Easy Homemade Wooden Tea Cup Without a Lath

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Introduction: Easy Homemade Wooden Tea Cup Without a Lath

About: Currently in college pursuing a degree in music therapy but love working with my hands!

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!
Edit:
Thanks so much for the feature on my first instructable! Have fun trying it out! :)

Step 1: Getting Your Wood

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

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

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.

Step 4: Starting to Look Like a Cup!

Here's where things get makeshift. I don't have a lathe to get the cup shaped perfectly so instead I used a drill. So first I got a screw and cut off the head with a metal saw. Then I clamped down on this screw with my drill as if it were a drill bit. Then I drove the screw into the middle of the cup. From there with a piece of string I drew a perfect circle the size I wanted the cup to be. Then comes the fun part! You then turn the drill on slowly while holding it in one hand to control speed and in the other hand you hold sandpaper up to your cup. Always remember to wear safety glasses and make sure your wood is extremely extremely secure. If you don't, technically the wood could fly off and hurt someone or something! Another good idea would be to use thick sanding belt sand paper so it doesn't burn through and also a must would be to use gloves. Other than that just shape it however you think looks best.

Step 5: Cutting Out the Middle

Ok I'm not gunna lie this is the most time consuming part, but this is the only way I could think of with the tools I had available. First I drilled a bunch of holes into the cup to make cutting out the middle easier. Make sure you don't drill too deeply by taping off the drill bit to the length you want to drill. Then to take out more of the wood I started using a pocket knife and that worked alright, but I ended up borrowing a friends dremel. If you don't have a dremel it's going to take a while and even if you do I would suggest doing a lot of the end work by hand because it's very easy to take too much off with a dremel. But next just use course to fine grit sand paper to get the walls as thin as possible.

Step 6: Fine Grit Sanding

Your almost there all the hard work is done! Next just go over everything with a fine grit sandpaper and get it as smooth as you possibly can with the highest grit paper you have. The pictures I have of this step are of the cup dipped in water so I could see how it might look when finished.

Step 7: Finishing the Cup

There are many finishes that can be used but I chose walnut oil and bees wax for a couple if reasons. Number one being that it creates a waterproof and food safe seal for the wood. I bought them both on eBay for a couple bucks and I use them for all my food safe items. Basically I just use a paper towel to put a layer of walnut oil on the wood and then let it dry overnight. For this cup I put three layers then I smooshed on a layer of beeswax.

Step 8: Done!

Then all that's left to do is put your initials on it and have a cup of tea! Please leave a comment if you enjoyed this instructable or if you have any questions suggestions or just wanna say hey! :) Thanks for looking!

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    Questions

    Hi! I realise this was posted 4 years ago so you might not see this, but on the off chance that you do I was wondering how your cup has stood the test of time? I'd like to make some wooden espresso cups as a gift but am unsure whether: 1. They would react badly to the coffee and 2. Whether whatever I treat the wood with would affect the taste of the coffee?

    Many thanks for any help from the author or anyone else!

    166 Comments

    Is there an alternative to walnut oil? Not allergic to all nuts but I am allergic to walnuts

    9 replies

    The process for making walnut all removes the common allergen, altough I full understand you may not want to take the risk. Any food oil except olive oil would work. Olive oil has a tendency to go rancid. I tend to use sunflower oil.

    As a matter of fact only oil that does not go rancid is Cotton Seed oil. Believe me from 50 years of cooking experience.

    Even though it's not an oil, the best I've found was propolis. No need for anything else. Just melt raw propolis in a pot (do this outside maybe; it WILL smell. Personally I like it, but my wife doesn't) and apply. It's the best sealant, (like natural epoxy) it's not just food safe, but extremely beneficial (antimicrobial, antibacterial, boosts immune system and many more) and it will stay applied for a long time, just like synthetic lacquer or varnish.

    You can use this stuff called butcher block oil or mineral oil.

    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.

    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..

    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

    grape seed oil will be very good, haven't heard of there ever being an allergic reaction to it.

    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

    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.

    7 replies

    best wood finish i've found is boiled linseed oil and beeswax. melt the wax and add the same amount of oil, then stir until it's well mixed. just be sure to let it sit for a few days until the linseed oil hardens before you actually drink from it.

    Actually, the best I've found was propolis. No need for anything else. Just melt raw propolis in a pot (do this outside maybe; it WILL smell. Personally I like it, but my wife doesn't) and apply. It's the best sealant, (like natural epoxy) it's not just food safe, but extremely beneficial (antimicrobial, antibacterial, boosts immune system and many more) and it will stay applied for a long time, just like synthetic lacquer or varnish.

    I'm sure that's a fine finish for anything that's not near food. However, these days, instead of boiling, metallic catalysts are added to the oil. I suspect they're toxic. Unboiled linseed oil shouldn't be as toxic, maybe not toxic at all. Or you can use flax seed oil, generally meant as a dietary supplement. The latter two apparently take much longer to dry. I cut open flax seed oil capsules to seal our cutting board. Seems to work fine.

    I have used walnut oil as a finish on some picture frames. Goes on easy, dries relatively quickly, at least compared to some other oils, and has a pleasant color which ages into another pleasant color after a few years. I THINK it's darker and maybe a bit yellower, but I don't have a sample to look at.

    as i said.....it's not food safe until it's dry. once the waxes harden, it locks everything in. besides, i've read the msds and from what i know from researching water additives, drinking municipal tap water is just as dangerous as drinking from a cup treated with boiled linseed oil.

    now, i will not discuss this any further and get involved in a mindless debate. you don't want to use it? fine, don't use it. but don't try arguing with me about it and try proving me wrong. i won't have any of it.

    From my experience linseed oil never completely dries. It appears dry but ...

    From my experience boiled linseed oil is fantastic for tables, chairs- pretty much anything humans contact. However, it does contain Cobalt driers, which may be carcinogenic (it's not well researched, but cobalt compounds have been carcinogenic to animals in toxicity tests). Either way, I would go for the stuff labeled "Raw linseed oil" which doesn't contain the driers and not have any worries.

    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

    Size?

    I'm also "tool deprived", though I'm working on that. I think you did an amazing job, especially with no lathe etc - but even if you set that fact aside. Beautiful grain pattern, beautiful shape, very nice finish. !!