Saturday, August 2, 2014

Scrabble Coasters: Fail turned to Win

Today's Show and Tell Saturday is a well earned pin win from Rachel. She did her research before she jumped into her project, and then when it still gave her trouble, she found something that worked (from a tip from her husband, love it!). Here is her story:

Hi Emilee, Marquette, and Rachel!

I am working on a 101 in 1001 challenge (101 items to complete in 1001 days). One of the items on my list is to send a homemade craft to someone.

I saw these Scrabble coasters on Pinterest a looong time ago. Honestly, I wanted them for myself and I was just going to buy them online.

Last summer, I spent two weeks in PA visiting my and my husband's families. One of the weeks we were there, we stayed with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece. I saw my sister-in-law intently playing Scrabble at her swim club. I wished I could get in on the fun, but I had a high-energy three year old to chase after and make sure he didn't drown. :) We talked about our love of Scrabble. She plays all the time and I play Words With Friends like a fiend. So, I decided to make the coasters for Ang for her birthday.

I read a few tutorials and finally went out and bought the following items: a roll of cork, a full set of Scrabble letters (from ebay), Mod Podge (how did I not already have this at home?!), and Gorilla Glue (more on that choice later).

My first step was to look online for word inspiration. I wanted alcohol inspired terms. I finally settled on these:

Because I now have two little ones, my crafting time is limited to when the children are sleeping and occupied. So, I wrote the words in the order I wanted them on baggies so I could work on it later.

Ok, so back to the glue choice. I read about different glue options on several blogs and decided to go with Gorilla Glue because I've heard people time and again espouse its awesomeness. As I started gluing the individual tiles together, I quickly realized that it just wasn't going to work well. The glue not only didn't adhere well or quickly, but it started to stain the tiles. I tried some Super Glue that we had in the house, but that worked even WORSE (plus, I really hate the smell of Super Glue and always fear I'm going to bond my fingers together!). I just continued with the Gorilla Glue, including using it to adhere the tiles to the cork. I had to weigh the tiles and cork down since the piece of cork I cut off the roll was curved. It resulted in this:

I was very upset because it looked horrible. I hoped that maybe the Mod Podge on top might help. Nope.

While the Mod Podge makes the tiles look better, the staining from the glue looks so terrible. I was despondent and was ready to just by them online for her. I was talking to my husband Jason about it. He tends to try to make me feel good about the things I craft ("It's not perfect, honey, but it looks ok!"), but I asked him to be brutally honest since it was a gift. He suggested we keep it and that I try hot glue.

AHA! Hot glue! Why hadn't I, the Queen of Hotglueland, thought of that? I felt like a twit.

Not only did it work, it was SO MUCH FASTER than my previous method.

Instead of gluing the Scrabble pieces together and then gluing those to the cork, I just glued the pieces directly to the cork. Since the hot glue dried so quickly, I didn't have to worry about weighing it down. Here's a tip from experience: put glue on the back of the pieces and then on the sides of the pieces already glued down. Worked like a charm. I then used a box cutter to cut the coasters from the cork sheet. 

And though the blade on my box cutter was new and sharp, there was still "fray" on the edges that were driving me nuts. I used a plain old scissor to trim the edges, and it looked great! I tied the three coasters together with ribbon and Jason took them to the post office to send off for Ang's birthday. They are homemade, with love and about 99% professional looking.  :)

Pintrestedly yours :)
Rachel Maleski


  1. They came out great! While I like gorilla glue, the fact that it foams up so much as it dries has been a real downside. I've had some success with hot glue but it dries/cools so fast and those pesky spiderweb-like strands. I've been using E6000 almost exclusively. I tried using a variety of glues while making jar snowglobes and found that hot glue isn't waterproof at all. The items I hot glued to the lid bottom popped off after a short time in the water. Just a thought for the condensation factor of glasses on coasters.

  2. Those look fantastic!

    No matter how many "right glue for your project" blogs I read, I still find glue to be a crap shoot. Good for you in finding a solution!

  3. Gorilla Glue is awful. It expands into a foamy mess and doesn't even hold that well. I used it to glue rhinestones to my license plate frame, and lost all the rhinestones within a couple of days. I bought new rhinestones and this time glued them on with Beacon Fabri-Tac. That was over six years ago, and I still have 80% of the rhinestones left! Fabri-Tac is my go-to glue for just about everything; it dries quickly, holds well and it even glues paper without wrinkling!

  4. Gorilla Glue is amazing when it's used correctly on the things it's meant to be used on (porous surfaces). It isn't an all-purpose glue. It tells you how to use it properly on the label, including a step that almost always goes ignored and results in bad glue jobs: wet both surfaces before applying the glue and pressing together. Helps the glue soak into the pores of the surface and create a nearly unbreakable bond.

    Hot glue is problematic for this project because if the coasters have cold, damp glasses on them, the glue will get brittle and release. If they have hot, dry mugs, it will re-melt and release. Plus, mod-podge isn't waterproof. It will bubble and peel if left in contact with water for very long, but at the same time, it'll make sure that the scrabble tiles can't absorb the condensation of the glass, which is part of the point of using wood tiles. E6000 or another all-temp epoxy would have probably been a better choice, and losing the mod podge altogether would also have been wise. Soaking the cork in water for a minute or two and then letting it dry on a flat surface would have stopped the curling.

    Sorry for the wall of text, I just hate seeing people hate on anything for not working the way you want it to when it isn't being used for the things it's meant to be used for or the directions are being disregarded.


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