Kuksa wood cup - drinking from nature (blog)

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Blog entry by mafe posted 05-16-2017 12:17 AM 6377 reads 4 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Kuksa wood cup
drinking from nature

Yes I don’t really know what to call it, so I will call it a wood cup, I think it should be made from birch burl and not spalted beech, if it should really be a Kuksa.
You can find this under many names: Kuksa, Wood cup, Guksi, Duodji, kåsa…

I posted some sap harvest pegs the other day and people asked; ‘what will you use birch sap for?’, the answer is simple; ‘for drinking’, it can be a sweet supplement for your drinking water, while hiking, or you can cook it down into a sirup (then you need a lot).
What better way to drink it, than from a cup made from wood and when the wood was a gift from a LJ friend you visited (thank you Thomas), then I think we are close to the point, I call happiness.

I made a update of the blog, so read the full blog before you use it for advise.

The last one I made was a wee small, so I wanted to make a size of app. 250 ml. / one cup, here is how it went.

Once home in the shop after my visit to Thomas place, I draw up the idea on the wood with a marker.

Drawing on both sides.
After what I have learned, I should stay away from the old heart wood and place it so the grain will run through the cup, not down the cup. Guess it is to make the tracheids stop transporting water up or down… and to get as little cracks as possible.

First I cut the log in two.
I decided to save the second half, for two purposes.
1. To help keeping the roughly shaped cup moist, since it was now in my shop and I was afraid it would crack up if drying too fast, since the wood was quite wet when I got it.
2. to see what would happen if I left it to dry in the shop after.

Now it was just to close in on the shape.

In both directions.

We got kind of a cup.
Evne it will be quite a stupid idea, to try and fill it with coffee now…

Next was to remove some wood from the inside, I choose to use a drill, since I am a wee lazy. ;-)

Then roughing out the sides, to a even thickness, leaving them quite thick.
In this way it have some mass to prevent it from deforming too much, while drying, yet enough removed, to prevent cracking from tension. I am no expert in this, just saw what people did, when making bowls from green wood.
After this, I put it in a almost closed plastic bag, together with the rest of the log, this would hopefully keep the moisture up a wee and helt it drying slow, even it was now inside the shop…

This is how the cut of looked after a few weeks… All cracked up, from end to end, useless for a cup.

But the cup held up fine!
So I started on the final shaping, using power tools, since I am a wee lazy as I admitted.
Here roughing the outside with a supersander, this is quick and intuitive.
Really happy to see the life come out of the wood here.

Inside I tried for the first time in my life to really use a power rasp, wauu that was fast and not difficult at all. A little tough for the hand to hold it and important to keep track of the wall thickness. This was why I did the outside first.

Then I used different spoon knifes for shaping the inside and removing the rasp marks.
Finally using a scraper to make the finish inside.

Ohh yes, drilled and shaped a hole in the handle for my finger.

I left the base flat, so it can stand.

Handle from a different view.
Notice I left the whole cup a wee rough, I like it that way, not too neat, a cup for nature, made from nature.

For finish, linseed oil and bees wax.
(Some might feel more at peace with walnut oil, since you need to eat and drink from it).
Fist plenty of oil, leave it to soak for some days are best, I did only few hours here, but will give it more after the first uses.

A piece of bees wax are melted with some oil in the cup, with a hair dryer.
Like this the wax will hopefully penetrate the wood better.

Just be patient, it will melt.

With a buffer on the drill press, a thick layer of bees wax are polished into the wood.
This to water proof and to make it smooth.

On the outside, first polish.

Then wax, to bring out the beauty of the wood.

I think the wood id beautiful!
the cup… yes I am rally happy this time.

Amazing how much life spalting can bring to wood.

It can hold 225 ml. app 8 oz. (one cup), so that’s a fair size for beer, coffee or a soup for a break, while hiking.

MaFe branding for the joy of it.

It fits like a glove to my hand, so I am more than happy to be honest.

Finished up with a leather strap for hanging it on my rucksack or in the belt.
Now I can’t wait to get into nature again.


The kuksa was just on a small hike, notice it just behind the jetboil!
The cup worked just fine and i a perfect size.

Ok, first update is to melt away all extra wax and oil, BEFORE going on a hike…
Have to admit it tasted linseed oil and there were melted wax on top of the first four cups of coffee (see picture)...
Lesson learned and perhaps I will use walnut oil next time, since I think coffee with walnut are better than coffee with linseed…
But no big deal just for the joy.

I was not the only one liking the cup.
Second lesson is that one should make the wood wet after sanding, so the fibers can rise and then sand again, before the final finish.
This is an old trick and I don’t know how I could forget, since I do that on knife and spoons, when they are finished and even did it on my first kuksa (perhaps I’m just getting older).
Now I will just sand it again, with grids 320, 600, 1200 and then perhaps a thin layer of oil mixed with wax or if the wood seems not dry, I will just start using it after.
This time I will make it ready at home before my next hike.

