That branch is the same thickness as a mug...hum.
Inspired by bricobart's mug. This one is considerably less manly though.
Saw (Table, Miter, Hand, etc.)
Hammer & Chisels
Step 1: Find It, Cut It, Debark It
- 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.
- Trim the branch to your desired mug height.
- 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
- 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.
- Measure up 3/4" from the bottom of the mug.
- Cut a notch to within 3/8" to the side of the wood.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Fill any gaps with wood glue and sand the seems well.
- 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
- Find some sticks in the backyard.
- Take the bark off and give them a good sanding.
- 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
- 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.