Handmade Kuksa

I decided to make myself a kuksa. So, last weekend, I went out and found myself a piece of birch and gave it a whirl.

Having split a log in two I then drew the shape of the bowl and handle onto the wood and started sawing. Once the bulk of it was off I then moved on to using a knife (I used a Mora Clipper). When it was roughed out I started carving out the bowl. I originally intended to do this over two or three sessions, since I thought it would be more work than it was. However, since I was using green wood it didn’t prove to be the mammoth task I thought it would be. That said, my thumb and forefinger were red raw and knackered by the end of it. Here’sa piccy of it at this stage:

I decided not to do more work than this since I knew there was a chance it could split whilst drying. So that’s what I did next – leave it to dry. I left it on the windowsill, in an open carrier bag for week, to help modulate the drying process. After a week it was nice and dry, NO CRACKS!, so it was time to smooth and sand it. I got the worst lumps and bumps off with a knife. And then out with the Dremel and sanding discs.

Once that was done it was time to oil it. I put the kuksa (plus a few spoons I’d done) into a tub and then poured warmed linseed oil over it. It was left like this for a several hours.

After leaving it to soak for a while I took it out and wiped off the excess oil. Then I left it out to dry for a couple of days, added a leather thong and that was it!

It’s still to be christened. Traditionally they are filled with whiskey (which also helps to stain and add character to the wood), which is then gulped down.

Before I started I was quite intimidated by the idea of making a kuksa. But it proved to be little more than a big spoon. Scooping out that bowl didn’t take as much time as I thought, but it did leave my fingers very sore. The birch is great wood to work with. It has a great ring to it when tapped and feels almost shell-like.

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