Found this users instructions online:
Pour hot (not boiling) water in the kuksa.
Wait for two minutes and pour the water out.
Wait at least two hours.
Make coffee and rub the wet coffee grounds to the inside of the Kuksa for 3-5 minutes.
Use the Kuksa for drinking coffee daily for at least a month – this makes it ready for normal use.
Never use any sort of detergents, soaps or dish washing products on the kuksa – the wood will absorb anything you present it with, rinsing is enough of a wash.



I have two important updates to make and a wee conclusion on the wood.
For the wood, I think I have to say Beech is not a good wood for this purpose.
Anyone that had a kitchen spoon in beech, knows it keeps getting rough on the surface in use, where other woods gets more and more closed and smooth. So I have a feeling the beech wood, will keep sucking water through those fibers in the surface.
At least it happened to me…
Next the bees wax in the surface don’t get deep enough into the wood, so it just melts and you get bees wax in the coffee, so I think this one is also not a perfect solution, even I will still think a oil with wax in it, will be fine.
I tried the use it for days method after cleaning the inside a wee, this was fine until I forgot the cup with hot coffee for a day… It cracked up… Two huge cracks on each side, auchhhhhh.
So I left it to dry, with two clamps pushing on the wood and it actually closed it up, in fact so fine that it was hard to find the cracks but I was aware that they would come back, as soon as I put coffee in the cup.

I cut a few small Butterflies and chiseled out for them, so they could hold the crack together.
The crack goes right through the butterfly from the edge of the cup.

Here in place.

Mixing some epoxy.

Glue in the hole.
(Here on the other side).

Once the glue was dry, the butterfly were cut to level the cup.

On this side I made two, since the crack was quite deep.

Here it is after the repair.
I think it added life to it, so I am actually happy for this wee fatal mistake.

And the other side.
On the inside I cleaned it up and now try with almond oil…
I think the coffee will taste better with a wee taste of almond, than with the linseed taste.
The cup holds fine coffee for now but it will be last fix, otherwise it will become a serving bowl.

Perhaps this can inspire others to drink from natures source.

Best thoughts,


-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

18 comments so far

View lew's profile


12938 posts in 4364 days

#1 posted 05-16-2017 12:32 AM

Gorgeous cup, Mads!

Us old Navy guys never wash our coffee cups. A quick rinse is all that’s needed 8^)

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

3992 posts in 1886 days

#2 posted 05-16-2017 01:27 AM

Thanks Mads. It has given me some hints on how to duplicate a ladle we have.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10869 posts in 4661 days

#3 posted 05-16-2017 04:33 AM

Very COOL cup!

Very educational… learned how to melt bees wax… to waterproof wood…

Super COOL!

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View HerbC's profile


1801 posts in 3468 days

#4 posted 05-16-2017 04:59 AM

Gorgeous cup, Mads!

Us old Navy guys never wash our coffee cups. A quick rinse is all that s needed 8^)

- lew

Yeah, I remember how upset the Master Chief was when I (a Fireman Apprentice at the time) scrubbed out his coffee mug, removing decades of patina…

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Druid's profile


2163 posts in 3404 days

#5 posted 05-16-2017 05:52 AM

Very nicely done, and well explained with good photos.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Brit's profile


7890 posts in 3452 days

#6 posted 05-16-2017 05:59 AM

Very nice Mads. The wood looks amazing and I like the traditional design. I still haven’t made a kuksa. I have all the stuff, but just haven’t had the time yet.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View steliart's profile


2895 posts in 3297 days

#7 posted 05-16-2017 09:14 AM

This is a very beautiful cup … I love it !!!!!!!

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View Bricofleur's profile


1467 posts in 3802 days

#8 posted 05-16-2017 12:12 PM

Beautiful and unique Mads !


-- Learn from yesterday, work today and enjoy success tomorrow. --

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1256 days

#9 posted 05-16-2017 12:49 PM

Priceless … and I love the new stamp!

View madts's profile


1923 posts in 2949 days

#10 posted 05-16-2017 01:25 PM

Mads I am going to have to come to Denmark again to really show you how to do things right. :)

Wonderful cup.


-- Thor and Odin are still the greatest of Gods.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23770 posts in 3714 days

#11 posted 05-17-2017 04:45 AM

Excellent tutorial, Mads!!


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Woodknack's profile


13021 posts in 2989 days

#12 posted 05-17-2017 11:38 PM

Handsome cup

-- Rick M,

View mafe's profile


12317 posts in 3698 days

#13 posted 05-19-2017 01:24 AM

Kuksa had it’s first tour with me in nature, did really fine.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Roger's profile


21030 posts in 3413 days

#14 posted 05-28-2017 08:58 PM

Cheers Mads.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View mafe's profile


12317 posts in 3698 days

#15 posted 05-30-2017 10:46 PM

Cheers Roger.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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