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As we were planning out our simple Christmas tablescape, I wanted something to add a little more warmth and coziness to the table decor. Rather than buying wood charger plates, I decided to make a dent in our scrap wood pile and make our own.
Using some leftover 1/4″ maple plywood and a little bit of stain, I make six reversible DIY charge plates for free! Gotta love when your scrap pieces turn into something fun!
The ONLY tools you need to DIY
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But before we dive into how to make these chargers…what even is a charger plate?
The purpose of a charger plate is to protect the table and tablecloth from getting stained during meals. Sure, they are pretty to look at, but they can also catch some of your crumbs and spills during meals.
That being said, charger plates are definitely not necessary. You can always clean a tablecloth or table, so they aren’t out here saving the world or anything.
If you like the look of them, add them to your table decor. But if you don’t? Skip them.
Now for the final question before we dive into this DIY. Does the charger plate stay on the table?
Technically there is etiquette on when the charger plate is on the table and when it’s removed, but my personal philosophy is that charger plates can always stay on the table.
Let them stay as permanent decor on your table. Wipe them off after meals and then set them back down. That way, your table always looks like it’s just about ready for guests.
Alright, let’s start DIYing!
What You’ll Need
How to make DIY wooden placemats
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STEP 1: DRAW YOUR CIRCLE
First, we need to sketch out a template to follow. Since I’m not concerned about my chargers being perfectly round, I simply traced some chargers I already had. The diameter of the chargers is approximately 14″, which is a standard size for a typical charger or round placemat.
STEP 2: CUT WOOD WITH JIGSAW
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not terribly concerned about these being perfectly round. In fact, I think not having them perfectly circular adds a little more interest.
Since I want them to be organic, I used my fast and clean jigsaw blade and quickly cut through the plywood. I went as fast as the blade would allow, trying my best to follow my line at the fast speed.
If you want your placemats to be more uniform, cut slower to give yourself more control to fully stay on track with the line.
If you are cutting your chargers from a large piece of plywood, roughly cut out each charger and then go back and touch-up each individual charger. It’s easier to control a smaller piece of plywood than a giant sheet.
STEP 3: SAND
Now that everything is cut, let’s smooth out the edges and prepare our wood to be stained.
First, run your sanded along the edge of your plywood to make sure it’s nice and smooth.
Then, round off the edges of your plywood using the same technique we used here.
Finally, side the faces of your plywood to get them nice and smooth. If your wood splintered while cutting, make sure to sand off any remaining splinters.
STEP 4: STAIN
Before adding your stain color, grab a few pieces of scraps that you cut off earlier. Test a few stain colors on your scrap pieces of wood before making your final decision.
I decided to stain mine with Minwax Early American stain.
P.S. Want a detailed tutorial on how to stain? Check out our Ultimate Guide to staining wood!
OPTIONAL STEP 5: PAINT
If you want to add a metallic or painted detail to your wood chargers, grab some tape and some spray paint to get started. I decided to add a simple red stripe to each of my charger plate to add a little bit more color to my Christmas tablescape.
I didn’t have an exact science for this. I lined my first piece of tape up with the bottom of my charger, placed a pencil on top of the tape as a spacer, and then added a second piece of tape to create a line.
Make sure the rest of the charger is covered up to protect it from overspray, then grab your spray paint and add a few light coats.
On this step, it’s super important to press your tape all the way down before adding paint to avoid bleeding.
STEP 6: SEAL
Even though charger plates aren’t meant to be eaten off of, I decided to seal them with a food-safe finish just in case. Follow the instructions on your sealer for the best results.
There you have it! Now you know how to make your very own DIY wood charger plate. I love that they add some warmth and are versatile to go with pretty much any table decor.
Pro tip before you go: if you finish both sides of your wood charger, you can have two different styles or colors. For me, I have my Christmas version with the red stripe and a plain side for any other time of year.