Picture of wooden beer mug
This instructable is for making a big wooden beer mug.
I made it 15cm x 22cm.
It is not so suitible for drinking beer (pallet wood can be toxic) but for decorative purpose or ,like me as a trash and beercaps bin.
If you wanne make one you can drink from ,there are some suggestions in the comments.

Step 1: Cutting the wood

Picture of cutting the wood
For this mug i used some pallet wood i had laying around.
You will need 15 sticks cut at a length of 22 cm and at an angle of 12 degrees.
jbain6 made it!1 month ago
i used leather for my handle and straps.

Makes one feel like a drink! ^^

DanH15 made it!3 months ago

I made this and it worked out really well too. thank you

raveeramphai3 months ago

Thank you so much for your project. It was really inspiring. I really appreciate that you included your trial and error through the whole process.


guru93526 months ago

length= 220mm, breadth=31mm, what is the thickness??

Any, it doesn't actually matter, however if you want more capacity then I would suggest making it thinner, about 15mm or so, but remember, leave room for sanding as this will take off a few millimetres (on each side).

darknss1 made it!6 months ago
I staind mine and wanted to get more creative and made a lid for it I put a strong guy on top but probly going to make it a cross instead

How much liquid does it hold if you follow the instructions correctly and to every last detail. I am planning to make this for my GCSE Woodwork project and need to know how much it holds so I can write my specification accordingly.

dude...just as he said...pallet wood may be toxic...so...unless if you used another type of wood i wouldn't drink anything on it if i where you '-'

I am going to use Oak and Beech, then coat and seal it with a non-toxic organic finish of some sort. I am thinking about using a salad bowl finish of some kind.

FYI, You can safely use just about any oil or water-based polyurethane, varnish, lacquer, shellac,
or wipe-on finish. Once the solvent that carries the "solids" part of the finish has evaporated and the finish is
fully cured (no more finish smell when you take a whiff with your nose next to the finish), the
coating is safe to come into contact with food or the mouth.

Thanks, that's helped me out quite a bit.

Jodex4 years ago
I thought that I could make a little barrel, about 35 cm tall. The problem is that I don't have any table saw or a bandsaw so it's kinda hard to get that right angle. Does anybody have any suggestions what to use? I have a skill saw, but I don't think that I am able to change the angle of the blade.

low budget/lazy way...it would break the "medieval" style of the mug...but...yeah...if you're short on money...you can just buy a cheap plastic/glass cup...and glue it inside the mug...

There are some very good videos on YouTube on making a table saw from a skill saw.


Izzy Swan makes some very cool jigs!

flamekiller8 months ago

I like this. We've been roped into a mug exchange for Christmas this year despite my protests (we are overloaded with mugs). I think mine is going to be a sort of Mugception, like those Russian nesting dolls. I'll start with a huge one of these and end up with a little dollhouse mug.

I think I'll use red or white oak finished with salad bowl finish.

LnPMarklar8 months ago
What should I use to make this safe to drink from

How much does it hold if you follow the intructions correctly

erikthered213 made it!10 months ago

Thanks for the idea and instructions. I used douglas fir for mine and finished with mahoney's oil then wax. also made mine 10 in tall which may be bordering on insanely large but on the bright side it holds about 4 pints.


Ten points to Gryffindor

ctuck4 years ago
Thanks for the informative instructions. Also found a lot of info in the comments. I made one following your instructions and am now modeling some other designs by making minor changes to angles and lengths:


Attached my results from my build. I used fresh clean wood found a leak in a knot hole. I plan to give it a bee wax treatment.
craig3 ctuck3 years ago
I know it's a while off, but I'd like to ask about your bee wax treatment for your wooden mug, Do you brush it on or dip the mug into the wax?
antioch craig32 years ago
There is natural beeswax, rather solid unless molten, and there are a thousand of commercial products that come with thousands of additives making it liquid, sometimes toxic. So, depends on the form the wax comes in, I'd guess. Dipping it in sounds best, for maximum seal use it in an ultrasonic cleaner (they're cheap, for cleaning glasses but not worth buying one for just a mug or two. for some odd reason people throw them away a lot, too. i see many in the streets. age of the contact lense, maybe?)

This just for a mug with decorative purposes, of course. I would never dip a mug into wax or oil and later drink from it. Eurgh.

