Picture of Easy Homemade Wooden Tea Cup Without A Lath
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Hey everyone so here's just a quick instructable about how I made this teacup without using a lathe. All I used was a drill a sand belt and sand paper. Enjoy!
Thanks so much for the feature on my first instructable! Have fun trying it out! :)
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Step 1: Getting Your Wood

Picture of Getting Your Wood
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If you look at my finished product you will see that it's got a funky grain to it. This is because it's what's called a burl. I'll let you look it up if you want to know more but they have the cool wood grain patterns. For my cup I cut off a chunk of this recently dead cedar tree in my back yard.

Step 2: Rough Shaping

Picture of Rough Shaping
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The next step is to saw off any protrusions and make it as semi circular as possible. I just used a regular saw and a clamp for this step but you can do it how you see fit.

Step 3: Belt Sanding

Picture of Belt Sanding
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This next step could probably be skipped depending on how symmetrical you cut your burl, but this definitely makes things easier. All I did was run it against the belt sander to fine tune the shape a bit more.
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ewalk11 months ago
Is there an alternative to walnut oil? Not allergic to all nuts but I am allergic to walnuts
nancyjohns ewalk11 months ago
You can use this stuff called butcher block oil or mineral oil.
Spokehedz ewalk11 months ago
Any oil will do, you are creating a waterproof coating that gets absorbed into the wood grain/fibers. Just use a TINY bit, and rub it in like mad.
rgerber1 ewalk11 months ago
When I was in HS many moons ago I made a large salad bowl out of maghogany, my shop teacher told me to use vegetable oil on it,, and that is all I use,, I wash it once in awhile in soapy water and rinse clean, I let dry then re-apply the oil, have not died yet... hope that helps,, I would think any edible oil would work just rub it in well..
mulrich125 (author)  rgerber111 months ago
Yup one reason I chose walnut oil over vegetable oil though is that it goes bad much slower so less reapplying, although its more expensive. Happy woodworking, Matt
BigAndRed ewalk11 months ago
grape seed oil will be very good, haven't heard of there ever being an allergic reaction to it.
mulrich125 (author)  ewalk11 months ago
There are many actually! I chose walnut for its properties but there are many similar food safe finishes you can use. I suggest going looking at finewoodworking's article on food-safe wood finishes, That will have all the info you need and more, Happy woodworking! Matt
ctuck11 months ago
Could you expand on your method of applying the beeswax? I have a wooden cup that I made that I want to seal. Just been unsure how.
mulrich125 (author)  ctuck11 months ago
Sure I can! I simply warmed up the beeswax a bit in my hand and then pushed in onto the surface a little bit like coloring with a crayon. Then lastly I just went over the cup with a paper towel and a little bit of pressure to get the coat even. Thats it! :) Happy woodworking, Matt
bpark100011 months ago
Your cup will crack and split as it dries in the house unless you treat it with polyethylene glycol solution (sold by wood suppliers to "freeze" wood into the green state).

When you "turn" the outside, you can hold the work on the drill as you explained, but let the belt sander do the wood removal. This way, the cutting forces are low and the risk of the work flying off are also low.
mulrich125 (author)  bpark100011 months ago
Actually the tree was dead and not in the green state, its been months with no signs of cracks or splits thankfully. Thanks for the information though! Happy woodworking, Matt
aebe mulrich12510 months ago
Polyethylene Glycol is poisonous , and an ingredient of anti freeze . One of the reasons you do not leave old antifreeze out where critters or kids can get to it , the stuff is actually sweet tasting . And it will kill them .
Great cup !
bpark1000 aebe10 months ago
It is NOT poisonous. Do not confuse POLY ethylene glycol with ethylene glycol (which is in antifreeze and poisonous). Polyethylene glycol is even added to common foods such as cereal. You can buy it for treating wood.

