Picture of How to carve a shrink cup
The principle of a shrink cup are, the cup are cut from a fresh log and you put in a bottom made from dry wood. When the cup drys it will shrink and make a tight fit around the bottom. If your skilled enough you can make a cup that are watertight.

This is a easy and quickly made project. I'm using simple tools that most of you already have. My cup is made from birch but you can make it from any wood. It just needs to be fresh cut.
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Step 1: Tools you need

Picture of Tools you need
Most will already have all the tools needed to make a cup. If you want to go very simple you can make it with only a saw, a knife and a hand drill.
But the marking gauge and the power drill makes it easier.
The ax, the froe and spookshave are used to make the bottom.

If you don't have a suitable knife look at my instructable showing how to make the perfect carving knife

Step 2: Getting the wood

Picture of Getting the wood
I went into the forest and found a place with a lot of small birch trees. I have asked the owner and have got a permission to cut a small tree. From one tree you will get enough wood to make a lot of cups.

Step 3: The carving

Picture of The carving
Drill the holes before you cut it. That way it is easier to hold the wood, and you don't need a holding device.

Step 4: Carving the bottom ledge

Picture of Carving the bottom ledge
The making of the bottom takes some patients and some skills. If you want to make a tight fit the ledge in the cup and the bottom needs to be very accurate. If you are skilled enough the cup will be watertight.

While you make the bottom store the cup in a plasticbag so it won't dry out while your working on the bottom. You can all so store it in a bucket of water. Just don't let it dry. If you want to wait to finish the cup you can store it in the freezer until you have the time to make the bottom.
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smarty19739 months ago

mate!!!! u have given me so many ideas!! hehe, those shrinking bracelets im thinking could be used as kinda banding on coopered drinkin cups, also i love the birch cups, gonna get my ass out this weekend and get myself some.. congrats on the brilliant instructable fella.. keep it up!!

Quick-tune2 years ago
"spookshave" ha, A ghostly thought!
Iceman942 years ago
Just out of curiosity, you said the viking axe was hand forged. Did you forge it yourself, or is there a a company that still hand forges those? Cool 'ible by the way.
morfmir (author)  Iceman942 years ago
Hi Iceman

I did not forge it. I don't have the skills to do a good ax. Many smiths still make handforged tools. The ax I use in this 'ible was made at Lejre center.

If you like a new handforged ax I can recommend
Or one from Svante Djerv or Grandfors

KittyF3 years ago
you leave the bark on. doesn't that peel away after it all is dry?
morfmir (author)  KittyF3 years ago
A little of the bark comes of if you wash it. But if your careful the bark stays intact for a long time.

flio1915 years ago
does this work with bamboo? or not really since it's a very different type of wood? great cups though, i live in the city an it's hard for me to acquire fresh wood, but next time I'm out in the country, I might just bring my tools with me! Thanks!
KittyF flio1913 years ago
Actually, if I remember right, you just cut a section of bamboo just below a joint, then just below the next joint. smooth the inside of the resulting cup and it already has a bottom, the joint.
srilyk flio1915 years ago
You wouldn't even have to "carve" one with bamboo, AFAIK. Bamboo is naturally watertight and the segmentation parts aren't as subject to cracking as wood is (different growth patterns). I'm not sure if bamboo shrinks when it dries, but if so it should work pretty similar to this technique. Now I wish we had some nice birch trees 'round these parts. Bamboo, too for that matter :P
For bamboo, cut right below one of the nodes. That will be your bottom.

The trick with bamboo is to cure it thoroughly.  If you let it air dry, it will crack apart.  To cure bamboo, start with a green piece.  Use a propane torch with a wide flat spreader end.  Slowly, work back and forth over the culm.  It will turn from green to golden brown and smell like popcorn.  Do not burn it. If it turns black, you are going too far.

BTW, do not try to fire cure bamboo while it is whole.  It might explode.  If you want to cure a long limb, or culm, you must first drill holes through the nodes down the center of the bamboo.  Or, it will go, BAMBOOM!  Please don't throw a piece of uncured bamboo into a fire to see what happens. Someone could get very hurt.
xD bamboom... thanks haha
 technically bamboo isn't wood, but grass... but it might work...
laci37 flio1915 years ago
Well I think at the segmentation parts it's not hollow so if you want a bamboo cup just cut it on the right places.
morfmir (author)  flio1915 years ago
Bamboo don't grow to that size here in Denmark :-) they become max 1 cm thick. /Thomas
tomman4 years ago
do you think it would work to use this ideal to make a ring
actually i have in the past made a wooden ring.. it is possible just make sure you watch the thickness of the ring and definately use a hard wood.. so it does not split on you
I made your lask i keep it in my survival kit
i cant find a berch tree were i live would you sell a cup and if you would how much????
for those of us without trees to cut, maybe contact a tree service or landscaping company to see if some fresh pieces could be attained.
You can also go around the neighborhood after a big storm. I've retrieved lots of nice wood that way. Magnolia, black cherry, maple, cedar, tulip poplar. (I make flutes)
You should make an Instructable on making flutes out of wood! the one I found was using PVC.....
Yes, I am actually in the process of doing just that.  I have several Instructables in the works for this.  One will show one of the traditional methods of making a Native American flute from a branch without power tools.  Another will show a more modern way of making them.  With this basic knowledge, I will expand to making a wooden side-blown flute, an end blown shakuhachi style flute, and a wooden saxophone.  PVC is a good starting point.  Whenever I make a new wind instrument, I experiment with PVC first so that I understand the dynamics without having to worry about the labor and skill involved with working wood.
 That sounds awesome! Cannot wait to see   :D
ChaseReno5 years ago
O.K., sophomoric question here. Why don't you just not carve all the way through the body of the cup? I'm sure there's a reason. By the way, this is one of the better Instructables I've seen. Great pictures and great explanations.
morfmir (author)  ChaseReno5 years ago
If you just carve out the cup and leave the bottom intact the bottom will crack. If you cant to make a cup from one piece of wood you have to carve it a different way. Maybe I will make an instructable about how to make that. /Thomas
please do?
See? I knew there was a reason. Would love to see an Instructable on how to carve a one piece cup. Cheers!
Elycian5 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
You need to cut one down so it can shrink around the bottom.
morfmir (author)  Don,t try this at home5 years ago
That's correct. It needs to be as green as possible. You will get the best shrink from a newly cut log. /Thomas
Elycian morfmir5 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
I got the same problem but it is termites there in every tree around so I cant make anaything.
tomman5 years ago
could you make a ible for the keg
red-king tomman5 years ago
 yeah. it would be like "here's a link to this instructable" and then: "use a bigger piece of wood."
Ron-Ray5 years ago
I would give anything to be younger and be able to spend about a year near you and your family. You know so much about wood, knives and living off the land (so to speak). I can only imagine how much more you know! Only in the past few years have I realized how wonderful and fulfilling crafting things from wood and steel are to the soul and body. But alas... we get older and begin to see the things that are REALLY important in life, just to realize that we are now too old to accomplish them! ... How unfair knowledge and life can be....... (Maybe next time? ;-) Thank you Thomas, for these wonderful insights to life's intriguing basic joys.
tomman5 years ago
could you use sandpaper for shapeing
morfmir (author)  tomman5 years ago
No, you can't use sandpaper on greenwood. /Thomas
tomman morfmir5 years ago
thanks any way
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