Untreated wood is antibacterial. Your only concerns are mold and bacterial colonies originating from larger remainds of organic matter (soup, broth, whatever you will drink from that mug that isn't water or schnaps).
Wash it out with water, a thorough scrub from time to time, and a mild detergent if the mug contained oil, hot water and mild detergent if it contained fats. This is mostly to remove other organic matter that clings onto them and which could breed unhealthy things.
The detergent is not really necessary though. The worst things that fats and oils could do to your mug are giving it odors. At best they will add sealage and a beautiful, natural patina.
Beeswax is a traditional sealant which I'm pretty sure is food-safe, melted on- and into the wooden and leather mugs to seal them. a good choice if you use it for alcohol, because it won't dissolve (unlike some more modern alternatives). If properly done, I think the beeswax will create a smooth surface that can be easily cleaned- maybe less hygienic than a brand-new plastic mug, but better than an old one with scratches, but glass would probably be the most hygienic.
hot food might damage the coating a bit, I guess
tim_n flamesami11 months ago
I use beeswax to seal leather tankards
flamesami tim_n11 months ago

Wow! I bet that smells amazing! Do you do one coat and soak it or several coats?

Hey, Check out the food safe finish I made with Beeswax and Mineral oil. http://www.instructables.com/id/100-Food-safe-home-made-wood-finish/

Beeswax is pretty hard but the mineral oil softens it to chap-stick like consistency, goes on nice and it 100% food safe. Also makes your skin very very soft.
I have been told this can go a long time in-between applications.
ctuck craig33 years ago
Hey Craig. I have not yet waxed it. The method I was going to use was to rub the wooden surface with bee wax, then place the mug in the oven (with something under it to catch any drips). Still researching a little what temp I want to warm it at. This should allow me to properly cover the inside and/or the outside of the mug without using a large amount of wax. It's also a lot easier to manage than dipping or brushing. The warming will melt the wax onto and into the wooden surface. I might need to do this more than once. I will post back if I get to it soon, seems like a good indoor activity for the short days ;) Let me know what you end up doing.
jmscotton1 year ago

mine is made from cedar and coated with an epoxy glaze. gave it to a friend as a gift. it holds 48oz.


Are you using the same dimensions as he was?

Honestly, I don't remeber. I think I modified it a bit. As for the safety, all the research I did, it all says the once epoxy cures for a while it is safe. I let it sit for a couple weeks to be safe and my friend has had no problems.

Follow up question, is it safe to drink out of?

ctuck made it!1 year ago

Made mine back in June 2011 actually. Just now noticed the 'I Made It' button and well, I wanted to post.

For those of you wanting to learn more about basic coopering and to make a coopered bucket and basically this mug is nothing but a small bucket this book is a good introduction to coopering
How to Make a Coopered Wooden Bucket by James D. Gaster is evidently out of print and used copies are a tad expensive.... But this is a decent book on basic coopering....
Taunton Press has a series of books they printed about different kinds of wood working. in one of these books they talk about and show the very very basics of coopering ... If I remember to do so tonight I will look up the book and give you that information here...
In the book A Yankee Way With Wood the author interviews a modern day cooper this was in the 1960's early 1970's. The man made tubs of all different sizes and again gives some real basic information on making/ coopering tubs....

Foxfire book number 4 shows how they made a butter churn which might show you aspects on cooper/tub making as well. But I am not 100% sure about this...
Very cool what kind of glue did you use,,,? Some glues would be more toxic than others and would leach toxin into the liquids... Not a good thing to drink...
Also walnut oil is a good way to seal your wood with it takes some time for natural walnut oil to set and cure like 5 to 6 months.... but it is safe to use for wood that you are using with food and food preparation....
Country work shops have offered in the past classes on coopering if anyone is interested in it...
They also offer for sale a video on Swiss coopering that you could get some good tips from as well...
Here is their web site on tools, books and DVDS in which you can buy the DVD on Swiss Coopering...!!!
vayres4 years ago
So is this just a decorative mug, then?
I see nothing in the instructions that would safe guard it for beverage use.

