As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.
I've made square coasters before, and they're fun, but I decided that I wanted to make some hexagon shaped coasters.
I first did some research online and I found an awesome looking jig design on the diymontreal youtube channel HERE.. However, I just want to make a few coasters, once. I'm not thinking I need to make this (admittedly super looking) complex jig. I kept looking and found another video from the BuildersSA channel (HERE) that showed a much simpler method using mostly the mitersaw, and I took most of my inspiration from there.
For wood, I had these striped cutoffs from a recent cutting board project. I had already resawed them in half, so they were about 1/4" or so thick, and ready to be turned into coasters. I also got out some scrap plywood of a similar size to use as a practise piece, and to make the fence/stop that we'll need.
Just as an aside, the thickness of the hexagon does not really matter. They can be as thick or as thin as you want.
I first ripped all the stock down to a width of 3-1/2". This will give me 3-1/2" wide coasters, which I think is a good size. And this should be the last time I touch any other power tool except for the miter saw.
On the miter saw I set and locked the blade to 30-degrees. I then cut off a piece about six inches to the left of the blade. The chunk on the right will be used for our first practise pieces.
I added another scrap of plywood to that cuttof, attached to it at 90 degrees. I needed to do that as I need a way to clamp this cutoff into place and that works the best on my saw.
On the practise piece I marked a center line, and then cut to that line. I took progressive cuts, to sneak up as close to that center point as possible. That angled cut is going to be the length of one side of your hexagon
I then rotated the practise piece against my fence and used it as a spacer. The idea is that I place the sawblade against the right side, and then position my stop on the left side, and clamp it firmly in place. This sets the size of the hexagon that you are cutting.
(Next Two Photos:) I then proceeded to cut a practise hexagon using my practise piece of plywood, and then a second. With the success of that, I could proceed.
Here then is the step-by-step process of making a hexagon, using one of my "good" pieces of wood.
Using the test pieces, I determined that I could cut two hexagons from each piece. I thought the more visually interesting wood would be from the middle section. So, I positioned the test pieces, and make a pencil mark to show my first cut.
I then rotate it 30 degrees counter-clockwise, position it against the stop/fence and make the third cut.
I then rotate it 30 degress counter-clockwise again, and do NOT need to make a cut. This is the very first cut we made. (I just pause here in the video to show that I don't need a cut.)
One final 30 degree counter-clockwise rotation, and I make the fourth and final cut. The first hexagon is complete.
I then put the first hexagon aside (see it in my left hand) and then slide the workpiece over and repeat the previous cutting and rotating steps for the second hexagon.
Full disclosure: Here are the eight hexagons that I created. As you can see, they are not perfectly identical.
It is possible that my hand moved a bit while holding the workpiece, or maybe the workpiece slipped a bit as the blade pushed in. Or maybe something else... it was, after all, just a hand held cutting operation at a miter saw.
But still, after some sanding and cleanup, I am sure that they will be sufficiently identical.
Now that we've made the 30-degree stop/fence, we can use the same setup to make other hexagons of a different size. The limitation is the cutting capacity of the miter saw. In my case, I can only cut a piece that is about Five inches wide, so that is the largest hexagon that I could make using this method.
When I make coasters, I like to make a storage box to go with it. I was not planning to show this in the video or this article, as I've done so in a previous project video.
However, I realized that hexagons require a bit of extra work when making a vertical storage box. If you place them so that one flat edge is down, then when you try to grasp one to pull out of the box, then you are grasping by the angled edges, and it is difficult to get a grip on the piece.
Instead, I built a storage box and sized it for the coasters to be stored "point down". To support them, I then needed to add some vertical ramps inside the box, as shown in this photo.
I just placed a coaster on the edge of a block of wood, and traced it to get the angle of the piece needed.
(In this photo I'm placing the hexagon coaster alongside the storage box side, but I then placed it on that block of wood that is at the bottom of the photo, traced the triangular shapes needed, and cut them out on the bandsaw.)
And yes, I realize that using the bandsaw now takes this project out of the "just two tools" category. In my defence, I did only use the tablesaw and miter saw for the actual hexagons...
With the triangular supports glued into the storage box, the hexagon coasters are now positioned such that there are vertical edges that can be easily gripped by your fingers, as shown here.
Here are some photos of the completed project.
I used 3-4 coats of polyurethane to finish the coasters, sanding lightly between coats. Being a coaster, these are designed for damp glasses to be placed on them, so I strongly recommend a film finish like polyurethan, for it's water resistance.
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