How to Make a Wooden Ashtray: A Step-by-Step Guide

Making a wooden ashtray is a fun and easy woodworking project that you can complete in just a few hours. Whether you’re a smoker yourself or you’re looking for a unique gift for a smoker in your life, a handmade wooden ashtray is a great choice. In this article, we’ll show you step-by-step how to make a wooden ashtray using simple tools and materials.

To get started, you’ll need some basic woodworking tools, including a saw, a drill, and sandpaper. You’ll also need a piece of wood that’s large enough to cut into the shape of an ashtray. You can use any type of wood you like, but hardwoods like oak, cherry, and walnut are good choices because they’re durable and look great when finished. If you’re new to woodworking, don’t worry – this project is suitable for beginners and doesn’t require any advanced skills or techniques.

Understanding Wood Types

When it comes to making a wooden ashtray, choosing the right type of wood is crucial. Not all woods are created equal, and each has its own unique characteristics that can affect the final product. Here are the two main types of wood to consider:


Hardwood comes from deciduous trees, which are trees that lose their leaves in the fall. They are generally denser and more durable than softwoods, making them a popular choice for furniture and other woodworking projects. Some common hardwoods used for ashtrays include:

  • Oak: A strong and durable wood with a prominent grain pattern.
  • Walnut: A rich, dark wood with a smooth finish.
  • Maple: A light-colored wood with a subtle grain pattern.

When choosing a hardwood for your ashtray, consider the color, grain pattern, and density of the wood. Hardwoods can be more expensive than softwoods, so keep that in mind when making your selection.


Softwood comes from evergreen trees, which are trees that keep their leaves year-round. They are generally lighter and less dense than hardwoods, making them easier to work with. Some common softwoods used for ashtrays include:

  • Pine: A light-colored wood with a straight grain pattern.
  • Cedar: A reddish-brown wood with a distinctive aroma.
  • Spruce: A light-colored wood with a fine grain pattern.

When choosing a softwood for your ashtray, consider the ease of working with the wood, as well as its color and grain pattern. Softwoods are generally less expensive than hardwoods, but may not be as durable.

In conclusion, choosing the right type of wood for your ashtray is an important decision that can affect the final product. Consider the characteristics of both hardwoods and softwoods before making your selection, and choose a wood that fits your needs and budget.

Gathering Materials

Before you start making a wooden ashtray, you need to gather all the materials required. In this section, we will discuss the two main sub-sections of gathering materials: Wood Selection and Tools Needed.

Wood Selection

Choosing the right type of wood is crucial for making a wooden ashtray. You want a wood that is dense and hard enough to withstand the heat of a cigarette or cigar. Here are some of the best wood types for making an ashtray:

Wood Type Description
Oak Durable and strong, with a beautiful grain pattern.
Maple Hard and dense, with a light color that looks great when finished.
Walnut A dark wood with a rich, warm color. Durable and resistant to scratches.
Cherry A beautiful wood with a reddish-brown color that darkens over time.

When selecting wood, make sure it is free of knots, cracks, or other defects that could weaken the structure of the ashtray. You can also choose to use reclaimed wood or scraps from previous projects, as long as they are in good condition.

Tools Needed

To make a wooden ashtray, you will need a few basic tools. Here is a list of the most essential tools you will need:

  • Saw: A saw is necessary for cutting the wood to the desired size and shape.
  • Drill: You will need a drill to make the holes for the cigarettes or cigars.
  • Sandpaper: Sandpaper is used to smooth out the rough edges and surfaces of the wood.
  • Clamps: Clamps are used to hold the pieces of wood together while the glue dries.
  • Wood Glue: You will need wood glue to attach the pieces of wood together.

Other tools that can be useful but are not necessary include a wood lathe, a chisel, and a router. These tools can help you create more intricate designs and shapes for your ashtray.

By selecting the right type of wood and having the necessary tools, you are now ready to start making your wooden ashtray.

Safety Precautions

When working with wood, it’s important to take the necessary safety precautions to avoid any accidents or injuries. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making a wooden ashtray:

Wear Protective Gear

Before you start working with wood, make sure to wear appropriate protective gear. This includes safety glasses, a dust mask, and gloves. Safety glasses will protect your eyes from flying wood chips, while a dust mask will prevent you from inhaling sawdust. Gloves will protect your hands from splinters and other injuries.

Use Proper Tools

Make sure to use the proper tools for the job. Using the wrong tool can be dangerous and can damage your workpiece. Always use sharp tools, as dull tools can slip and cause injuries. Keep your tools clean and well-maintained to ensure they work properly.

Keep Your Work Area Clean

A cluttered work area can be dangerous, as it increases the risk of accidents and injuries. Make sure to keep your work area clean and organized. Sweep up sawdust and wood chips regularly, and dispose of them properly. Keep your tools and materials organized and stored away when not in use.

Use Caution When Cutting

When cutting wood, always use caution. Make sure to keep your fingers and other body parts away from the blade. Use a push stick or push block to guide the wood through the saw, and never use your hands to push the wood. Always make sure the blade is properly aligned and tightened before making any cuts.

Avoid Distractions

Finally, it’s important to avoid distractions when working with wood. Focus on the task at hand and avoid using your phone or other electronic devices while working. Distractions can cause you to lose focus and make mistakes, which can be dangerous when working with power tools.

By following these safety precautions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable woodworking experience.

Designing Your Ashtray

When making a wooden ashtray, it’s important to consider the design carefully. You want to create a functional and visually appealing ashtray that you will enjoy using. Here are some tips to help you design your ashtray.


Before you start building your ashtray, it’s a good idea to sketch out some designs. This will help you visualize how your ashtray will look and make it easier to make any necessary adjustments before you start building.