Very neat project, though!
Use non-treated wood and non-toxic glue. Keep it dry (turn upside down when you're done drinking out of it.) My only other concern is leaking out of the bottom.
If you fit the bottom piece properly into the bottom grove there should be no leakage... especially for you use the pitch and or bees wax, as stated above, to line the inside of the mug...
grd IchadBuns4 years ago
Immodium may help if that's your main concern.
david.beck grd3 years ago
Hahaha come on, nobody caught this one?
To seal the cup so it dont leak use linseed oil just dont use the boiled linseed oil because its toxic
Would it be possible to seal the mug? I know it'll rot if it stays wet, but I'm afraid the wood will shrink if it gets too dry.
I would think it would be just fine if you used something like mineral oil or a wax based sealer.
frankbenn4 years ago
For sealing this type of project you might try drying it well (in oven) then pour in melted beeswax, swirl and tilt 'til coated and reheat if needed and pour out the excess wax. Recoat as needed. The wood will swell some as it absorbs moisture from the air. Check online for making leather mugs. This type coating was used on them a few centuries ago. I think that melted resin can be added to the wax to make it harder. That may come up in a search.
Have heard of this before great idea...!
mphilips3 years ago
Hey, Just make the mug the way a real cooper would do it. Split your wood out of a log , shape each piece with on the shaving horse, (NO glue) shape a handle with one piece, assemble and make your bands out of wood. Fresh cut white oak is the best. Don't forget to put in the bottom and them keep the mug wet and after the first time it leaks and if mand right it will hold the beer.

Very cool idea....!
Is there a way to cut these precise angles with a miter saw? I am at a loss with cutting the angles here. Any pointers?
It is best to cut the angles on a table saw. set the bevel at 12.5 degrees and run them through. You can make one long strip with the bevel on both sides the cut the to the desired length of your staves.
Mihsin1 year ago
I didn't resd all the comments, however, you could've made a groove in all the slates for insetting the bottom into. This mug looks like a pencil holder, not for drinking? I was hoping you were able to solve the metal ring problem for me.
Nice desk top articles collecter. Tanks,
jecale473 years ago
The project is fine, but it would be best not to glue, the water expands the wood.
The fund must be within a channel that will make the staves and metal tightens the belt.
Wi113 years ago
Thanks for posting, I think I might turn one.
zed6274 years ago
i work with wooden buckets, and we have to soak them in water first so the wood swells and holds the water, i'd try this along with the heated metal bands. Also there is this stuff called brewer's pitch that is a wax used in wooden canteens that can be used with this.
skimmo4 years ago
i used a block plane to acheive my 12* angle and i only ended up useing 11 sides, i guess its because of the error of degrees
fefillo4 years ago
You can cut the groove for the rings and also a groove for the bottom part as dados before cutting the individual pieces. Specially useful if you are using the hose clamps vs the the steel+fire method.
What if you just used wood directly from a small tree? Not very "green" I suppose, but that would fix the added chemicals problem altogether. If you have the proper tools you could eliminate the taping together of small pieces of wood and just cut out the general shape of your mug (including handle, even) and power-sand away. I personally don't know much about woodworking, but I know people carve things out of woodblocks sometimes.
As it ages, it'll tend to develop chines in the base, causing leakage. There's no reason not to use wood from such a source in the way described, though.
mkim14 years ago
If you wanted to try to do it the actual way that they made wooden barrels, you have rings made a size a little smaller than would fit, then heat them up in a coal fire. soak the cup in water (whole thing). Slide the rings on while hot.

the rings should be expanded because of the heat.
the heat burns the soaked wood, making the grooves for the rings.
the water from the wood, causes the rings to cool down, which makes them shrink.

this is why barrels are water tight, without glue.
Congrats on the Make feature, it's well deserved.
kharris44 years ago
When I lived in Australia, many of my friends or their Dad's brewed their own beer at home (beer prices are much higher in OZ), So they always had a cold one ready to offer and they could proudly say they made it themselves. It become their hobby. Many people wonder how to homebrew and a lot of people either think that if they home brew their own beer, it will either be expensive, taste Disgusting or, be Really Difficult to Do. And to be honest, that's what we thought many moons ago before we started to homebrew our own beer. http://bars-and-bartending.com/how-to-homebrew.html has all the directions, ingredients and supplies.
asarris4 years ago
I loved it the only thing you could do to make it more authentic is taken the sheet metal and put both ends into fire. Regular fire works, waited until it was red taken it pounded it so that it fit snugly on the mug. Once you did that put the whole thing in fire. It will expand. Take that out (not with your hands) and place it on the mug. Leave it for about 10 seconds and then pour water on it. Repeat for 2nd band and bam you have a fully waterproof realistic mug that you can use to hold any liquid you want. (not for drinking as the treatment for wood is toxic.
All the pallets we receive here are untreated unless they are the OSB resin type or plastic. The use of pressure treated wood in pallets is by no means universal and in the case of pallets that are for one time use, highly unlikely as it is an added expense and waste of money. The sad fact is we have a twice yearly bonfire to get rid of the untreated ones, despite the free sign out on the fence, we only get a 50% recycle rate. Trucking companies view it a waste to transport empty pallets, even more so as fuel prices have gone up.

