Anyone made a coffee mug, and used it?

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Forum topic by Woodknack posted 10-31-2014 04:26 AM 11834 views 2 times favorited 52 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13585 posts in 3712 days

10-31-2014 04:26 AM

Topic tags/keywords: mug coffee mug woodturning

I’d love to turn a wood coffee mug (not the travel kind) but I see some issues. Not sure how I feel about using finish inside a mug that will hold hot, acidic liquid. And less sure about not using a finish. It’s a conundrum. I have seen wood coffee cups for sale, both commercial and etsy, without liners. Maybe it’s a terrible idea? But I really want to try it.

-- Rick M,

52 replies so far

View Roger's profile


21055 posts in 4136 days

#1 posted 10-31-2014 12:28 PM

I don’t have a clue myself, but, I’ll look forward to seeing some answers from everyone. Gr8 question Rick

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

View Wildwood's profile


2959 posts in 3467 days

#2 posted 10-31-2014 01:26 PM

Rick have seen same discussion concerning wood canteens wood cups before. Too finish or not to finish the inside/outside never really resolved.

JMHO, all about wood specie selection and with no finish. Any closed grain wood that will not impart an off flavor or leak liquid while using will work. Trick here is sand to 600 grit, wet surface & let dry. Then use following sanding sequence 600 thru 2,000 grit and burnish with brown grocery bag inside & out. This is how did my hard maple rolling pins.

Most of your penetrating oil finished not durable even after fully cured. Same with any film finish used on normal woodworking projects. Many people will recommend using epoxy or resin as a finishes. Those products are expensive & tricky to apply. Of course majority of people will recommend using plastic or metal liners.

My only experience here comes from wood salt shaker outside finished with poly inside left unfinished and brought into the house to cure many years ago. Long story short wife took off every bit of four coats of epoxy with hot soapy water. Still have that ugly thing some where.

Let us know how you make out.

-- Bill

View doubleDD's profile


10913 posts in 3375 days

#3 posted 10-31-2014 01:41 PM

I thought I saw someone here mention ca glue as a liner. Don’t quote me but for some reason it rings a bell.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View thetinman's profile


294 posts in 2870 days

#4 posted 10-31-2014 02:05 PM

Wow! What a great question! I talked to a friend of mine who makes barrels and wooden stave buckets. He ardently says to stay away from poly. He says it leaches into the liquids and is not healthy. That’s my shortened polite version of the way he described poly finish on anything coming in contact with food or beverage. Actually, it’s generally how he feels about poly on anything. He is an old time purist.

For cold drinks, such as his ash milking buckets and barrels, he uses the old time method of beeswax melted and rubbed into the wood.

He does not make barrels or buckets for hot liquids. However, he suggested that the inside could be burned and rubbed to keep it from leaking. I asked about the burnt wood giving a bad taste. He says it will alter the flavor a bit at first but not after a couple of cups. He suggests filling it with warm water and letting it sit to soak up “surface” taste for an hour or so. He’s says a cup is not like a burnt barrel used to age Bourbon. The drink does not stay in the cup for years. His biggest concern was the wood splitting given temperature change and the change from wet to dry. But he thinks it can be done if straight grained clear wood is used.

For wood he suggests (in order of his preference) ash, oak or maple.

I don’t know if any of this helps. I just found it interesting and this is the info I got.


-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

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6029 posts in 4995 days

#5 posted 10-31-2014 02:10 PM

I would go for no finish on the inside. They make whiskey barrels out of oak … during the coopering process, the insides of the barrels are charred.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View FaTToaD's profile


394 posts in 4473 days

#6 posted 10-31-2014 02:31 PM

Rick, great question with perfect timing. I was about to post a similar question but in regards to a wood shot glass. I turned a shot glass out of a magnolia branch the other day and finished it inside and out with four coats of salad bowl finish. Now, I’ve “tested” it a handful of times over the last couple weeks and I can tell I need to try something different. I can see a bit of seepage on the bottom after the first shot and it certainly smells like whiskey even days after I’ve cleaned it. I know coffee and a good, stiff bourbon are a bit different but we may end of needed the same thing.

I plan on making a maple, white oak, and cherry shot glasses soon and leaving them unfinished to see how they do.

I’ve also been thinking about some sort of epoxy or resin. My thought is I can hollow it out, fill the bottom with about 1/8” of epoxy/resin, let it cure, turn a waste block the same shape but smaller to sit on top of the cured epoxy leaving around 1/16” – 1/8” gap around the inside of the shot glass, then fill that will epoxy. Once that cures I can return the inside leaving ~1/16” layer of epoxy.

Not sure how it’s going to work but I’m thinking about trying it soon.

-- David

View ChrisK's profile


2061 posts in 4414 days

#7 posted 10-31-2014 02:44 PM

Found this article with links to the FDA site.

-- Chris K

View Don W's profile

Don W

20277 posts in 3900 days

#8 posted 10-31-2014 02:51 PM

maybe some help

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View ChrisK's profile


2061 posts in 4414 days

#9 posted 10-31-2014 02:51 PM

Also found this site:

He uses a 2 part epoxy to coat inside and out.

-- Chris K

View FaTToaD's profile


394 posts in 4473 days

#10 posted 10-31-2014 03:02 PM

Thanks Chris for the link! I had seen that some time back and forgot about it.

I think my biggest concern is liquid leaking through the wood or the finish and/or wood imparting too much of a taste to the beverage. Though in my case the whiskey may actual mask that quite a bit.

-- David

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 3100 days

#11 posted 10-31-2014 03:43 PM

Rick, I posted this in another forum:
Make your wooden coffee cup, get some ground coffee and put it in blender and ground it to powder. put about 1/2 cup of water in the microwave and bring to boil. Slowly pour the powder in the cup and stir. Use the paste to coat your wooden cup and let it dry. Get the excess out and repeat if needed. Now your cup is sealed with coffee. The idea is to never wash the cup which means no milk or cream. Every time you drink a cup of coffee, the coffee will accumulate in the cup and increases the flavor. Use hot bees wax to seal the outside.


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6095 posts in 3683 days

#12 posted 10-31-2014 03:58 PM

Whatever you do, don’t use red oak.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Woodknack's profile


13585 posts in 3712 days

#13 posted 10-31-2014 06:27 PM

Wow, a lot of good information here. I found a guy selling coffee cups who seals them with a 2 part epoxy he claims is food safe for any hot or cold liquid. Google tells me there are food safe epoxies but the only place I found them for sale was ebay, not sure I trust that.

Charring the inside is an interesting idea, I want to try that. Rubbing down with coffee grounds is another interesting idea. Bill’s idea of burnishing the inside was the first thing I thought of and he gave me some good ideas. I do use cream and sugar in my coffee, sometimes, so I’m afraid sealing with epoxy might be the only way to keep the cup from going rancid.

Other thoughts, the bottom will need to be side grain which means a glue up. I’m a little concerned that hot coffee might weaken the glue over time. Epoxy might be a better choice there too.

I’m going to scour the local thrift stores and look for a thin stainless cup that maybe I can just glue to the inside. But the chances of finding something like that seem slim. The downside is I don’t like drinking from metal cups.

Here we go:

-- Rick M,

View ChrisK's profile


2061 posts in 4414 days

#14 posted 10-31-2014 07:14 PM

View Woodknack's profile


13585 posts in 3712 days

#15 posted 10-31-2014 07:53 PM

I saw that Chris but nowhere to buy it, at least in retail quantities.

-- Rick M,

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