Consider the size and shape of your ashtray, as well as any decorative elements you want to include. You can also experiment with different types of wood to see how they will look with your design.

Size and Shape

The size and shape of your ashtray will depend on your personal preference and how you plan to use it. If you plan to use it for cigarettes, you may want a smaller ashtray that can fit on a table or desk. If you plan to use it for cigars, you may want a larger ashtray that can accommodate the size of the cigar.

Consider the shape of your ashtray as well. A rectangular ashtray may be more practical, but a round ashtray may be more visually appealing. You can also experiment with different shapes, such as oval or triangular, to see what works best for your design.

Remember to keep the size and shape of your ashtray in proportion to the size of your smoking materials. You don’t want your ashtray to be too small or too large for your cigarettes or cigars.

In summary, sketching and carefully considering the size and shape of your ashtray are important steps in designing a functional and visually appealing ashtray. Experiment with different designs and materials to find the perfect ashtray for your needs.

Cutting the Wood

To start making your wooden ashtray, you will need to cut your wood into equal dimensions. This will ensure that your ashtray is symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing. Here are some steps to follow when cutting your wood:

  1. Choose the right type of wood: For your ashtray, it is best to use hardwood such as walnut, oak, or maple. These types of wood are durable and have a beautiful grain pattern that will enhance the look of your ashtray.

  2. Measure and mark your wood: Using a ruler and pencil, mark your wood at the desired length and width. Make sure to measure twice and cut once to avoid any mistakes.

  3. Cut your wood: Using a saw, cut your wood along the marked lines. It is important to use a saw that is appropriate for the thickness of your wood. A handsaw or circular saw is ideal for thinner pieces, while a jigsaw or band saw is better for thicker pieces.

  4. Sand your wood: After cutting, sand your wood to remove any rough edges or splinters. Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper and gradually move to a finer-grit sandpaper until the surface is smooth to the touch.

  5. Finish your wood: To protect your wood from moisture and give it a beautiful finish, you can apply a coat of wood stain or oil. This will also enhance the natural grain pattern of your wood.

By following these steps, you can easily cut your wood into equal dimensions and prepare it for the next step in making your wooden ashtray.

Carving the Ashtray

Carving the ashtray is the most important part of the process. It requires precision and patience to create the perfect shape and size for the bowl. In this section, we will cover two sub-sections: Creating the Bowl and Adding Grooves.

Creating the Bowl

To create the bowl of the ashtray, you will need to use a router or a chisel. If you are using a router, attach a bowl cutter bit to it. If you are using a chisel, choose a size that matches the desired size of your bowl.

  1. Clamp the wooden block onto your workbench to prevent it from moving while you work.
  2. Begin carving the bowl by making small cuts around the perimeter of the circle.
  3. Gradually increase the depth of your cuts until you reach the desired depth.
  4. Smooth out the bottom of the bowl with sandpaper or a chisel.

Adding Grooves

Adding grooves to your ashtray can help prevent ash and cigarette butts from falling out. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Mark the location of the grooves on the side of the ashtray.
  2. Use a router or a chisel to carve out the grooves.
  3. Sand the grooves to remove any rough edges.

Remember to take your time and be patient when carving the ashtray. It’s better to make small cuts and adjustments than to make a mistake that ruins the entire piece.

Sanding and Smoothing

Now that you have your wooden ashtray cut and shaped, it’s time to sand and smooth it to perfection. This step is crucial to ensure that the ashtray is not only functional but also visually appealing.

Start by using coarse sandpaper with a grit of around 80 to remove any rough spots or splinters on the surface of the wood. Be sure to sand in the direction of the grain to avoid damaging the wood fibers. You can use a sanding block or simply fold the sandpaper in half and grip it with your hand to make the process easier.

Once you have removed all the rough spots, switch to a finer grit sandpaper, around 120-150, to smooth out the surface further. Repeat this process with even finer grit sandpaper until you reach the desired level of smoothness.

After sanding, use a soft cloth to remove any dust or debris from the surface of the ashtray. You can also use compressed air to blow away any remaining dust from hard-to-reach areas.

If you want to take the smoothing process to the next level, you can use a wood file or a wood scraper to remove any remaining rough spots or edges. This will give your ashtray a polished and professional look.

Remember, the smoother the surface, the easier it will be to clean the ashtray and keep it looking new. So take your time and make sure to sand and smooth your wooden ashtray thoroughly.

Finishing Touches

Once your wooden ashtray has been sanded and shaped, it’s time to add the finishing touches to protect and enhance the natural beauty of the wood. Here are two sub-sections to guide you through the process of staining and sealing your ashtray.


Staining your wooden ashtray is an optional step, but it can add depth and color to the wood. Before starting, make sure the surface is clean and free from dust and debris. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Choose a wood stain that complements the color of your wood. Test it on a small, inconspicuous area to see how it looks before applying it to the entire surface.
  2. Apply the stain with a foam brush or a clean cloth, following the direction of the wood grain. Work in small sections to ensure an even coat.
  3. Let the stain sit for a few minutes, then wipe off any excess with a clean cloth.
  4. Allow the stain to dry completely before moving on to the next step.


Sealing your wooden ashtray will protect it from moisture, dirt, and other contaminants. It will also give it a smooth, glossy finish. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Choose a clear, protective finish that is appropriate for your wood type. Polyurethane and lacquer are popular choices.
  2. Apply the finish with a foam brush or a clean cloth, following the direction of the wood grain. Work in small sections to ensure an even coat.
  3. Let the finish dry for the recommended time, then sand lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper.
  4. Apply a second coat of finish, following the same process as before.
  5. Let the finish dry completely before using your ashtray.

Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the stain and finish you choose. With these simple steps, your wooden ashtray will be ready to use and will look beautiful for years to come.

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