While some pallets are treated, the warning is important in that you do not know what may have leaked in transit and has contaminated the wood.
all caps posts are usually ignored as panicked people or spammers. so be calm and reasonable in your warning posts because its a shame to have people miss important info.
You are right.
But I am panicked.
For good reason.
But you make a good point.
Ah well.
Thank you.
Daftehh4 years ago
If you scale it up you can make a pretty nice barrel
ewitwins4 years ago
What I would do for the rings is heat them up with a torch and wet the grooves so that the rings burn themselves into the wood and shrink around it.
melwadone4 years ago
This Looks like a Cool Project, However, A Leaky Beer Mug is Just Plain Alcohol Abuse unless you get under the leak like a Frat Kid at a college Beer party. WHEW! That was FUN! Where's the Towel?
imboox24 years ago
A friend has a homemade lathe using a variable speed drill he chucks these up in to cut grooves for the bands and he smooths up the the top and bottom at the same time. He rounded four off in the lathe by request for a friend. Gave them a more barrel like shape without having to bend the slats.

For any wood product used for a food-related activity, [eating, drinking, cooking & etc.], it's probably wise to avoid toxic woods - for obvious reasons.

Just because something is safe for birds, don't assume it's safe for mammals.

Also, best to know whether the wood you're considering using hasn't been treated with something not intended for ingestion.

gcalabrese4 years ago
What a great idea

#1 Choose an inner diameter to match a common item such as a piece of ABS pipe. Then you can form the mug around the pipe.
#2 Use a hole saw to cut out the bottom. Or find a round-tuit that is already available.
#3 Cutting grooves in the length of the wood strips and pressing in a round gasket might work. Gasket can be rubber or wood or ???.
#4 Handle can be attached using round pegs. Drill matching holes in the handle and the mug.
#5 Laser scribing the wood will make it even cooler looking.

Lorax984 years ago
You will not have to use any sealer if you soak the mug until the wood swells to fill any gaps, and then never let it run dry as you drink mug after mug of rootbeer. I think that the high school students in my shop class will be very interested in this one........ Thanks.
the kids in your shop class are realy lucky all we got to make this year was an automata, which a year five could do, i made a small grand father clock with a swinging pendulum and i was was gonna make the hands tic. designed it made shure it would work, but couldn't manufacture it cos i ran out of time. sometimes i wish i lived in the states
britewood4 years ago
Nice project... Might modify it some to make it more traditional to the Whiskey Barrel construction... check out the how its made video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWsZFCfzNyA
SeamusDubh4 years ago
For your drinking beer issue you could coat it with an epoxy resin.
Maybe more traditional methods using a food grade or mineral oil sealer. These usually require re-coating over time. Or even the Classic use of beeswax.
Your best bet is to coat the inside with bee's wax. That's "bee's wax", NOT parrafin wax or candle wax.
or brewers pitch
askjerry chrwei4 years ago
I had to look that up... found a good reference with video here:

I agree that after taping the sticks together, they should be put on the table saw and a rabbit grove cut for the bottom to lay in.

1) Screw on the handle
2) Insert the bottom.
3) Roll everything together with glue.
4) Finish as needed.

I may have to build one... just 'cause I got a new table saw.
be very careful with brewers pitch... you can get a pretty nasty burn from that stuff.. but it is usually what you want to use for this sort of thing.... epoxy will wear off after a time and mineral oil just seals the wood not the cracks... Bee's wax or Brewer's pitch is what should be used as they both seal the cracks as well as the wood.
Be careful of the wood you use.. esp pallet wood as some is sprayed with various chemicals to prevent rot and so forth. Additionally not all wood is safe to use for food grade use.. I would research types of wood available and use the proper type... all and all not a bad instructible... the metal bands might have long term issues as well =)

first google result for has a nice instructional video, including safety and what do if you get it on you. nice touch for a web store.
Good comments here, celticht32. Some people might think I'm being squeamish (I don't), but pallet wood!? Yikes. That stuff often has all kinds of crap in it. Check out the wiki entry (some of it quoted below). Otherwise, great instructable and a good looking mug! Copper would make a cool band, too.

