How to Make a Wooden Mug


A wooden mug is an engaging and surprisingly easy carving project that can be done with a few simple tools. Wooden mugs have a simple shape and don't require any ornamentation or sophisticated design to look good. Carving out the middle of the mug is time consuming, so this project requires at least as much patience as skill. Find a comfortable spot outdoors and carve while you talk with a friend or enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood
  • Pencil
  • Hatchet
  • Whittling knife
  • Carving spoon
  • Rasp
  • Sandpaper
  • Mineral oil
  • Clean cloth
  • Pick out a piece of wood that would cover the area of the mug you want, including the handle, and that is slightly taller than you want your mug to be. In most cases, you will be using a piece that's roughly cube shaped.

  • Draw a circle on top of the wood with a pencil in the size you want the outside of your mug to be. Draw a rectangle projecting from the side of the mug to represent the handle.

  • Chip away at the wood with a hatchet until it is in the approximate shape of a mug.

  • Carve the outside of the mug with a whittling knife. Round it and taper it slightly so that it looks like a rough-hewn mug. Don't worry about getting it completely smooth; that comes later.

  • Cut a hole in the middle of the rectangular part of the mug with a carving spoon. Widen it into a handle with the carving spoon, a whittling knife or both.

  • Carve out the inside of the mug with a carving spoon. As you get close to the edge, measure the thickness by pinching the cup between your thumb and index finger to make sure it doesn't get too thin. The edge of the mug should be at least 1/4 inch thick, although generally no more than 3/4 of an inch.

  • Sand down any bumps, burs or uneven edges on the mug using a rasp. Grind it into the final shape you want.

  • Sand it smooth using sandpaper. Start with coarse paper, then use progressively finer grains until the mug is nice and smooth.

  • Apply mineral oil to a clean cloth and rub a thick layer all over the cup. If the surface appears to lose its shiny look, it has absorbed all the oil. Apply a fresh layer of mineral oil. Continue to apply oil until the wooden cup won't absorb any more.

  • Wipe off excess oil with another clean cloth. The mug is now sealed against water.

Tips & Warnings

  • The best type of woods to use for making mugs include cherry, maple, oak and black walnut because they're sturdy and tend not to splinter easily. Never use pallet woods, which can be toxic.
  • When using a hatchet, place the wood on top of another piece of wood and strike it from a kneeling position. Aim for the corners instead of the middle so your hatchet doesn't get stuck.
  • When whittling, make sure your knife is sharp. Go with the grain of the wood and cut away from your body.
  • When using a carver's spoon, place your thumb on top of the handle for support and apply pressure based on how deep you want the spoon to go into the wood. Rub the spoon back and forth to gradually shave wood away.
  • Some rasps have two sizes of teeth and other have four. Only draw the rasp in one direction to remove material.
  • Mineral oil is not the same thing as mineral spirits. Mineral spirits are not food safe; do not use them.
  • Be particularly careful when using sharp tools like hatchets and whittling knives. Wear thick gloves and eye protection.

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