Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kuksa-Turning a small wooden cup on a lathe-Discussion and Plans

Hi Everyone,

I've been trying to produce a kuksa for sometime now. Kuksas are small, hand carved, wooden cups that are common on the Internet and have probably been produced by people who lived in forests for thousands of years and if you google the word you'll see lots of photographs of them.

I've wanted to make one and the first several attempts I made were produced by carving them but having arthritic hands meant that I never could quite hollow the cup. That and the general results not being very appealing meant that they've all wound up in the trash.

Discussion & Plans

I have quite a bit of linden wood in the shop at the moment and I had a large left over chunk from several bowls I've turned the past several days. I didn't want to throw the chunk away so I decided to try to turn and hand carve a kuksa out of it. The outside of the cut will be roughly turned and then refined by carving and the inside will be totally hollowed by turning. And the kuksa will have a single handle similar to the handles on the porringer I did earlier this week.

Let's take a look at the photos thus far:

This is the blank that I began with. I've bandsawed it out of a chunk of linden wood and you can clearly see the handle area sticking out from the side:

And this is what it looks like on the lathe:

I placed it between centers and turned it very slowly at first-200 rpm and began roughing off the side and the bottom. Needles to say the piece is unbalanced so it is going to be turned slowly for a while:

Here is a photo of the bottom. I've trued up the bottom and cut a mortise so I can flip it over and attach it to the lathe. Time to turn it over and work on the rim a bit:

Here it is before I began to turn the rim/top of the cup:

 Here is the top of the cup after about 15 minutes of very careful, slow turning. I cut from the outside rim towards the inside. This helps to keep the blank on the lathe. Turing from the inside towards the outside can cause the blank to dislodge and come off. The top of the piece is flatter now:

I turned the cup over, locked the lathe in place, and began to do some roughing out of the exterior of the cut by hand. I use a 2" carpenter's chisel to take off the uneaven, unturned sections of the cup:

I also used a drawknife:

This is the cup so far. I also sawed the handle area a little bit and I've created a groove along the bottom. Eventually I'm going to cut off the bottom and round it some to make it easier to hold in the hand. I also don't want to make the cut too deep, just enough for a quick cup of water. After this point it was time to flip it over again and begin hollowing it out. All of the work on the exterior from this point is going to be done by hand. This saved me a lot of hand work:

Time to begin hollowing. I hollowed it out about 1mm at a time, from the outside towards the inside of the cup:

Here is the interior after about 5 minutes of slow cutting. It's about 1" deep:

Here you can see I've drilled a hole into the bottom of the inside of the cup. I did this to help establish the depth of the piece and to make turning the center of the interior a little easier:

And here is the cut fully cut out. It's about 2" deep at this point:

Now, next time, I'll refine the rim and make it narrower for drinking, and I will probably turn the exterior of the cup a little narrower so as to make it fit in my hand a little easier. Then I'll carve out the handle and lastly smooth the exterior by hand.

Stay tuned,

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