"Discarded wooden pallets should not be used for fire wood or crafts unless it has been determined that the wood in these pallets has not been treated with wood preservatives, fungicides and/or pesticides. Various pyrethrins and propiconazole are common treatments for wooden pallets. In addition, imported palletized goods are routinely fumigated with highly toxic pesticides. During use, harmful materials or chemicals also may spill on the pallet wood and be absorbed."
saehn saehn4 years ago
Also, I did see that you're not going to drink from yours, but it looks good enough that I'd want to use it for that purpose and I'm sure that others might too.
DrJase4 years ago
Large hose clips work really well for the steel bands, and can be used initially to hold everything together while the glue dries, and left on as the decoration.
Nice 'ible f' sure. I don't have bander, so I'm kinda stumped about the rings.
I wonder if one could fit the rings and then hammer down the final slat for a super tight fit. Maybe I'm over thinking it. Nice job, either way! Great gift idea.
you might be able to take the metal band once its welded together a little smaller than the cup and heat it till its red hot then slip it over the wood and cool it like you do on a barrel or on a wagon wheel...

teddlesruss4 years ago
Just a thought - car parts places sell "universal" worm drive hose clamps - a long steel band, and a couple of the worm screw drives... They can apply a LOT of pressure, and be cut to the diameter of your mug. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? %)

Also there was a thing called Clamptool or something that let you use normal steel wire to form the clamp, tighten it, and fix it - a friend had one and I had extreme envy %)

denotsKO4 years ago
I have a similar mug bought on-line. Mine has 8 sides and is sealed using beeswax which is nontoxic. I think it was heated as the wax was applied so it would soak ito the wood.

Since I only use it one a year (Septeber 19th. Talk-like-a-pirate-day!!!) I dont bother washing it. I rinse it with water and put it back on the shelf.
gmyers21124 years ago
the point of the barrel rings is to compress the wood of each stave onto the next. The Bottom should also have been crafted to fit within a circle cut ring "detent" in the bottom. This does away with the need for any kind of glue or sealant. As it is, you have a marginally decorative item but certainly not one from which I would drink
Chu-Chu4 years ago
I only count 14 sticks in your final product, but you specified 15 here. Am I missing something or is it just a typo?
André B (author)  Chu-Chu4 years ago
No typo ,the final is 14 and the first was 16.
I didn't even notice.
Every deviation multiplies by the number of sticks.
If every stick is 2mm wider on the outside at an angle of 12 the mug gets 10mm bigger.
If the angle is 12,8 degrees instead of 12 and you use 14 sticks ,the mug will still be 150mm.
As you can see they are all small deviations.

rimar20004 years ago
Nice work!

How do you manage to measure (and cut) a precise 12 degrees angle? Because, as are 15 sectors, a small error is multiplied and eventually produces an annoying difference.
Most likely he used a table saw. To which almost all of them have a way of being adjusted to make precise angle cuts. Then just use a long enough piece to minimize the angle cuts and then cut to length.
the old-school version of doing this uses something called a donkey's ear.
It's a specialized shooting board for hand planes.

Hand held circular saws can also have their shoes set to specific angles, to make these cuts.
André B (author)  ironsmiter4 years ago
this is how i did it.
André B (author)  ironsmiter4 years ago
Yes i used a hand held circular saw.
But the first mug i did with a radial arm saw.
You have been very careful, otherwise the sectors will not close at end.
André B (author)  rimar20004 years ago
The tourniquet gives a very large force and pulled it nicely together.
The first rope i used actually broke.
Thanks for the info, ironsmiter.
Thanks, SeamusDubh. I asked that because when I wanted to do a circle cutting a rectangle in 20 triangles of 18º each, it was very difficult to do an acceptable precision cutting.
You can fix it if you are far off. Just assemble the mug completely, trying to get the gap in one place, and if you are pretty close, just cut through the gap with a hand saw. I've used this technique before with picture frames when you don't with get it right.
Yes, jeffeb3, that technique is applicable in this case. What happened to me was that I had a circle of 1.25 m in diameter, which lacked a narrow sector. And my idea was all sectors be equal.
You could make a cross cutting sled with a jig to hold the wood at the right angle then cut them all day long. Or you could use a simular set up with a router table and feed the wood in at the right angle.
Yes, doing it is easy, but doing it with precision is very difficult.
splazem4 years ago