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Denette

Wood coffee mugs?

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I love woodworking and I love coffee.  I've often asked myself, "is there any safe way to make a wooden coffee mug?"  

 

There are two obvious problems with the concept of a wood coffee mug: wood movement/moisture issues and finish toxicity.

 

Wood movement might be less of a problem than I'm thinking if the right species were used, though the sudden shift from cold to hot when coffee goes into it might cause it to expand rapidly.  

 

As far as finish goes, well, there is salad bowl finish, I guess.  It goes without saying that whatever is used needs to be absolutely waterproof, otherwise the wood will soak in the moisture of the drink on the inside, and the moisture applied while washing on the outside.  Maybe it could be done by dunking the whole thing in an Epifanes bath a time or two, then topcoating the Epifanes with a finish that is more food-safe?  

 

I've also had an experimental idea that I have no idea about how to try out, which is to make the whole mug and then glaze the entire thing with melted glass.  A few problems present themselves with that plan, too, though - glass over wood that might move seems like a dangerous prospect, and, as far as I know, glazing something requires putting it in a kiln with a liquid glaze over it, then firing the kiln, which obviously would go poorly for wood.  That said, if it were possible to completely seal wood inside glass, would that stop the wood from expanding and contracting?  It would probably close it off from changes due to moisture levels, but I'm not sure that it would fare well with temperature changes.

 

Anyway, it's just a fun thought exercise to me, and thought you guys might find it interesting too.

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Perhaps you could do them in one of those heavy composite finishes that the guys who make wooden bathtubs are using? In that case it seems to be full encapsulating the wood more than simply being a finish.

Another issue is durability. Say you get some kind of heavy clear, plastic coat on it. Are you going to have to keep re-shining the surfaces every few days to keep it looking pristine and unscratched?

This is the bathtub I was talking about. Looks awesome, but have no idea how well it holds up.

http://www.nkwoodworking.com/wood-bathtubs/

 

 

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The Make Something guy made a wood coffee mug, then found out after it's completion the resin he used had a low melting temperature so it couldn't be used.  He said at the end of his video that he couldn't find a safe alternative.  He had asked for suggestions, it may be worth reaching out to him to see if he got any.

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15 minutes ago, C Shaffer said:

I'd go the drop in liner route. Wooden shell, glass cup or the like. 

I agree.

 

Check here: http://www.rockler.com/stainless-steel-turning-insert

and here: http://www.woodcraft.com/product/154508/16oz-stainless-steel-travel-mug-turning-kit-with-screw-top-lid.aspx

 

 

 

Edited by Jfitz
added second link
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They use wooden barrels to store wine and booze (and have for a long time), so why not coffee?  You can call yourself a Cooper if you can make a barrel style coffee mug!

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Wine and booze don't go through the hot/cold heat cycle or the dry/wet cycle. They leak when new until the wood becomes saturated, this requiring a pre-soak. I am not poo-pooing. Just adding thought to Pug's question. 

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1 minute ago, C Shaffer said:

Wine and booze don't go through the hot/cold heat cycle or the dry/wet cycle. They leak when new until the wood becomes saturated, this requiring a pre-soak. I am not poo-pooing. Just adding thought to Pug's question. 

Very good points i did not consider.  I change my vote to liner!

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1 hour ago, Isaac Gaetz said:

Perhaps you could do them in one of those heavy composite finishes that the guys who make wooden bathtubs are using? In that case it seems to be full encapsulating the wood more than simply being a finish.

Another issue is durability. Say you get some kind of heavy clear, plastic coat on it. Are you going to have to keep re-shining the surfaces every few days to keep it looking pristine and unscratched?

This is the bathtub I was talking about. Looks awesome, but have no idea how well it holds up.

http://www.nkwoodworking.com/wood-bathtubs/

That is insane.  I never would've thought to make a wood bathtub.

32 minutes ago, C Shaffer said:

I'd go the drop in liner route. Wooden shell, glass cup or the like. 

It would work, but I feel like it'd be too much of a compromise.  In my imagination the coffee mug has always looked like it was made of wood through and through.

6 minutes ago, Pug said:

They use wooden barrels to store wine and booze (and have for a long time), so why not coffee?  You can call yourself a Cooper if you can make a barrel style coffee mug!

Interesting idea, but I wonder if the tannins released by a hot beverage wouldn't be problematic.

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another option is to just go bare wood and then a few good coats of shellac inside and out.  Should be food safe when dried.

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1 minute ago, Jfitz said:

another option is to just go bare wood and then a few good coats of shellac inside and out.  Should be food safe when dried.

Really?  I had no idea shellac was food safe.  Is it any specific kind, or is there any special prep work?

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11 minutes ago, Pug said:

They use wooden barrels to store wine and booze (and have for a long time), so why not coffee?  You can call yourself a Cooper if you can make a barrel style coffee mug!

Pug... In storing booze in wooden barrels, there's something known as the angels share... That's the part of the booze that over time seeps through the wood and evaporates to the angels!

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1 minute ago, Denette said:

Really?  I had no idea shellac was food safe.  Is it any specific kind, or is there any special prep work?

Shellac is a natural product and at least some versions are definitely food safe. It has been used for coating pills in the past.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharmaceutical_glaze

 

Not sure how it would handle boiling water though, is it stable at that temperature? my guy says it will melt or be damaged. Can someone confirm? would be easy enough to test..

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The liner is a great idea but if I wanted an all wood mug I wouldn't coat it with anything. You have wooden spoons in your kitchen, right? They eventually have problems (especially with a dishwasher), but they aren't intended to last forever. Use a wood species that is non-porous, like maple.

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I have made mugs out of wood in the past. I use a scroll saw to make them.

In this case, I used plywood and coated the inside with marine, fiberglass epoxy and it worked OK for me....to hold beer anyway. :) I don't use it regularly, it was just an experiment  to see if I could do it and it worked.

 

IMG_0723.jpg

Most of the mugs, vases and bowls that I've made are just for the novelty and artistic look for display.

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If I just HAD to  have a wood coffee mug I'd just coat the outside with something waterproof and let the inside alone. If it cracks over time - and probably will - I'd just make another and use the first one as a pencil holder.

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Found this online.... " shellac starts to soften at about 150 degrees ".  So probably not the best option (unless you only drink iced coffee).

 

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You can get those travel mug liners to drop into turning projects.  There's a guy over on IAP (penturners.org) that does A LOT of them, says he usually sells a dozen or so each show he does.  He says he just goes to one of those company promotion sites and buys a couple dozen blank mugs at a time.  Bulk is cheaper.  But they're only like $7 each if you buy one (IIRC, the first one is free as a sample).  I'll see if I can find a link.   EDIT:  here ya goes https://www.discountmugs.com/product/st33-16-oz.-custom-insulated-tumblers/ He said they come apart fairly easily.

Stephen Ogle (on youtube) turned a wooden mug, used epoxy to seal it.  He then found out it wasn't food safe, and then found the food safe epoxy, and made a second video. 

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