Click the Open in Easel button and copy the project over. Have a look at how it is set up and then come back to these instructions and read fully to understand the how it all works.
If you have gone with the 12″×6″ Walnut that is listed in the bill of materials, then you will want to think through these instructions knowing that you will probably only do 2 coasters at a time. You can fit 3 if you are careful about how they are cut out.
Check that you have your clamping method ready, and your materials on hand. Have some clamps on hand as well as some glue. PVA glue (wood glue or Elmer’s school glue works well) and or 2 part epoxy. Also, some Tung Oil or Salad Bowl Oil is a good finish for these coasters, but you will want to have on hand whatever finish you have chosen.
If you plan to use something as an insert on the bottom like cork, then you will want to have that cut and ready to go as well.
Tip: be sure to measure the exact width of the cutting part of your specific end mill. A 1/16" end mill will not necessarily have an exact .0625" cutting diameter… in my case it is more like .065"…
Set this cutting diameter in “Bit Size” under the “Machine” menu and confirm it when carving.
This will help with getting that flush and precise accuracy that you are hoping to achieve.
Clamp down your first piece of material.
In the BOM I list walnut as this option and it makes a great contrast to the hard wood maple that is suggested as the second part of the inlay.
Note: in the pictures I am using a wood native to New Zealand called Rimu and it machines very much like walnut.
In Easel, you may want to tweak your speeds and feeds for the specific type of wood that you are using, but I would suggest that conservative numbers are chosen seeing that the inlay will match up based on how detailed and precise your carve is.
The Easel project is already set up with all four coasters ready to carve in walnut if you have a big enough piece to carve.
Carve the pockets to a .12" depth and the outlines all the way to just .002" less than the thickness of the material.
Use a 1/16th" 2 Flute End Mill (provided in the end mill starter kit).
Break these coasters apart or cut them apart with a sharp knife… you will machine the bottoms in a later step, but using a bit of sand paper, clean up any rough edges on the bottom now.
Pro Tip: If you happen to have a V-Bit or a Point Round Over Bit then you can use the path for the outline cut, to carve a chamfer or fillet on the line around each coaster to get that extra finishing touch. Just carve it .02" deeper than you want the final depth to be.
Ok, now comes a bit more complication.
You will be editing the project, so you may want to make a copy of the project if you plan to repeat this at a later date.
- Start this step by deleting the borders on the coasters.
- Next flip horizontally each coaster inlay
- Create a square that covers all of the inlays with at least 1/16 space all around
– This square will be set to .12" depth and will match the depth of the pockets cut in the previous step
- Select all
- Holding the shift key, deselect the square that you just made, leaving all of the inlay pieces selected
- Edit > Copy
- Delete those pieces
- Edit > Paste
- Reposition the inlay pieces over the square
- Set the inlay pieces to a depth of 0.000"
You should be ready to clamp and carve your light colored material using the same 1/16th" 2 Flute End Mill.
Once finished, do the same as the last step and cut these pieces apart into the 4 different coaster parts.
Getting ready to glue the inlays into the pockets, you will want to lightly sand the faces that will be glued together to ensure the best fit.
I do this by placing a sheet of 150 grit sand paper down flat on a flat surface and holding it down. Then with the other hand moving the piece being sanded on the sand paper holding it flat and evenly pressed down to the sand paper to achieve the best finish.
If you have been careful up until now, you should find this part quite satisfying.
In the pockets, place a small amount of glue in each area carved out (not too much glue is needed because the inlays should be a tight fit and you don’t want the glue discoloring the edge between the inlay and the pocket) I learned this part the hard way
Line up the inlay with the correct pocket and then begin to gently press it into place. Move your pressure around evenly and you should find that each pocket and inlay will start to sort of click into place.
Once you have all of the inlays starting to slide into their respective pockets, you will want to apply more pressure evenly across each coaster.
Now get some scrap wood, or other piece of flat material that will help spread the pressure, and clamp the inlay down into the pockets and let it set for a few hours or over night. (repeat for all coasters)
There are many ways to do this.
You could use a drum sander or a thickness planer, or even a hand held sander or joiner, but I don’t have most of these and the thought of sitting there with a hand sander and trying to get everything level and clean… ugh.
In comes the X-Carve to the rescue.
In either a separate project or in the same one you are working in, you want to create a square that will mill the excess inlay base off and also go as far as .02" into the top surface of the coaster to make everything nice and clean. (this is the reason the pockets were cut to a depth of .12" – so as to leave .02" for waste to carve off)
Use a 1/8" Straight 2 Flute bit to perform this task to save time and you can also set your depth per pass to a higher number as long as the final depth is shallow. Preview tool-paths to tweak this to your preference.
Tip: If you set up a right angle jig to butt your coasters into and up against, you can use cam clamps to hold them into place and reuse the project’s home position to increase efficiency in an assembly line sort of way. See the images for a little more detail.
In this step you will basically use the same square that you carved in the previous step.
Just set it to the depth of cut that will leave you with the final thickness of the coaster.
You will also want to add any shape pocket to this step so that you have a nice recess to place your cork in or whatever material you’ve chosen for the bottom of your coasters.
You can see how my bottom pocket turned out in the image below:
This step will vary based on what you have chosen the finish to be, but I chose to go with a Tung Oil based Salad Bowl oil.
I just wiped an even coat of this stuff on with a rag and then wiped off the excess 45 min to and hour later. Then I let the coasters sit for close to 72 hours.
I chose this finish because it brings out the grain of the wood and adds to the contrast in the inlay. It is also “food safe” not that you’ll be eating off of them, but you never know when a baby just grabs one and starts putting it into it’s mouth. Finally I chose this because if the wood was sealed by other methods the condensate water on the glass that the coaster was holding would roll right off and onto the surface that the coaster was supposed to be protecting.
Now is time to glue on the base of your coasters.
For this step I used some pre-cut rounded squares that I already had laying around, but it is pretty easy to cut these shapes out of the cork listed in the BOM.
I also chose to go with a patchy application of two part epoxy. Patchy to let any fluid soak through to the cork as a last stop protection of the surface the coaster is on, and epoxy to not dissolve due to said fluid.
Use paper in-between each coaster in a stack of coasters to save on the number of clamps used in this step and also be sure not to clamp too hard and squeeze all of the glue out onto the other parts of the coasters.