Wood Coaster Finish

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by Cheapguy82 posted 02-11-2018 06:46 PM 6304 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Cheapguy82's profile


83 posts in 1866 days

02-11-2018 06:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finish coaster question tip

I have been making some wood coasters, some engraved, and need some advice regarding a finish. While they all are currently done with some rattle can clear gloss stuff from the local hardware store, they seem to all be ending up with issues after a bit of use (see pics)...

Not all of them are end grain, but I am seeing this with them, too (not of these, but just to give you an idea of the stuff I’m talking about)...

Is there a finish that will be tough as nails, should I just go with some sort of oil and skip the gloss finish altogether, or is there another solution that I’m not thinking of?


-- Stephen - Georgia

9 replies so far

View patcollins's profile


1687 posts in 4198 days

#1 posted 02-11-2018 06:50 PM

Even just using wax on wood can give you something like this after sitting a cold drink on it.

The best way to avoid something like this with cans is something like this

With glasses would be an insulated glass.

That is the purpose of a coaster though, so your table doesn’t get damaged.

View tomsteve's profile


1184 posts in 2552 days

#2 posted 02-11-2018 07:01 PM

is the ‘rattle can clear gloss stuff” lacquer?
personally i use oil based poly. the ones i have on my tables get used a lot and have been active for 5 years.
satin finish,though. that hides the wear they receive.

View Woodknack's profile


13585 posts in 3713 days

#3 posted 02-11-2018 07:13 PM

No finish is the best finish, or oil. The purpose of a coaster is to protect the tabletop by catching condensation. If you apply a hard finish the water will puddle and either run off onto the table or stick the coaster to the glass so when they pick up the glass the coaster falls back onto the table. It’s why coasters are usually made from cork or absorbant stone, stuff like that.

-- Rick M,

View LesB's profile


3237 posts in 4776 days

#4 posted 02-11-2018 07:34 PM

Rick-M makes some good points and one of my wife’s biggest objections to smooth topped coasters. Without using some sort of absorbent material on the top to deal with the moisture there needs to be a rim and or a engraved relief pattern on it to channel the moisture and leave a vacuum break between the glass, moisture, and the coaster.

Aside from those complaints I would suggest using a hard salad bowl finish from Behlen’s or General. They call it “Salad Bowl finish”. It is a wipe on product I use on, you guessed it, salad bowls and other small items. Four coats is impervious to moisture, alcohol, and oil….at least for several hours, and it is easy to wipe on with a soft cloth or high quality paper towel. I’m pretty sure it is a polymerized lacquer of some sort so once the can is open you need to reseal it and remove the air (use one of those nitrogen spray cans for that) or put in a smaller container with little or no air or a film will develop on the surface. I usually repackage mine into small canning jars.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2921 posts in 4255 days

#5 posted 02-11-2018 07:43 PM

I have been using wipe on Poly on the cedar coasters I make. I have sold over 500 of them over the past three years and have had no complaints…yet. I like the idea of using an oil though.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View Luckyd0g's profile


5 posts in 52 days

#6 posted 11-27-2021 09:11 PM

I have made coasters using a combo of maple/walnut/cherry. I wanted them to last. I have used 4 coats of Butcher Block coating on the top side and 2 coats on the bottom. I put small felt pads on the bottom to protect the table top. The first 2 coats don’t look like much. The 3rd starts looking great and the 4th coat is awewome beautiful and shinny just what I wanted. Also because they are butcher block finish they are 100% water proof. I held them under running water for a quick clean. Hot coffee cups don’t stick to them. I have been using them multiple times a day for 3 years and they still look like I just made them.

-- Denise, La Broquerie MB, Canada

View therealSteveN's profile


9383 posts in 1907 days

#7 posted 11-27-2021 11:24 PM


-- Think safe, be safe

View splintergroup's profile


6330 posts in 2555 days

#8 posted 11-27-2021 11:44 PM

+1 on the poly.

Looks like moisture penetration is plaguing your coasters. You need a solid moisture barrier and poly is one of the best. Pin holes are like little straws that pull moisture through the finish.

I agree with Rick’s comment on vacuum break grooves. It is annoying when picking up a can-o-beer and having the coaster sucking to the can bottom. It doesn’t take much to eliminate the problem.

View xedos's profile


470 posts in 633 days

#9 posted 11-28-2021 02:02 PM

conversion varnish

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics