Introduction: Wooden Mason Jar (carved From a Cherry Log)

Picture of Wooden Mason Jar (carved From a Cherry Log)

This is a 12-inch-tall wooden mason jar carved from a cherry log.

This was made as a gift for my wife. She hates mass-produced, made-overseas home decor stuff, so our house is decorated with all sorts of homemade items like this.

It could be used as a vase, but it will very likely end up on display in a corner somewhere filled with wheat stalks, reeds, knobbly sticks, or some other earthy things she finds out on a trail somewhere.

It took about 10 hours to complete, but was worked on over the course of a few months.

This project requires access to a decent sized band saw, some clamps, and some power carving tools.

I hope you enjoy this, and are inspired to go make something!

Step 1: 360 Degree View

Picture of 360 Degree View

Here's a look all around the finished jar.

I especially like the unique characteristics of the wood on display, such as the multi-toned grain, the angled checks, and that dark swath of bark. Those are the actual highlights of the piece to me.

One perceptive member of our community spotted an owl peaking back through the wood grain in one of these photos. Can you see it?

Step 2: Start With a Decent Log

Picture of Start With a Decent Log

The log I used for this project was from a 25-year-old cherry tree. When the log was cut several years ago, the ends were properly sealed so it dried without any severe checking.

Using an old mason jar I eyeballed some proportions, and cut a 12 inch section of the log on my band saw. The log was 7 inches in diameter.

Step 3: Break Down Log

Picture of Break Down Log

The log was broken down on the band saw as shown in the photos. See photo notes for details and dimensions.

I'm using blades made for use on green logs, so they are slightly thicker and fairly aggressive.

Step 4: Glue Up the Pieces

Picture of Glue Up the Pieces

With these pieces cut, I glued them all back together matching up the grain and checks.

Duct tape was wrapped tightly to clamp the two side pieces together, and then clamps were used to glue the top and bottom discs in place.

Step 5: Powever Carving Tools

Picture of Powever Carving Tools

I bought this Foredom woodcarving kit a couple years ago, and absolutely love it. I also use my small Black & Decker rotary tool finer details. As far as rotary tools go, this pair has been great.

See photo notes for info on the bits I used for the is project. The red and blue ones are Typhoon brand burrs.

Step 6: Rough Out Basic Shape

Picture of Rough Out Basic Shape

I began by removing larger amounts of material with a combination of the band saw and a small pull saw (photos of this approach are shared in the next step, as the same process was done two different times.)

Additional material was removed with the large red burr shown in the last step to create the round bottom of the jar, and to begin the taper at the top.

The bottom of a lip was formed using the flat, disc-like rasps shown in the last step.

Step 7: Carve Threads and Finish Lip

Picture of Carve Threads and Finish Lip

The top of the jar was cut down further using the band saw and a small pull saw, and then the threads and lip were carved. See photo notes for details.

Note the neat dimpled texture on the sides of the jar. This was done by quickly running the large flame-shaped burr over the entire jar.

Step 8: Carve Lettering

Picture of Carve Lettering

The design for the lettering was sketched onto the jar, and then the surrounding material was carefully removed with a small carving bit.

The raised areas around the lettering were then carved down to make a smoother transition.

Step 9: Cut Opening in Top

Picture of Cut Opening in Top

The opening in the top was removed by drilling a tight circle all the way around with a drill (the thickness of the top ring was just a bit too much to be able to do this with a jig saw.)

The rough inside edges were then carved down and smoothed out.

Step 10: Carving Completed

Picture of Carving Completed

The completed jar got a very gentle sanding with 220 grit sandpaper, just to remove a few sharp edges.

Care was taken to not remove any of the dimpled texture created with the flame-shaped bit earlier on.

Step 11: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

The jar was stained with golden oak colored oil-based stain. I somewhat regretted this decision, as I think leaving it unstained and just giving it a clear coat would have looked better. Oh well, that's what I get for not pretesting on some scrap!

The jar was then coated with about a dozen coats of semi gloss spray lacquer, both inside and out.

To lighten up the letters ever-so-slightly color-wise, I sanded them gently with 220 grit sandpaper. I then rubbed them with my hands until they absorbed a bit of my natural oil, and I called it good.

That's it. All done!

Step 12: Details

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Here are a few close up shots of the details. Not perfect by any stretch, but my wife likes it!

Step 13: Parting Thoughts

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Thanks for taking a look at my wooden mason jar.

I'd love hear any feedback in the comments below!

Hey, what should I make out of the other half of the log? I'm looking for a completely original, one-of-a-kind idea . . . but inspiration hasn't struck yet. Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome!


Lady_Eglantine (author)2017-04-26

This is so beautiful! You are so talented. It looks wonderful!

seamster (author)Lady_Eglantine2017-04-26

Ah, thank you!

Lyngstad (author)2016-06-08

What a great amazing work of art!!! I really love it because

I like the jars as well. Thanks for sharing!!!!

Nate5b (author)2016-05-06

Wow, that looks amazing. Thanks for sharing

pkr316 (author)2016-02-24

OK 4th ible I am in love with. If your marital status changes, I'm just saying. J/K. Love my best half too much but really enjoying your ideas!!

punkypunk (author)2015-06-05

this is brilliant, I wish I could work with wood like that!

christine828 (author)2015-03-31

Beautiful job! I had expected to see most of the shaping and hollowing done on a lathe. The fact that you did this with hand tools and other carving tools is amazing to me!

seamster (author)christine8282015-03-31

Thank you! I think that's a common expectation with this . . but since I've got no lathe, I had to figure out a different way :)

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, I appreciate it!

cdays_01 (author)2015-03-02

I don't know why I love this project so much but I'm thinking of my mom and two sister in laws that love canning. It's such a simple object but you can tell how much effort it takes. I don't have access to a bigger bandsaw. I'm thinking I can get away with a hole saw and chisel to the bottom. The plus is it'll be seem less. Thank you for the idea. If mine turns out half as good, I'll be thrilled.

seamster (author)cdays_012015-03-02

Hey, glad you liked this!

Best of luck with yours, I'd love to see how it turns out! (Good or bad, it'll be a great experience I hope!)

bettina-sisr (author)2015-01-24

Beautiful! About 20 years ago when I was in Orange Co CA there was an artist that carved menswear from wood, so a pair of dress pants hanging on a hanger, or a tie, or suit jacket, just normal stuff, but carved out of wood. He was a pro artist and your Mason (Wood) jar is just as gorgeous!

seamster (author)bettina-sisr2015-01-24

Wow, that's a huge compliment! Thank you very much!

WUVIE (author)2015-01-12

WOW. Absolutely wow! You've got my vote!

seamster (author)WUVIE2015-01-12

Thank you very much!

I love all of YOUR projects . . . so much awesomeness!

WUVIE (author)seamster2015-01-22

Holy cow! I just looked at all of your Instructables, and my mouth is stuck hanging open. You're just like, uber cool! Definitely following you!

seamster (author)WUVIE2015-01-22

You are very kind, thank you for the wonderful compliment!

macgyver71 (author)2015-01-17

As someone who uses the mason jars for "various liquids", this is DEFINITELY something I'm going to try. I don't have anywhere near the talent you showed on here, but it's worth trying to make one!

seamster (author)macgyver712015-01-18

Hey, thank you!

Let me know how it goes if/when you make one; I'd love to see how it turns out!

macgyver71 (author)seamster2015-01-19

Most definitely! Dont think it will look as good as yours, but hopefully it's a reasonable facsimile

741741452 (author)2015-01-14

hey man your work is very very beautiful

very beautiful

blacksheepwoodcraft (author)2015-01-14

Kudos good sir. My favorite instructable to date. Your passion shows in your handcraft.

pattymadeit (author)2015-01-11


JasonE (author)2015-01-10

Amazing and impressive! I've had a hankering for quite some time to learn how to work wood. This project is inspiring. Thank you for posting! Several commenters have mentioned your other work so I am heading there to check it out now.

clazman (author)2015-01-09

Man that is unique!

I agree with the natural wood grain, checks, splits, maybe even the evidence of branches!!

Oh, I also see a cat stalking the viewer of your creation. Thank goodness, the cat isn't stalking the owl!

BMXsquad88 (author)2015-01-08

Dude I love your account so much!! your creations are amazing, this summer is gonna be full of awesome projects!!! thanks a ton man!

natis413 (author)2015-01-08

I'm actually going to try and make an old Coca-Cola bottle out of wood thank you for posting this I will try and put pics up of my bottle when I complete it

seamster (author)natis4132015-01-08

Oh my, that's an excellent idea! I can't wait to see how that turns out.

