For use or display.13
1 My wife and I wanted new coasters, having thrown our others away after the children smashed or weaponized them, but I’m both cheap and picky, and we didn’t really want coasters enough to bother with an online search, let alone looking through pop-up shops in Brooklyn, so I made some in the backyard one day while the kids played Little House on the Prairie and had me pretending to be Pa Ingalls. We ended up with four because my arm wore out at three, but that didn’t even cover having both members of a couple over for drinks (not that that ever happens without their children coming to treat our living room like rock stars at a Best Western). Maybe we can convince one to go on a beverage fast.
2 I’m 55% sure the tall, fractal-y thing in our front yard the wood came from is a sugar maple. At least its got pointy leaves and seed pod spinners that could clog the Lincoln Tunnel faster than rush hour.
3 My seven- and four-year-olds wanted to help as soon as I started sawing, so they held the branch down on our behemoth outdoor, plastic storage bin with hands just close enough to my saw that I pictured cutting entire fingers off. Also, physical danger and sawing seem pioneery.
4 It’s made to order by my specifications. Although, while sawing, I didn’t wear my logger-flannel shirt that’s been hanging in the basement for eight years. Plus, I only made the one set. Shoot, I only made this one thing out of wood, ever.
5 We have a power rotary saw, but I never get the depth settings right and it scares me, so I tried my hand saw with the tiny teeth.
6 I used the branch that had to be cut down because it reached over the power lines again. This was after climbing the tree, mind you, and dangle-sawing with the big teeth version of the saw mentioned above.
7 The branch sat in the backyard for two years, usually covered by snow and rotting leaves. It did have some breaks in the summer when my girls used it as a hurdle, a horse, a castle wall, and an animal carcass brought home for dinner.
8 I didn’t want to get muddy, and my older daughter likes carrying stuff around, so I stayed on the no-longer-protectively-stained deck while she picked it as the best sized branch in the yard for coasters.
9 Our tree is maybe thirty years old? I’m guessing the branches develop one ring per year like the tree once they start growing. I keep losing count of the rings anyway.
10 I painted a layer of polyurethane on it, which is almost shellac, like my wife’s carpenter grandfather coated everything with — seven or eight layers worth. At least, that’s when he wasn’t moving walls around for kicks. I just hope I put on enough to limit some rotting from the condensation on the coasters, without making them so waterproof that it totally defeats the purpose of a coaster.
11 The bark fell off when I cut the coaster slices off the branch, but it looked cool, so I tried to glue it back on. I couldn’t find wood glue in our basement, so I gave it a shot with some plastic wood filler I’d used on our kitchen cabinets, but that didn’t hold. I finally found the wood glue on the shelves near the dryer, behind the plumbing snake, right after I’d bought a new bottle.
12 First it was a seed, second it was part of a tree, third my kids played with the branch, and now it’s a coaster set. Sounds like four purposes to me. It’ll all decompose someday, except maybe the polyurethane.
13 They’ve sat in a pile on our kitchen counter ever since I made them.
14 All that work? No way I’m giving these away as a housewarming gift, or making more for anyone else.