I currently find myself ankle-deep in walnut dust again as I am producing another round of pallet coasters, this time in Black Walnut. So how are these pallet coasters made? What goes into them? What material is used? Quite a lot actually!
Firstly, I strive to up-cycle the wood used to make all my pallet coasters whenever possible. As of this writing 100% of every Walnut Pallet Coaster I have created has been produced using up-cycled Black Walnut woods. The Black Walnut is either salvaged from local lumber suppliers, fellow woodworkers, fire wood piles or from my other products such as my wine tree wine racks.
Where pallet coasters are born.
The resulting salvage is a mess of assorted strips and blocks of wood that each has to be processed individually to the various component parts that make up each pallet coaster. This step takes a large amount of the total time that goes into each and every coaster and is a days-long process.
By the end of this step I have turned a mountain of walnut pieces into 4 smaller mountains of the parts needed to start building the pallet coasters. Following the Notched Stringer Pallet design these parts include the notched stringers, center bottom deckboard, bottom deckboards and top deckboard pieces.
Notched Stringers x3
Center Bottom Deckboard x1
Bottom Deckboards x2
Top Deckboards - Note Walnut's Beautiful Color Palette
The next step for the pallet coasters is to begin the assembly process and glue the bottom deckboards and the center bottom deckboard onto the bottom of the notched stringers to create the underside assembly of the pallet. Each deckboard is placed by hand and the alignment against the stringers is carefully set before allowing the glue to cure.
1st Stage of the Pallet Coaster Assembly Process - the Completed Bottom Assembly
The next step is to lay a bead of glue on top of each stringer and set each top deckboard onto the bottom assembly of the pallet coaster. Since each and every coaster is handmade the final spacing and color variation within each pallet coaster is different as well as the total number of top deckboards used.
The assembled pallet coasters with the top deckboards glued on.
When viewed from the top you can see some of the variation in the hand making process as the deckboards are slightly different lengths and thicknesses and have different spacing. To clean up some of this variation each coaster is lightly touched on a stationary sanding machine to flush up the edges and make sure the top deckboards hold drinks level.
After sanding the pallet coasters have their final shape and are ready for the finishing process.
After sanding each pallet coaster then two coats of varnish are applied to the top deckboards to give the pallet coasters additional protection from moisture and condensation during use. The varnishing process also brings out the natural colors and beauty in the Black Walnut woods used.
The varnishing process adds protection and brings the out the wood's natural color variations
As the final step in the crafting process each pallet coaster is turned over and branded upon their completion – these little guys are truly hand crafted!
So cheers to craft, cheers to handmade and cheers to a lifetime of good drinks and good company.