Travel Wooden Mug Project For The Lathe

travel-mug-0 In the US alone we consume over 400 million cups of coffee every day. Over half of the US population drinks coffee regularly. So, chances are you know someone that drinks coffee; it might even be you. A re-usable travel wooden mug makes a nice personal gift for the coffee drinkers in your life. The stainless steel insert and cover clean easily and the right finish makes the wooden body very durable.I’ve turned dozens of these mugs; from solid pieces of wood, glued up blocks with contrasting colors and using stave construction; the latter example is the basis for this article.

Related Video: Custom Wood Travel Mug Using Stave Construction


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travel-mug-1 Start by cutting eight 6″ long staves from your selected hardwood; edges are cut at 22.5 degrees; the wide surface should be about 1-9/16″ wide; you’ll find the project allows a little forgiveness in this dimension — though not a lot. The key is having all the staves the same width. I cut a 50″ long stave and chop the 6″ pieces from that. You’ll also need a bottom disk, two 1/2″ dowels about 6″ long and two 5″ hose clamps.

In this example I used alternating staves of walnut and maple, with a walnut base. Lightly sand the bevels to ensure they are clean and free of inconsistencies.

travel-mug-2 Next, we’ll assemble the staves and glue up 2 sides of the project as separate pieces. Use the 2 dowels as separator blocks between the halves. (Be sure when you glue up the halves you only put glue on 3 joints.)Using the dowels between the 2 halves allows for slight variation in the 22.5 degree angles; this avoids any gaps between staves.

travel-mug-3 Clamp the staves and allow to cure for an hour or so.

travel-mug-4 Remove the clamps and true the remaining joint surfaces using sandpaper on a true, flat surface.

travel-mug-5 Once you’re sure the final surfaces are true, apply glue and clamp.

travel-mug-6-227x300 Now you’re ready to attach the base. I cut a 4″ circle of wood on the band saw for this. Before applying the disk I take a tiny slice of material off one end using a chop saw so the end grain surface is clean and dead flat. Apply glue and center the base, then clamp it.Once the glue is fully cured — I typically wait a day — your project blank is ready to turn.

travel-mug-7I start by attaching the blank to my scroll chuck using outward pressure in the open end of the blank. I turn a 2-3/4″ diameter tenon on the base about 1/4″ in from the end.Next, reverse the blank in the chuck, grasping the tenon. Be sure your project is held very securely in the chuck, the next step generates a lot of pressure on that tenon. Using an appropriate tool, hollow the inside of the blank until it fits the stainless steel insert — check it often. (Hint: if the insert doesn’t quite fit, draw a single line down the outside of the insert with a marker. Push the insert into the blank and rotate it slightly against the stationary blank. When you pull the insert free, you’ll see scuffing on the marker line, giving you some idea how far into the blank your insert fits before catching.)

travel-mug-8 As you can see, my tool rest is inserted into the blank. I prefer to use a Hunter #3 or #4 carbide hollowing tool — very few catches and a good finish (Don’t sand the inside).Once your insert fits nicely you’re ready to turn, sand and finish the outside.

travel-mug-9 Note: the inserts have a rolled edge — be sure to turn a flange on the top of your blank to seat inside that rolled edge.

travel-mug-10-197x300 Finally, apply a few dots of silicone calk to the inside of the blank. When you press the insert into the blank the silicone ensures a tight fit and prevents separation of the two pieces. The silicone is flexible and resilient with both cold and hot liquids.I also run a very fine bead of silicone under the rolled edge of the insert OR on the flange of the blank. This provides a seal between the blank and the insert.

  • Sources:
  • Travel Mug Insert
  • Rockler #27188
  • (800) 279-4441
Discussion
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17 Responses to “Travel Wooden Mug Project For The Lathe”
  1. Tom Canfield

    Very well presented. The dowel trick will greatly help getting the fit of the two halves. This may push me to use the 6 kits ordered about a year ago. You did not mention the thickness of wood required and one would hope that 3/4″ thickness is adequate. I think that one set of instructions called for 7/8″ material and that would be more difficult to come by out of the scrap pile.

    Reply
  2. Tom Canfield

    Very well presented. The dowel trick will greatly help getting the fit of the two halves. This may push me to use the 6 kits ordered about a year ago. You did not mention the thickness of wood required and one would hope that 3/4″ thickness is adequate. I think that one set of instructions called for 7/8″ material and that would be more difficult to come by out of the scrap pile.

    Reply
  3. gjust

    I make a lot of these and in addition to the 22.5 degree cut, I put a 2 degree taper on them so that the base is a little smaller. I cut them about 6.5 inches long with a sled on my table saw. In addition, I buy travel mugs at Hobby Lobby for $4 and remove the plastic.

    Reply
  4. gjust

    I make a lot of these and in addition to the 22.5 degree cut, I put a 2 degree taper on them so that the base is a little smaller. I cut them about 6.5 inches long with a sled on my table saw. In addition, I buy travel mugs at Hobby Lobby for $4 and remove the plastic.

    Reply
  5. Bill Wells

    Excellent instructions; I’ll go with yours rather than instructions that came with the mug!

    Reply
  6. shawn29316

    I’ve always wanted to make one of these mugs but, given that it has to be washed, I’m not sure how to finish the wood to protect it. I’d appreciate any comments you might have!

    Reply
    • bpb224

      I’ve made a lot of these mugs, and it comes down to the finish that you use. Personally I use Spars polyurethane exterior, it has everything you need to protect the wood. But remember its still wood which means no dishwasher and don’t let it soak in the sink with the dishes, just hand wash and dry with a towel. What I do is about every six months I’ll re-polish them with minwax paste wax on the buffer. Everyone has there own way you’ll find yours, just like I did by trial and error. hope this helps. plus I don’t use the dowel rod waste of time.

      Reply