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DIY Nontoxic Wood Stain (with wood coaster tutorial!)

These easy wood coasters with a DIY nontoxic wood stain are so cute and perfect for rustic decor! 

Somewhere in our apartment we have two sets of washable fabric coasters but, as the Aussies would say, most of them have gone on walkabout. Something we definitely do not have a shortage of is wood scraps, so I decided to make us some new coasters.

These DIY nontoxic stained wood coasters have a cute rustic vibe that’s perfect for fall and they’re an easy way to start working with wood!

DIY Nontoxic Stained Wood Coasters Tutorial

This post may include affiliate links, which means I may make a commission on purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. 

As regular readers know, finding nontoxic alternatives to ‘conventional’ products is important to me; it’s why I love chalk paint and make my own air fresheners.

Most wood stains have some really nasty stuff in them, so I decided to read up on on DIY nontoxic wood stains and experiment! If you have a well-ventilated area and don’t mind using conventional, oil-based wood stains, then feel free to use them if you’d prefer.

However, if you have a confined space and/or would prefer to make your own very inexpensive, nontoxic wood stain, it’s super easy!

Materials for DIY nontoxic stained wood coasters

  • Wood! I used a 1/4″ which scrap of aspen that’s been sitting around for 2+ years. 1/4″ birch plywood would also be a good choice, as would 1/2″x4″ ‘common board’ pine.
    • If you don’t have a table saw, circular saw, or band saw and you’re buying a new board, a thinner, 4″ board easy to work with because you can simply make cross cuts with a hand saw.
    • If you’d prefer to use plywood, ask the store to make a cut at 3.5″ for you so you can then cut the narrow strip by hand.
    • If you have no desire to use any saws, consider purchasing precut wood slices or something like these 3.5″ precut plywood squares.
  • A saw. I used our tabletop 9″ band saw. If you’re using a hand saw, I recommend getting a miter box & saw. A miter box makes straight cuts way easier and helps protect your fingers!
  • Sandpaper, if your board is rough.
  • A ruler
  • A pencil
  • Felt – optional but it’s nice to cushion the coaster’s bases!
  • Glue, if you’re using felt. I used Original Tacky Glue.
  • Scissors
  • Ingredients for a DIY non-toxic wood stain
    • Extra fine steel wool (I used 0000)
    • Vinegar (ACV works well, but plain distilled white vinegar is fine, too)
    • A glass bowl or jar
    • The longer you allow your stain to age, the darker it will become. About a cup of vinegar and one pad of steel wool will make more than enough stain for this project.
  • If you don’t feel like making your own vinegar stain, check out my all-natural wood polish tutorial right here!

DIY Non-toxic stained wood coasters tutorial

How to make your own non-toxic wood stain:

To make your stain, combine vinegar and steel wool in a glass jar I like to lightly pull the steel wool apart to encourage it to dissolve more quickly.

  • For a light grey, ‘weathered barn wood’ look, let the stain sit for a few hours or just a day or so (test a little periodically to see if you like the results)
  • To achieve a darker, brownish/red stain for future use, place the stain in a jar and let it age for about a week. The stain may not look very “stain-y” and that’s okay. This is what my stain looked like right before I used it:
  • Once you like how your stain looks when applied you can strain it through a cloth to remove the remaining bits of steel wool and store it in a jar for use later

Measure and mark your wood where it needs to be cut.

  • If you purchased a 4″ board, see how wide it really is and make your marks so you’ll end up with square coasters.
  • If you’re cutting a thin board or piece of plywood, mark off 3.5″ squares.
  • If you’re using a power saw with a fence or built in ruler, this may not be necessary, but I like to go ahead and mark the board, anyway. My husband is a big fan of the saying “Think three times, measure twice, cut once” and I’ve definitely messed up a few things by not measuring twice!

Carefully cut your wood, then sand, if necessary. You may want to only sand the cut edges and leave rough spots on the faces for a more rustic look – it’s up to you!

When your stain is ready, apply a fairly thin, even coat to one face and the edges. Allow the stain to dry, then stain the opposite face. If you’re using an aged, natural stain with vinegar the color may deepen and develop as it dries.

Once the stain is completely dry and you’re done staining, measure and cut squares of felt so they’re slightly smaller than your coasters. Glue one pice of felt to each coaster, then press under books to make sure the felt lies flat. Make sure not to use too much glue or it will leak out and/or you’ll end up with funny lumps under the felt!

Enjoy your awesome new wood coasters! You can also decorate them with paint, wood burning, or vinyl if you want to add a little ‘something more’ to your project. And wouldn’t they make a cute homemade gift for the naturally-minded person on your gift list?

DIY Nontoxic Stained Wood Coasters Tutorial

My husband was very excited when I told him I was done photographing these wood coasters and that he could use them! He has a bit of a coaster obsession and I’m pretty sure the reason so many of our other coasters are missing is because he’s left them in various places around our apartment…

More non-toxic products to make at home

All-natural “Febreze”

non-toxic homemade Febreze and carpet powder

Essential oil mold killer

DIY Essential Oil Mold Spray (plus free printable)

DIY wood polish

Who is sick of unnecessary chemicals in products? We decided to design and build our own baby furniture and I was so frustrated trying to find something I didn't mind using while pregnant that I made my own! Today's tutorial shows how to make a super easy DIY furniture polish that's also perfect as a cutting board conditioner. It makes a wonderful addition to a gift set, too!

Have you ever made your own wood stain? What did you use? Vinegar, coffee, tea, something else?

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Homemade wood coasters with caption "Family-friendly nontoxic wood stain"
{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Linda November 7, 2017, 09:57

    Wonderful organic look (and actually organic) coasters! Simple look; I love it!

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