Seriously, I love that idea. If I was a Coke man, I'd be tempted to steal that idea and do it myself... Definitely snap some photos throughout the making process, and do up a proper instructable on it. That would really be cool to see!

aflores42 (author)2015-01-08

I love it. But I think like you wrote the natrual color may have been nicer, but this looks pretty awesome dark too. Sooooo for the other piece continue with the jar theme of sorts and make one of those old fashioned soda/beer bottles that have those ceramic flip off with metal hinge tops.

seamster (author)aflores422015-01-08

Ooh, that could be cool, great idea! Thank you!

ktshoema (author)2015-01-08

Amazing Job.. Estimated time to complete?

seamster (author)ktshoema2015-01-08

This took about 10 hours total.

rjtumble (author)2015-01-08

great project and I love how it worked out (I like the dark color you ended up with).

When you cut out the wood from the top, did you consider using a hole saw rather than a lot of small drill holes? Just curious if you did, and decided it was the wrong way to go. I would think using a drill press for that would work well since you can so easily control the speed and pressure.

I imagine doing it with a lathe, you'd have to mark out the band on the piece where the lettering would go, so you are left with a raised area to carve away? Probably also have to do the screw on the top by hand as well.

seamster (author)rjtumble2015-01-08

Great thoughts. I don't currently have a lathe (it's on my wish list, pending approval from my accountant/wife...) But this project could certainly be done with a lathe, except for a bit of detail carving, as you say.

Regarding the hole in the top, it was about three inches thick and the hole saws I have can't cut to that depth.

So I ended up drilling a ring of holes with a regular bit, and then drilled out the remaining material between the holes at an angle. It wasn't the prettiest way to do it, but it got the job done with the tools I had available.

Thank you for the thoughtful comment!

rjtumble (author)seamster2015-01-08

yes, I can see how a 3" deep hole would be a bit tricky. I can't wait to try this project out myself. It's exciting to think of all the different ways you can accomplish the same result.

seamster (author)rjtumble2015-01-08

Yes indeed. That's why I love woodworking so much.

There are so many ways to get things done, that a lot of times you're only limited by your own creativity and persistence (rather than lack of tools.)

If you do make one, please post some photos of it here! Or better yet, write up your own instructable to document the process you take. I'd love to see how it goes!

ccooper-burke (author)2015-01-08

Seamster! THIS has to be one of my favorite pieces on the site - maybe the #1! I love WHY & HOW you made it, and it looks awesome! Thank you so much for this!

seamster (author)ccooper-burke2015-01-08

Aw, shucks! You are very sweet, thank you for the kind words!

sdick3 (author)2015-01-08

hats off to you. amazing talent. how about those squarish milk jugs for other half

wparkin (author)2015-01-08

i think it looks as amazing with the stain as it wouldve without; it gives it a more classic/antique look. exceptional work!

seamster (author)wparkin2015-01-08

That's good to hear, thank you! I like that old look, and that's what I was going for.

spectaculareyedcat (author)2015-01-08

Excellent idea. i would probably go with linseed oil my self .. and natural .. but i always try to not use wood stain unless i need contrasting colors for effect. thank you so much for a informative and well written Instructable!

Thank you for the nice comment! Surprisingly, I have never used linseed oil on any of my projects. I need to pick some up and try it!

marter1229 (author)2015-01-08

I love it. Nicely done.

askjerry (author)2015-01-08

Not perfect... but if it was... it would not have the same charm that it does now. The imperfections make the piece. Excellent job!

seamster (author)askjerry2015-01-08

I agree! Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment!

Mr AbAk (author)2015-01-07

You are Truely Awesome Ibler!!

NathanSellers (author)2015-01-07

Your projects great. so much fun. way to cover two contests in one.

Tecwyn Twmffat (author)2015-01-07

Very cool!

xxlauraxx (author)2015-01-07

This is so nifty! It would look great filled with wheat stalks. My family has a farm in Saskatchewan, and when my dad goes up to visit, he often brings back wheat to display in the house.

Also, I love how perfectly this fits into the Mason Jar Challenge, the Wood Contest, *and* the Homemade Gifts Contest. Zing!

seamster (author)xxlauraxx2015-01-07

Thanks Laura! I think wheat stalks are the way to go, too.

It does seem to fit those contests well . . . but I'm happily ineligible to win anything! :)

About This Instructable




Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
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