Wood Mug

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12

That branch is the same thickness as a mug...hum.

Inspired by bricobart's mug. This one is considerably less manly though.

Tools/Materials:

Tree Branch

Saw (Table, Miter, Hand, etc.)

Hammer & Chisels

Drill

Sandpaper

Finish

Step 1: Find It, Cut It, Debark It

  1. Net time you drive past a brush pile, find a mug-sized branch. I don't know what species mine was, but it looked nice.
  2. Trim the branch to your desired mug height.
  3. Take the bark off. My first thought was to do this with the bark on, but this sample had loose bark so I took it off.

I used a flat head screwdriver to remove most of the bark.

Step 2: Split It

  1. Split the log into four sections. Take your time.

I moved the chisels to the side a few times to encourage the location of the split.

Step 3: Remove It

Remove the wood that will be the inside of the mug.

  1. Measure up 3/4" from the bottom of the mug.
  2. Cut a notch to within 3/8" to the side of the wood.
  3. Chisel from the top down toward the cut to remove the inside material.

3/4" gives a strong, sturdy base; I wouldn't go much less.

The saw makes a straight cut on a rounded object, so you need to be careful not to cut too far along the sides.

A few times I tried to gouge out a big section only to have the split move too deep and mess up the sides. Slow and steady wins the race.

Step 4: Sand It, Glue It, Sand It

  1. Sand the individual pieces paying particular attention to the insides since once the parts are glued together it will be difficult to get in there. Do not sand the edges along the sides or the bottom so they will fit together without any spaces.
  2. Use rubber bands to dry fit the pieces. Glue two pieces together at one time. Although the other pieces are included in the glue up, they are there to help hold everything together.
  3. Fill any gaps with wood glue and sand the seems well.
  4. Glue the third; fill and sand. Then the fourth.

I tried filling gaps with sawdust from this project mixed with wood glue, but couldn't get a good consistency.

Sanding the inside was difficult. I glued some sandpaper to a wood disc and attached that to a metal rod. This helped sand the inside.

Step 5: Handle It

  1. Find some sticks in the backyard.
  2. Take the bark off and give them a good sanding.
  3. Drill holes all the way through the mug and larger stick.

They fit really snug, but I added glue for security and water-tightness.

Step 6: Finish It

  1. Finish with your finish of choice.

I used a polyurethane. It needed a few coats to be fully watertight.

This was a wedding gift, so after I applied the finish I carved a design into the wood. The stain soaked into the fresh carving but wiped off of the finish.

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    12 Discussions

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    ClenseYourPallet

    24 days ago

    Well that is just awesome! Great pics and instructions. You’ve got a vote from me! Well done

    1 reply
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    george57

    26 days ago

    You probably ought to add some images of the inside after the handle was attached. I'm still concerned about ensuring the wood selected is a safe variety, is sufficiently seasoned, and that all glues and finishes are safe for extended immersion in hot liquids. But nevertheless, a neat idea, nicely executed.

    1 reply
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    Gadisha

    26 days ago

    It turned out nice :)
    Be Carefull not to use toxic wood.

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    barnard47Gadisha

    Reply 26 days ago

    Good point.
    No Mulga mugs, people!

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    ShawnL36

    27 days ago

    Looks great.

    Questions: Glue and poly...how does that affect using this as a drinking mug? Especially for warm fluids... is there human safe glue and poly for repeated use?

    3 replies
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    barnard47ShawnL36

    Reply 27 days ago

    Yeah, as I was researching finishes that seems to be a popular question.
    I wasn't concerned about the glue since it would be covered by the finish. I guess if you used a soaking finish instead of a covering finish that might be a consideration.
    I use polyurethane on my kitchen table and am not concerned about contamination with food that falls on it. I haven't used any wood mugs for hot liquid (a warmed autumnal mead?) or for an extended time.
    Found these:
    Popular Woodworking - "Is Polyurethane Food-Safe?"
    Wood Magazine - "Is Your Finish Food Safe?"

    Anyone have some experience with this?

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    candyallisbarnard47

    Reply 26 days ago

    Polyurethane is food safe after it has FULLY cured. while yes polyurethane is cured in typically 24 hours it could take longer before its ready for anything coming close to consumption. however it is not really intended for continuous moisture. For future projects like this i would suggest Wood Balm (beeswax and mineral oil) as both are food grade and the mixture has been used for years as a butcher block finish. you could also try salad bowl finish. this will have to be reapplied after each use. also it should noted that wood will expand when introduced to moisture. when it expands oils left in the wood could seep into the liquid. please check the wood toxicity on https://www.wood-database.com/wood-finder/ to ensure its safe to use for foodgrade products.

    - your friendly neighborhood woodworker

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    locoparentisShawnL36

    Reply 27 days ago

    Absolutely the right question. Look up “kuksa” and make one by carving it.

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    seamster

    4 weeks ago

    This is really slick. I like the way you did the staining for the carved part, that really looks good. Nicely done!

    1 reply
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    barnard47seamster

    Reply 27 days ago

    Thanks. I was nervous about that part. Didn't want to go through all that work and mess it up.