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Quick and Dirty DIY: Drink Coasters

DIY Drink Coasters

Drink coasters are incredibly convenient, and also incredibly easy to make yourself. This is a great DIY project that lets you use up some of those craft supply scraps you may have around, and can also make a nice housewarming gift. Here’s how you make DIY drink coasters.

I am not a very meticulous housekeeper, but I’ve been spotting a lot of coffee cup rings on my furniture lately for some reason. So I made a mental note to get some coasters. Then, a couple days ago, I was feeling restless and not wanting to work on some of my bigger, more ambitious projects. So I decided to make some drink coasters.

DIY Drink Coasters

I chose some craft paper that I like, and that already has a distressed, asymmetrical design. The design of the paper itself will help to hide coffee rings while they are in use. This would be a great project for using up smaller scraps of paper that you like, but don’t have enough of to do a larger project.

How to Make DIY Drink Coasters

The main consideration when making DIY drink coasters is that I wanted them to feature this craft paper, but I need them to be water-resistant. They can’t be damaged by small drips of coffee, or by condensation from cold beverages. So the construction incorporates three layers of water-resistance, to make them functional as well as easier to clean.

To make my coasters, I followed these steps:

  1. Cut out a circle from cardboard that is the size you want for your coasters
  2. Use that cardboard circle as a template to trace and cut four more cardboard circles
  3. Trace and cut five circles out of scrap sheets of plastic (I used lids from yogurt containers)
  4. Use sandpaper to buff your plastic circles on both sides, roughing up the surface so they will be more receptive to glue
  5. Glue the plastic circles to the cardboard circles
  6. Cut circles out of a heavier craft paper for the base
  7. Glue the base paper in place
  8. Cut circles out of a decorative paper for the top
  9. Glue the top paper in place

As I was gluing all of these layers together, I was constantly placing a large book over my circles, so that they would dry flat at every stage.

To make the coasters water resistant:

  1. Cut circles out of a self-adhesive clear plastic sheet
  2. Stick the clear plastic sheet over your top craft paper layer
    1. I lightly buffed my plastic sheet with sandpaper to dull the gloss, so that it wouldn’t be reflective, and the paper pattern would show best in all lighting conditions.
  3. Cut strips of paper and glue them around the edges, concealing the layers. I used quilling paper for this, but I should have cut it in half before gluing; I glued and then trimmed, and, because my craft knife wasn’t sharp enough, you can see a few ragged edges in the finished project. Learn from my mistake and trim the paper to height before attaching.
  4. Cover the sides and bottom with a waterproof varnish. I used a matte finish brush on waterproof varnish. The instructions said to apply three layers, but your varnish may vary.

Then I decided to make felt feet so they would glide more easily. I did this by cutting circles out of some scrap felt and attaching them to the bottom with double-stick tape.

My felt color doesn’t match, but it’s what I had on hand

Because these have a waterproof varnish on the sides and bottom, and a clear sheet of adhesive plastic film on top, I can easily wipe them clean with a damp cloth. Of course you couldn’t immerse them in water to clean them.

The inside plastic layer protects the cardboard from bigger spills, and also provides some thermal projection in case I use them with very hot or cold beverages; hopefully the plastic lids keep the cardboard from flattening or warping over time.

All in all, this took about 3 hours in one evening, and then another hour the following day for varnishing. I’m pretty happy with how they came out. If I were to make a set to give as a gift, I would:

  • Use my circle cutter instead of tracing and cutting. If I had used my circle cutter, the shapes would be more perfect.
  • Trim the paper edge to height before gluing it down. My quick-and-dirty glue-then-trim approach left me with some ragged edges.
  • Find a matching color of felt to use for the feet
  • Make a nice cylindrical container for them

However, they work really well and I haven’t had a coffee ring on my desk since! So it’s a success!

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