Introduction: Wooden Cup (Kuksa)

Picture of Wooden Cup (Kuksa)

I love kuksas and wooden cups so i was so excited when i saw the potential for one in a piece of elm i found after a trimming company trimmed a tree on main street.

What you need:



-Woodworking rotary files

-Chisels or just a pocket knife.


-Epoxy (the cheapest kind will do)

-Some type of oil to finish it

Step 1: Roughing the Shape

Picture of Roughing the Shape

I found an elm branch with a smaller branch coming off of it. The main branch will be the cup part, and the branch coming off will be the handle. The top side was already flat from the chain saw, so i roughed out the outside or bottom of the cup. I used a hatched for this part.

Step 2: Starting the Hole for the Cup

Picture of Starting the Hole for the Cup

I started the hole in the center of the kuksa with a spade bit, and then i used some chisels to hollow out the rest of the cup. I carved this wood while wet knowing that it would probably crack when it dried. I just thought i would take care of that when i came to it.

Just keep hollowing the hole out, don't go too deep or thin on the walls though. The smaller branch was still long, and i kept it long so i could have a handle to hold on to while i chiseled. The wet wood was great to carve and this was a fun step.

Step 3: Thin the Walls

Picture of Thin the Walls

I used a rotary file and a rotary rasp in a drill to hollow out the inside and smooth the outside. By the way, this does not work very well on wet woods. Actually it only works until the tool gets gummed up with wood, which happens almost immediately.

I waited until the cup mostly dried before i started this step. The bottom of the cup contained the center of the branch so it cracked when it dried.

Step 4: Fill Cracks With Epoxy

Picture of Fill Cracks With Epoxy

The bottom of the cup cracked, and some other cracks developed along the handle. I just used cheap five minute epoxy to fill in the cracks.

Step 5: Lots of Sanding

Picture of Lots of Sanding

If this step does not require large amounts of sanding then you obviously did a much better job on the other steps then i did. I just progressed from 60 grit to 1500 grit. You can sand however much you want, but i like the polished look.

Step 6: Oiling and Admiring

Picture of Oiling and Admiring

I used mineral oil, but if i were going to choose again i would use coconut oil. After three coats it kept its shine. Its finally done. whew what a trip

Make sure and enjoy what you made after your done with it. Go show it off to your family and friends.

Thanks for reading, and please leave a comment on your thoughts and or any input you may have.

I enjoyed making this wood cup and making this instructable, I hope you guys can enjoy it also.


Kyleluvspets (author)2015-04-07

I decided to make a kuksa, after lots of time reading about them. I am using a cypress log that was spilt in half, and I have already carved out the inside. I need advice. The piece is about 5 inches thick and sanding down to the shape is no option. How should I cut out the shape? Thanks.

Corinbw (author)Kyleluvspets2015-04-07

if you have a bandsaw, then I would carefully cut it with that, if you don't have that then I would use a hatchet and just hack away at the outside until you get closer to the right size. As you get closer to the size you want, then you start using smaller knives. You could also use a belt or disk sander to finishing thinning the walls.

A picture of where you are stuck at would help me give more ideas. And plus I just want to see it. Thanks for commenting

buck2217 (author)2015-06-30

Very attractive project

Shoops1111 (author)2015-04-30

Looks nice. If you had a thicker handle part you could have drilled finger holes.

Corinbw (author)Shoops11112015-05-03

thanks and yeah but I did not want the finger holes anyway so I am okay with the handle I have.

kylie.nay (author)2015-03-26

This is so awesome! I had never seen anything like this until Corin showed it to me. It is so beautiful!!

Dlhornscxm (author)2015-03-25

Very inspirational, I have some wood leftover from one our trees being cutdown. Thanks to you, I now know what I must do with it. It's been sitting for almost two years, I hope the cracking issues will be to a minimum.

Corinbw (author)Dlhornscxm2015-03-26

since it has been a while drying, then you should be fine. I hope you enjoy making them. There are some other instructables out there on kuksas if you need more ideas. Thanks for the kind comment, and pleaseost pictures when you're done.

Corinbw (author)2015-02-23

I was almost finished when I rememberded the boiling step, but I did keep it submerged for a while while carving and hollowing.

chesterdad (author)2015-02-23

I'm curious~ Wouldn't the coconut oil go rancid eventually? The basic use of walnut or mineral oil -- rather than say cooking oil or olive oil -- is that they won't go rancid later. Will coconut oil become rancid?

The bowl is a gorgeous piece of art!

Corinbw (author)chesterdad2015-02-23

That was part of the reason I used mineral oil instead. I dont know how long it would take to go rancid, or if it even would. I will do some research on that, but I have used coconut oil before and nothing had gone rancid yet. Thank you

Basement_Craftsman (author)2015-02-16

Any tips on stopping the cracking. It is a woodworking concept that has always baffled me?

All woodworkers know that "wood moves" - especially when the wood is wet (green) and drying out. So cracks will appear. Stopping cracking is between difficult and impossible. LOL! So, my suggestion is to start with wood that is fairly dry to begin with, and be prepared to use a lot of epoxy or superglue.

As I looked at this lovely shape, however, I stopped and thought how much easier and quicker it would be to use my lathe to accomplish the same thing.

tucker135 (author)Turtlemom32015-02-20

I live in the tropics and it is common for local craftsmen to carve pangas (dug-outs) with out-riggers from whole tree trunks. They keep the exterior of the trunk damp so the trunk will dry from the inside out. They also drill small holes through the exterior shell that relives the stresses encountered while drying. These holes are then filled with a hydraulic cement mixed with pulverized wood before launching.

