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Wood Carving for Beginners

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  #1  
Old 02-14-2010, 04:28 PM
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Default Beer Mug Project

Hi all,

I'm thinking of making a wooden mug for beer (that I will actually use :-P). I'm pretty new to carving and what little experience I have is limited to carving basswood, so I would appreciate some input as I haven't found much information on what I'm planning to do.

First question, what wood would be best (and probably more importantly safe) to use? My two choices at the moment are either mahogany or maple (I live in an apartment, so due to noise pretty much limited to hand tools). Anything else I can use that wouldn't be too difficult to cut?

The second question is about the finish: would I just use oil on the mug once I'm done or something like epoxy? The answers I found with Google are pretty diverse...

Also kind of an unrelated question, perhaps someone living in Massachusetts knows a lumber yard or something with a variety of woods? Online sources would also be welcome. I'm all set with basswood, but everything else seems pretty hard to find.

Thanks!
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:11 PM
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Default Re: Beer Mug Project

I would use maple it will hold liquid DONT USE EPOXY that stuff is toxic just keep the wood natural.
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Old 02-14-2010, 08:50 PM
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Default Re: Beer Mug Project

I'll 2nd the maple. No advice on a finish though.

Just don't ever use red oak if you want the liquid to stay contained.
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Old 02-14-2010, 09:03 PM
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Default Re: Beer Mug Project

Maple for sure as for a finish....I would use vegetable oil for the outside or olive oil...it will seal the wood and not be dangerous....
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Old 02-15-2010, 10:03 AM
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Default Re: Beer Mug Project

One of the better places I've found for lumber, in Mass, is Downes & Reader Hardwood. They are in Stoughton and carry lots of varieties in lots of thicknesses. Their website is Downes & Reader Hardwood Co., Inc.
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Old 02-15-2010, 11:55 AM
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Default Re: Beer Mug Project

A lot of carvers use mineral oil to seal wood used for eating or drinking. It's cheap and acquired easily from any pharmacy. It won't go rancid either, like many oils.

Another alternative is to coat with beeswax. It goes on easily when melted, and seals very well. It looks real pretty too.
Christina
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:35 PM
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Default Re: Beer Mug Project

Maple would also be my guess. Be carful with mineral oil as it also used as a laxative, that's what it says on the bottle anyway.

Dave
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:44 PM
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Default Re: Beer Mug Project

I'd suggest using the maple rather than the mahogany. My experience with mahogany so far is that, although it's beautiful, it's somewhat difficult to carve. Not so much because it's hard (although it is), but rather because the wood tends to be inconsistent and you end up with tearing and splintering if you're not extremely careful.

You have a few choices for finish. I like the "keep it raw" approach mentioned above, but I wonder if that would encourage the growth of mold and bacteria in the wood. Many spoon carvers use a combination of oil (lots of different types) and beeswax to good effect. There is some debate about using edible oils (olive or vegetable oil), because those could (?) go rancid if you don't use the cup and wash it regularly. Another option is salad bowl finish.

Whatever finish you decide on, be sure to always hand-wash your mug using hot water only. Don't put your wooden mug into the dishwasher. Don't use soap because the wood can absorb the soap. It's possible that a beeswax coating could prevent the soap absorption, and the salad bowl finish almost certainly would. But why risk soapy beer when hot water will clean things just fine? I never use soap on my brewing equipment, and it's been nice and clean for over 10 years of regular use. (I do, however, use sanitizing agents, but that's something else entirely.)
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:53 PM
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Default Re: Beer Mug Project

Dave

I wouldn't worry too much about the laxative effect of mineral oil. Recommended dosage is half an ounce or more, so it's unlikely that the small amount that might come into contact with the beer will have any effect.

And, contrary to what others have posted about mineral oil being toxic, all the information I've been able to find indicates that it's benign when ingested, especially in the very small quantities that you'd encounter when using it as a finish on a carving. It's potentially harmful when aspirated, but then so is water.
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Old 02-15-2010, 11:42 PM
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Default Re: Beer Mug Project

Thanks for all the replies, very helpful. And thanks Braintree, I'm bookmarking that site for sure.
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