DIY How to make a wooden trivet from thin plywood wood and multiple diameters / angled cuts of hardwood dowel; a great wood-working gift idea.
Wood-working as a Fun and Creative Hobby
Wikipedia defines a "trivet" as "...an object placed between a serving dish or bowl and a dining table, usually to protect the table from heat damage."
Here is a another wood-working project for the home hobbyist, homemade trivets!
While these trivets would work adequately for the stated purpose of protecting the table from heat damage, what we are making are more suited for decorative wall-hanging display.
Backboard for Trivets
I use laminate wood; reclaimed bottom panels from discarded clothes dressers. Using an inverted serving bowl to trace the circumference onto the recycled wood stock, a 7 or 8-inch diameter trivet is adequate.
Rough cut using an electric jig saw. There is no need to sand the edges smooth at this point. This will be done in a later step. Set these aside until needed.
Different Diameter Wooden Dowel Rods
We need to create 'buttons' from cut wooden dowel rods which will be glued to the trivet backing board in an attractive pattern.
I find that three or four different diameter dowel rods is enough variety. My preferences for these diameters are usually 1/4-inch, 3/8th-inch and 3/4-inch hardwood dowel rods. These are commonly available in any home-hardware/woodworking materials, crafts and wood-working tools section.
Miter Box Required
We also require several different angles to be cut. I prefer 90-degrees, 45-degrees and 22.5 degrees for each of the chosen diameter dowels. Here we see a 45-degree trivet button being cut.
Using a miter box and a secure backstop ensures proper thickness of each cut.
I try to make all my 'trivet buttons' one-half inch (0.5-IN.) thick irregardless of the angle, which gives enough tolerance for sanding to ensure that all buttons are fairly level when glued to the backing board.
We will be sanding the trivet buttons flat and smooth later, so the actual finished thickness will be closer to 1/4 to 3/8th-inch thick. Sanding smooth later compensates for any height variations.
Trivet Buttons - Multiple Diameters and Multiple Angles
We have a bowl of half-inch thick trivet 'buttons' ready for use. Notice the different angles and diameters. They are all exactly (or very close) to one-half inch thick. A quick sanding or buffing of either cut end to remove any slivers or 'toothpick ends' may be required. We will be gluing these to the backboard so the cut ends need to be square and flat.
Apply a Layer of Wood Glue to Backing Board, Affix Trivet Buttons in Concentric or Other Pleasing Pattern
Thinking ahead about the intended trivet pattern you want to create, apply a thick layer of wood glue or other adhesive to the backing board and begin applying the trivet buttons.
Begin at the center of the circular backing board and expand outwards towards the edges as you affix the trivet buttons. You may occasionally 'squeeze together' or 'round up' the buttons closer together to fill-in any void spaces.
Periodically you should be pressing the glued buttons flat with your hand to ensure a good glue-backboard contact.
Allow the Glued Trivet to Fully Dry
Using a Dremel sander with the 'drum sander' attachment, shape the edges of the trivets close to the outer edge of the dowel buttons, as shown above.
This shaping highlights the irregular perimeters of the dowel rod buttons on the edges, giving each trivet more individuality and character.
Note that the trivet buttons in this example are not exactly the same height. This is where the electric sander will be required.
Sanding the Trivets Smooth and Flat
When the glued or epoxied dowel rod buttons are fully dry, use an electric sander and at least 60-grit sandpaper to sane the irregular heights smooth and level. Finer grit sandpaper can be used thereafter if you wish.
Any trivet buttons that are not fully glued and breaks free can be re-glued, and sanded level once dried. Typically, I have one or more buttons that come off during the sanding process.
Once all the buttons are sanded smooth and level, the product can be varnished. No stain is required but you can apply a light wash of stain on these if you so desire. Likely however, the stain would reveal the adhesive used and produce an undesirable lightening effect as the adhesive will not accept the stain and produce unsightly contrasts.
A small hole through the back can be drilled or bored for hanging the wall art. This hole should probably be aligned to pierce any one of the larger diameter trivet buttons nearer the outer edge.
Finished Trivets, Ready to Hang or Give as Gifts
All trivets shown in the image below are un-stained, just coated with clear spray urethane.
Spray-coated with clear urethane varnish, these are probably better suited for display than for actually holding a hot dish. But because they are coated in waterproof urethane, they can be damp-cleaned using a wet wash cloth or rag to remove dust, built-up soil or aerosolized grease from kitchen cooking.
Summation of How to Build a Wooden Trivet
There is much room for variations of this project. Imagine making a coffee table tabletop using this method as the countertop. A router-recessed 'pit' of perhaps a quarter inch in a tabletop could be made and the trivet buttons glued or epoxy-affixed into this recess and sanded smooth.
A clear epoxy leveling agent could lastly be poured over the entire tabletop to produce a completely flat and glass-smooth surface.