Happiest of Holidays Everyone!
Looking for a fun up-cycling holiday gift to make? Well, consider your holiday wishes heard! In this project, we re-purpose those wine corks you have diligently collected and protected from being thrown away over the years AND learn to use the all mighty, all powerful…LASER CUTTER. A tool that is a life changer for any DIYer!
Drummer boy, please…pa rum pum pum pum…we are going to make Snowflake Wine Cork Coasters! Here’s how we made it…SoDo MakerSpace style.
- Wine corks (with diameters around the same size)
- Wood or hard cardboard for the coaster base
- Glue (we used wood glue)
- Calipers or a ruler able to measure in small increments such as centimeters (optional)
TOOLS (all available at SoDo MakerSpace)
- Inkscape – 2D CAD software (free/open source)
- Bandsaw or some kind of cutting device (to cut wine corks)
- Belt sander or sand paper (to clean up corks that have been cut)
- Laser cutter
1) Find the Average Cork Diameter
This might be a little overkill for some, but you will find that corks come in different diameters which can be hard to reconcile when gluing them onto your coaster base. This is especially important for this project where we made individual landings for each cork, trying to keep the triangular gaps between the corks on the coaster base material. We found measuring the diameters of the corks with a caliper or ruler helped find that one-diameter-fits-all-sweet-spot so that the corks fit onto the base nicely, with minimal overhang off of it.
Once you find the Average Diameter of the corks, record it. We will use this dimension to size the base of your coaster appropriately in Step 4 – Designing Your Coaster Base.
2) Cut Corks into Pucks
Cut the corks width-ways to your desired height making small “cork pucks.” We used a bandsaw with a fine tooth blade here as finer tooth blades make smoother cuts and reduce sanding time.
3) Sand the Cork Pucks
Sand the edges of the cork pucks to clean up frayed edges and uneven surfaces. We used a belt sander for this step for its speed and ease of use.
4) Design Your Coaster Base
Design the base of your coaster using the average diameter found in Step #1 in 2D CAD software. The software we used, Inkscape, outputs .svg files (Scalable Vector Graphic), which our Full Spectrum laser cutter reads best. Inkscape is an open source/free program, so it’s been our go to recommendation for most makers who are starting out and can’t or prefer not to go with the more expensive 2D CAD options.
In our coaster base design, we made individual landings for each cork using the average diameter dimension. As mentioned before, we wanted the coaster base to have the triangular gaps that the corks naturally make when pushed together, giving the coaster an illusion of light, airy-ness, as if its pieces are floating together.
5) Laser Cut Your Coaster Base
We used birch plywood with a thickness of 6mm as our coaster base. Below is a photo of the laser cutting the coaster base.
6) Glue Corks to Base
Apply glue to the cork puck bottoms and attach them to the individual cork landings on the coaster base. We played around with the cork color schemes, mixing in the natural cork and dyed wine cork ends.
HAZZAH! YOU HAVE FINISHED YOUR SNOWFLAKE WINE CORK COASTERS! ENJOY!
If you fancy a little larger coaster, you could try the design below. The design uses the above snowflake form, but adds a few more corks around the perimeter to make a larger snowflake pattern.