When wood is cut "in the round" such as in this Instructable, it is prone to crack because if the different rates of shrinkage of the wood in different directions. When this wood is stored in the house in winter, it will dry further, shrink, and crack due to the low humidity. A small piece such as this will be easy to treat.
mulrich125 (author)  bpark10003 months ago

Been over a year no cracking! :)

aebe bpark100010 months ago
Low toxicity . Not what I was told when I was introduced to the stuff back in the '70's . I do understand about shrinkage , I work with green wood when I can , making walking sticks , and rarely now , treen such as the cup . Damp shavings or sawdust , packed with the piece into a plastic bag and kept in the 'fridge has worked . Anyway , thank you .
jango_fx8 months ago

i wonder if the oil and wax won't melt/dissolve when in contact with hot tea? i'd imagine drops of grease in my freshly brewed earl gray?

la2ur2en8 months ago

Absolutely love this! I wanted to make my boyfriend a cup for valentines day as he loves having his cookies and milk every night, and this is brilliant!

Seems simple enough, and much easier than I thought it would be without the lathe. :)

marcel.reuter10 months ago
Hi mulrich125! That was a great project, wondering to do one too! Did you put coffee or hot beverage on this cup? Did you have any problems with wood taste or others in the drink? Thanks!!
Aspenflyer10 months ago
Excellent job. I think I'm going to try this after New Year.

Sam DeRose10 months ago
WOW! Beautiful! You've definitely got some patience that I dont have though, haha. How long did it take you to sand out the inside??
mcsk8rg10 months ago
first I thought u used a lathe

then was surprised !
even I use my rotary tool as lathe but never thought of doing something this big of siZe
I got inspired by ur idea if cutting ur screw head off n using drill

nice :)
alyons510 months ago
How did you apply the beeswax exactly?
bruce500010 months ago
to, things one( knut says) any instrutables comeing with hes way of doing it & to id like to make a shallow cuting bowl to use with a ulu knife can you help me out with how to ?
knut11 months ago
Regarding the bottom fixture: I once learned about gluing an extra piece of wood to the base having newspaper paper between. In this way we could finish the work outside and inside using the dril as a lathe. The extra wood could even have a bolt securely fastened as an axis. When the work is finished just put a knife at the paper and give it a wack and it splits in the paper. Sand away the paper and glue from the base and everything should be fine.

But your cup is very nice!
bruce5000 knut10 months ago
id like a instructable showing these way??
mulrich125 (author)  knut11 months ago
Since I made this piece I also learned of this method and I think its brilliant! Will definitely use it in the future thanks :) Happy woodworking, Matt
knut mulrich12511 months ago
I learned it in primary school around 1960 and had almost forgot it, today most woodturners uses advanced jaws on the lathe instead of this old technology. We had a few hours of woodworking a few times every term in Norway in the 1950 and 60's. It is fun today knowing the old technology. The lathe we had was hardly more advanced than a dril in a fixture.
hometownbetty11 months ago
Wow, that is beautiful!
Love this. Really nice job!
PhantomOfHeat11 months ago
A wood chisel would help get the general shape then you could sand it down as needed.
Absolutely beautiful! My best buddy showed me some wood bowls she had made a couple of years ago, and promised me one, too - someday... I think I may need to make my own. If one is using a wood with potentially toxic qualities, I wonder if the wood is sealed as you describe, if it would be OK to use for non-ingestion purposes, storing/showcasing small collectables, pretty rocks (my passion), fishing lures, and other small items. I love your work - thanks for sharing it with us!
mking3711 months ago
Also, what kind of wood would you suggest if I was starting with a 4 x 4 x 4 block? Love the project, thanks
mking3711 months ago
What Dremel attachment did you use?
jimmysymo11 months ago
I turn on a lathe ,but yours is really nice and looks smooth A good job done well.jimmy.
Vikingtrader11 months ago
That's beautiful. I think I will try a Viking drinking vessel using this method. Many thanks for the Instructable.
Speedster4411 months ago
That's really cool, but power tools aren't my cup of tea...
Paul711 months ago
I wondered about Boiled linseed oil it is used on rifle stocks and violins. With a wood like
Tamboti no oil would be needed but it can not be used for food or drink Member of the Euphorbia family
bobjacksonjr11 months ago
Great Job! I do realize that most people don't have a lathe, but I think most people would have a drill press and that would make step 5 (hollowing out the cup) much quicker by using a rasping drill bit. Thanks for your ideas, Bob.
Grandstaff11 months ago
This sparked a few great ideas. I don't have a lathe but would like to try something of this sorts. Thanks for the instructable; I will have to try this sometime.
modern man11 months ago
Beautiful, and nicely done. Although you did say the tree was recently dead, I wonder if the wood was dry enough?
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