Corinbw (author)tucker1352015-02-20

it's good to know someone has solved that problem. Thanks for the input. It makes sense that it would work.

Corinbw (author)2015-02-19

In reply to the last three comments, I would just like to say thank you for the advice and new information. I too thought epoxies were inert after curing, and this was also confirmed by a couple of my teachers and also many articles. I will take this new information into account when I make other items. Thank you. As for the drying process, I just let it slowly dry as I finished hollowing out the inside with a rotary rasp and rotary file. I didn't apply the epoxy until it was completely dry.

Switch and Lever (author)Corinbw2015-02-20

Some epoxies are safe, some are not. You basically have to look up the manufacturer and the MSDS to understand whether it's alright to use or not. Either way, it should not be used for food contact until it is completely cured and outgassed, which can for regular epoxy glues take a full month. Even if it feels fully cured after a few hours, or a day, does not mean that it is, there are still chemical processes going on.

Corinbw (author)Switch and Lever2015-02-20

thank you For the information. That is good to know

Pothuset (author)2015-02-20

What a beautyful piece of art.

namora (author)2015-02-19

Nice project for those awkward pieces of wood. A bit of advice about the cracks and how to fill them may be helpful. The cracks can be minimized by drying the piece slowly after the piece is thinned but before the sanding is done. I would recomend a silicon product to fill cracks as this will allow expansion and contraction as water is absorbed and lost in use. As far as I know it is the uncured resins that are extremely toxic and these should be handled with surgical type gloves. The thinners should not be breathed ever. Once the properly mixed product has set it is inert to my understanding although I would avoid the sanding dust. One thing epoxy is very good at is being mixed with the sawdust when it is used to fill cracks.

Blaise_Gauba (author)2015-02-19

Bee-YOU-tee-FULL! Nice job! As a side note, having worked with epoxies for decades...make sure that you do not ever use any epoxy in or on any part of an object that will be used to pass food or liquid consumables into the digestive tract. This is because epoxy resins are carcinogenic. I know, because I have worked with them for over thirty years. Manufacturers of epoxy products once touted that epoxies are not poisonous...but then they were eventually caught lying. There have been a few law suits to back that up that actually won in court against the manufacturers. I still use epoxies myself...I love the effects of epoxy resins. You just have to know how and where you can use them to be safe.

Your cup is amazingly beautiful...I said that already...didn't I? Nice, nice NICE! I love working with wood.

shawnlambert (author)2015-02-19

Looks fantastic.


1. Using epoxy and minerals oils are you afraid it may be toxic to eat/drink from?

2. Can you explain the drying process a little better?

Great instructable.

mothman92 (author)2015-02-17

I used to do a lot of wood turning in green wood. The main points for avoiding cracking are these:

-Thin walls, less bulk means it can dry more evenly with less chance of cracking

-slow the drying, usually what I would do is carve it to 80% completion and then cover it in melted parrafin wax, put it in a paper bag and leave it in a warm dry place for a couple of weeks. Once I started that I very rarely had any cracking.

-Avoid the pith, the pith is the center of the wood, in a perfect world you would carve only out of the wood from around the sides of the wood only as it is the most stable but it rarely goes that way.

-Time is key, slow down and wait between steps, a medium sized bowl(6-8") would take me, from cutting the tree to finishing the bowl, about 8 weeks with most of it being waiting for the wood to dry. If you rush it your wood will dry out too fast and crack.

I have heard of people using microwaves and ovens etc. to speed up the process but I personally would just move onto the next carving and if you keep at it you will almost always have a new piece ready for the next step when you want to work.

bulent123 (author)2015-02-17

Thanks for share

Mr.Sanchez (author)2015-02-17

Great job ! Thanks for share.

Corinbw (author)2015-02-16

Thanks, yeah it is better when you are actually holding it and looking at it. I tried to take good pictures though.

Marvellous me (author)2015-02-16

This is an amazing cup, and ible. I love the pictures of your cup in this ible, but having seen it and held it, they almost don,t do it justice.

Corinbw (author)2015-02-16

well the cracking is due to the difference in drying. The walls of the Kuksa dried faster then the handle did, and the bottom of the cup was very thin and weak being the center of branch, so it also cracked. A lot of wood turners will turn huge bowls with wet wood, and if the walls of their bowls are about the same thickness they will dry at the same rate and thus will rarely crack

I would suggest doing one of two things, either carve the whole thing wet and let it dry, if everything is the same thickness. Or you could wait till the whole log dried then you could carve on it. If you have a large log I would cut it in half and wax the end grain before you let it dry. This prevents a difference in drying.

I hope this helped, other then that I am not really sure.

CJStephens (author)2015-02-16

Awesome instructable. The gran pops out nicely in the finished cup. When I was carving my burl bowl I had major cracking along the sides from it being so dry. I never though of useing epoxy though I will have to try that.

Corinbw (author)CJStephens2015-02-16

i like your bowl a lot, and thinner epoxy works better then the thick stuff if you do try it.

CJStephens (author)Corinbw2015-02-16

I will remember that, thank you.

thetreehearts (author)2015-02-16

You work really well with wood! I'm tempted to try and make one myself now haha. :) Beautiful work and ible!

Corinbw (author)thetreehearts2015-02-16

Thank you. Thats great to hear coming from you. You should make one, its really fun

NathanSellers (author)2015-02-16

great project. looks like fun.

BeachsideHank (author)2015-02-16

A great find, even greater work, nicely done.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am currently on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in El Salvador. when i return i will continue ... More »
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