Glue and Finish for a Wood Trivet

Thoughts on how a small item designed to protect tabletops from hot pots and pans can be detailed to withstand the heat itself. November 8, 2007

I am making trivets, nothing terribly complicated. I am taking a piece of 3/8" thick curly maple and gluing it to piece of 3/8" walnut, with the grain of each board opposing each other. The idea is to get a trivet with a different look on both sides that will match or contrast countertops and tabletops. I have two questions...

First, as the trivets will potentially be exposed to high heat coming from pots and such, does the glue type matter?

Second, I am concerned about the finish. I am pretty sure an oil finish is out of the question due to heat concerns, but would other finishes such as poly be damaged by the heat?

Forum Responses
(WOODnetWORK Forum)
From contributor K:
Before you worry about the glue failing, I think you are screwing up by turning the grain of the two woods on the outside 90 to each other. You should have them running the same way, otherwise they will self-destruct.

The best high temp glue is resorcinol. I don't know if there is a finish out there that will hold up to the kind of heat that you are likely to get from a hot pan right off of a burner.

From contributor M:
I agree with contributor K on the opposing grain issue. As for the heat, I have made a few trivets from scraps that I sell at crafts shows. My experience is that the pan has to be pretty darn hot to burn a trivet. Secondly, when people ask how well they will stand up, my reply is that the point of using them is that you ruin a $10 dollar trivet instead of your $2000 dining room table.

From contributor R:
I appreciate the input. I wouldn't normally oppose the grain in this manner, but I have been playing around with it for a couple of years and the worst problem I have had so far had been a little twisting. I haven't had any crack or blow apart yet. I find that if I make sure the moisture content is low when I finish them, there is little movement. These trivets are made by running dados 1/32" into the underlying piece of wood. At any rate, it's interesting.

From contributor O:
I made some curly maple trivets about 15 years ago, and just put a homemade oil and varnish finish on them and they still look great. They have never scorched because our pans have never been that hot, but they have protected our table which has Behlen's Rockhard Varnish on it.