Advice for wooden beer mugs

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Blog entry by Mark Edmondson posted 03-01-2011 03:37 AM 12904 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi everyone. I would like your advice on a process problem.

I’m looking to make 40-50 cylindrical wooden beer mugs with handles.
To make the body, I plan to turn out a long cylinder on a lathe, then cut it down to length. The I’ll drill the center out with a big forstner bit on a drill press. (I don’t have the capabilities to center drill this on my little lathe)

From there, I’ll rout a flat spot to glue on the handle.

My questions:

Is there a better way to do this?
I though I’d finish the outside with polyurethane, and the insides with beeswax. Good idea? Do you have any experience with this?

Thanks everyone!

9 comments so far

View 489tad's profile


3653 posts in 3526 days

#1 posted 03-01-2011 04:13 AM

Beer Mug, got my attention. I’m not a turner but, do you have the ability to put the pieces in a chuck after you drill out the center? My only thought is you would need a pretty big forstner bit to drill out a beer worthy mug. Volume is key. Drill then bore out the mug out on the lathe so you can get the proper inside volume to outside area ratio. I’m not sure of the calculation but I am willing to run tests.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View RTim's profile


60 posts in 3207 days

#2 posted 03-01-2011 04:35 AM

I’m not a turner either, but what if you drilled the hole in the blank first and used a rabbeted blank to clamp the hole end with the tail stock? For a finish, beeswax may not be completely liquid-proof. You might want to try a few coats of mineral oil or boiled linseed oil first then a coat of beeswax or a mix of mineral oil and beeswax. For a truly impenetrable interior finish, a 2-part epoxy would coat the wood and cure to a nice gloss. It would also cure faster than any other finish type and would not add any type of flavor to the beverage.

-- Tim from MA -- "Well done is better than well said." - Benjamin Franlin

View CaptainSkully's profile


1611 posts in 4073 days

#3 posted 03-01-2011 05:05 AM

Who said beer mugs have to be round? I’ve seen very nicely jointed rectangular sake cups. Just trying to think inside the box…

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 3403 days

#4 posted 03-01-2011 12:55 PM

Instead of a flat for the handle, how about a sliding dovetail?

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Big_Bob's profile


173 posts in 4223 days

#5 posted 03-01-2011 07:19 PM

My concern would be safety. When drilling the hole on a drill press the big forstner bit could catch and cause the mug to spin or drag your hand into the bit. Ouch!

If I was doing it I would hollow out the mug on the lathe! You can use a bowl gouge or a scraper if that is all you have. If you do not have a chuck for the lathe use a glue block on a face plate.

As for the finish, I would use a wood like white oak (red oak is too porous) and an oil finish like walnut oil or mineral oil. The white oak is what they made the old wooden bear barrels out of.

Anyway make a sample part then test it. See what works best.

-- Bob Clark, Tool Collector and Sawdust Maker

View Mark Edmondson's profile

Mark Edmondson

40 posts in 3717 days

#6 posted 03-01-2011 09:21 PM

Thanks for the info everyone. I’ll take it all under advisement and see what I come up with!

View JamesVavra's profile


304 posts in 3830 days

#7 posted 03-01-2011 10:59 PM

I suspect that you will have problems drilling out the mug with a large forstner bit – you’ll be digging into end grain which will be a lot of work on 40-50 mugs. (I’ve done something similar with candles and it was not much fun.)

I’d finish the inside and the outside both with poly – it’s food safe once cured.

View chrisstef's profile


17960 posts in 3521 days

#8 posted 03-03-2011 03:44 PM

Ill be glad to sign on as the official tester of said beer mugs.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View rogerw's profile


262 posts in 3204 days

#9 posted 03-03-2011 04:25 PM

i would think the same rules apply as with any other type mug…. drink it while it’s cold! :^)

-- >> my shop teacher used to say "do the best at everything you make for your mom because you're going to see it for the rest of your life!" <<

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