Making adorable Balsa Wood Coasters with Cricut
One of the most common questions people ask me is whether or not the cost of the Cricut is justifiable. What can you cut with it? That answer can take a long time to explain because there is a very long list of things you can cut with the Cricut. I’ve had mine for about a year now. I had a different cutting machine before I discovered my awesome Cricut. It is one of my very favorite craft tools and one that I use the most often for every type of craft from paper crafting to home decor. In the whole year that I’ve had it, I’ve never used the deep cut blade that I got at the same time as the machine. I decided that was time to change. I made the cutest custom Balsa wood coasters with my Cricut and the Deep Cut Blade! Yep, I cut wood with the Cricut!
*This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all my own. Affiliate links have been used. You won’t pay more for any products you purchase using my links, but I may receive compensation which helps keeps the Craft Shack Adventures going. You can read my full disclosure here.*
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own Balsa Wood Coasters:
- Cricut Explore Air Cutting Machine
- Cricut Explore® Deep Cut Blade With Housing
- Cricut® 12″ x 24″ StandardGrip Adhesive Cutting Mat
- Balsa Wood, 1/16 inch thick
- Cork Sheet (1/16 inch thick)
- Wood Glue
- Clear Spray Sealant
I found the Balsa wood a little bit tricky to work with. Hopefully, the things I learned in the process will help you! I found my 1/16 inch balsa wood sheets at Hobby Lobby in the hobby and toys section by the model cars. It felt like it was a little bit pricey. About $5.50 per sheet, but I could use a 40% off coupon on it, which made it more reasonable. One sheet will make a set of four coasters so for less than $5 that wasn’t a bad deal! You can also buy Balsa Wood Sheets in a bulk package on Amazon here. That works out to be a lot cheaper per sheet but I can’t vouch for the condition they will arrive in after shipping.
Cut out the flower shapes for the Coasters. I used two flowers from Design Space for my coasters:
I wanted the coasters to be about 4″x4″. Each coaster has three layers. The decorative flower cut and 2 of the standard flower shape cuts. I cut the standard flower shape once with the Balsa wood, and once with the sheet cork.
I used a custom setting to cut the balsa wood and the cork. To create a custom setting, set the dial on your machine to the “Custom” setting. Select “Change Material” and on the right, under the drop down menu you’ll see the option to “Edit Custom Materials.”
Click it, and scroll all the way down to the bottom where you will find a button that says “Add new material” Create a new setting. I labeled my custom setting “Balsa Wood 1/16 inch”. For the Balsa wood, I used a cut pressure of 224, with a 4x multi-cut and a deep cut blade.
I created a custom setting to cut the cork as well. I labeled it “Custom Cork” and I used a cut pressure of 250 with a 4x multi-cut and a standard blade. Both the balsa wood and the cork used a standard grip mat and I found it easiest to use the 12×24 inch mat with the long balsa board.
There were a few areas when the blade goes against the grain in the curved lines where it didn’t quite pass through all the way. A sharp Xacto knife will fix it quickly when you’re freeing the shapes from the wood board. An emery board (Like the kind you use on your fingernails) is great for smoothing any rough edges gently.
After the shapes are cut, I added some color to my coasters! I wanted to keep the natural wood grain look, but I wanted some color too. I painted the plain flower shape with Acrylic Craft Paint and when you put the decorative cut flower shape over the colored plain shape, you can see the pretty color through the flower cutouts! It was the perfect amount of color to peek through the pretty natural wood.
*Tip: Balsa wood does not like to get wet. Paint is wet. The wood will curl up slightly when you paint it. Lay it on a flat surface to dry, and as it dries it will flatten back out. The paint will help to seal that layer of the wood some as well.
Glue the three layers together. The cork on the bottom, then the painted flower shape, with the decorative cut shape on the top. I used wood glue to secure the three layers together.
*Tip: When you glue the two balsa wood layers together, mix up the grain. If you lay the painted flower shape with the grain going left to right, and the decorative flower shape on top of it with the grain going up and down the flower shape will be stronger when glued together. Balsa wood is very soft, and a little bit fragile. Varying the grains when you glue them together adds stability.
While the glue is drying, place a flat heavy object over your coasters to help them dry flat (glue is wet, too). I set a book on each coaster while the glue dried.
We’ve established several times so far that Balsa wood does not like to get wet. It might seem like a silly material to use as a drink coaster if it doesn’t like to be wet, right? There are ways around that though! After the wood glue has dried, use your favorite clear spray sealer to seal the coasters. Spray the coasters with at least three coats of the spray sealer. The coasters tried to curl a little after the first coat of sealer. I let the first coat dry, and then I laid them under a heavy book again for a little bit to flatten them back out. They did not curl anymore on the subsequent sealings.
Since the coaster has three layers, the thin balsa wood is plenty sturdy. Mix and match the colors to go with your decor and personal style. I think they would be really pretty with the middle layer stained instead of painted as well!
With enough coats of the clear sealer on the coasters, they seem to hold up to the condensation and wetness that comes with cold and warm drinks perfectly well. I love the natural wood look with the little pop of colors peeking through too and I especially love that my coaster set is one of a kind!