles coming up. So I popped them with my paintbrush and made sure the bristles of my brush pushed that polyurethane down where the bubble came up.

After the second coat I did the same thing.

Keep checking for bubbles until you get that bark completely covered.You don’t want the bark to dry out and flake off of the pretty DIY coasters you worked so hard to make.

(optional step)
Add padding if you think it needs it…

When my coasters dried, I realized that the polyurethane on the bottom raised the coasters perfectly off the counter. They sat flat and smooth without damaging the tabletop, so I didn’t need to add the little felt pads.

But if you’re nervous about it, grab some self-adhering felt pads (the sticker kind that you put on furniture feet) and stick them to the bottom of your coasters.

Three felt pads per coaster does the trick.

Step 6: Wrap It Up

Coasters Closeup

Ooooo, look at them in their rustic glory! I love the way the color in the bark and wood grain really pop under the dried polyurethane. It’s time to see that hard-earned reaction!

Don’t let the wrapping be a kill-joy.

I tied my DIY coasters in a simple black satin ribbon and put it in a gift bag along with a pub cup. (I couldn’t resist that mustache!)

His reaction? Priceless my friends. Priceless.

Coasters Wrapped Up

Epilogue: 1 Year Later

It’s been a year since I gave Troy those DIY coasters. So I called him to see how they were holding up. His words:

They’re awesome. They look the way they did when I first opened them up and I use them all the time. Probably one of the best gifts I ever got. I love those things man!

They look the way they did when I first opened them up and I use them all the time.


Insert proud grin here. That’s exactly what I want to hear.

More DIY Birthday Gift Ideas

DIY Flip Flops Gift For Men

DIY Can Cake

You are Here

Birthday Gifts › DIY Gifts › DIY Coasters