lauantai 16. toukokuuta 2015


Copyrights by Ilkka Seikku

Kuksa is a Finnish word for burl cup. It´s very popular among outdoor men and women. Hikers, hunters, bushcrafters etc. use kuksa always in outdoors. Many people in Finland have kuksa in everyday use still in nowdays. I think everyone in Finland knows what kuksa is.

Making kuksa is not very hard task at all. You only need some simple tools, like puukko, kovelo(kind of crooked knife). Kuksa can be done also with little pliers or use fire to make it.

Most of the kuksas selling in the outdoor stores are just wood cups. Those are shaped with saw and belt sander and hollowed with so called kuksa-drill. Usually made from birch burl or goat willows root burl. Sometimes they are made from just from normal birch plank.. 
Burl gives not only nice outlook for kuksa, but also better quality than just making it from a plank.
The very best kuksas are made from burl where it´s possible to let the outer surface so, that only the bark is removed and not touched the wood at all. Those are unbreakable.
It´s just quite difficult to find that kind of burl, because burls usually have shapes which are not suitable for kuksa and very often there are little holes inside the burl. That can be very frustrating..; after you have almost finished the hollowing, you notice that there is hole in your kuksa..

Finding The Perfect Burl is kuksa makers life time job. 
Sometimes you get lucky and find nice burls. 

It´s easy to make kuksa with power tools, but I wan´t to keep up the traditional ways.
So I´ll not give now info about how to start your band saw or belt sander..

One way to make kuksa is to find large burl and saw blank for a kuksa. Then shape the forms with puukko or axe and start to hollow the interior with kovelo.
Hollowing can be done by burning if the burl is totally dry. One and I think the nicest way is to use little pliers and hollow the kuksa by dragging fibres out.

Here are few instuctions about how I make kuksa´s.

Kuksa with kovelo

This is kuksa made from birch burl. If the burl have good shapes, it´s best to let the outer side like it is. So no carvings from outside at all. That give the kuksa a great toughness. 

Shape needs to be checked from every angel.

Starting to hollow kuksa with kovelo. Kovelo is like a puukko with twisted blade.

After hollowing the edges might need a little finishing with puukko.

The part I carved the handle "korva"(ear), was quite thin in this burl. So I make it tougher by attaching moose antler on top. 

Then drilling a hole in the middle of korva and shaping it a bit.

Sandpaper is not needed if the kovelo is sharp enough. Sharp blade always leaves no need for sanding. And here the outside is just like this burl has grown, only the bark has removed.

Every kuksa made like this, is totally unique and it somehow nice to think that you have made it together with nature.

This kuksa is made in similar way, but shaped just a little bit from the outerside. Also the korva is different.

Also this is made in same way. Kuksas like these are always made in the way the burl shows. Always different shapes and also the material is different in every burl. Fibers goes in different way etc.
So every burl kuksa is a new challenge and teaches you more.

Burned kuksa

Man has use fire to shape the wood and to make things from it long before there were steel.
So this is really a stone age technique. And it still works exactly in the same way as it did in stone age. Fire is still similar =)
First you need to make a little pit and put amber on it. Start to blow it so that the wood starts to glow.
Using hollow pipe from some plant available and you can better burn the material where you want to.

With right technique it´s possible to hollow the interior almost perfectly. Kuksa need to be wider from the inside than from the mouth.

No remove burned part away with kovelo or just with a taough and sharpened stick.

Shape the mouth.

With axe or puukko, shape the outside roughly. I like to use BushProwler here.

And now just whittle the outer side and carve the korva.

I think it´s very nice looking to let the surface like it is after whittling.
I suggest to oil this kind of kuksa with linseed oil for example. One very good way is to fill the kuksa with wet coffee powder and let it stay in warm place few days.

Carving some decorations on the korva, gives unique touch.
In this kuksa there is korva with two holes.

Old wise man with young doe

And remember that kuksa get´s all the time better if You use it a lot. 

Kuksa from fresh blur

I think this is the nicest way to make kuksa.
If you find a burl which is suitable for this kind of working, start to work it immediately after you have remove it from the tree.

Fresh material is easy to work.

First take the bark away. Bark is easy to remove from a fresh burl.

With pliers, start to remove material from the inside. Wood fibres are ripped out with pliers. Also it´s possible to use knife.

It´s very nice and relaxing to hollow the burl like this in woods. 

It´s almost sad, when you notice that there are no more material to remove..

Giving some shapes to the mouth of kuksa

Korva can be made just with a puukko. No drilling machines are needed..

This is kuksa that last´s for a many lifetimes. No need for oil or any other preservatives at all. Just take it with you and start to drink coffee or what ever you like.

2 kommenttia:

  1. Ow brother,
    that is some eyecandy there!
    Very nice kuksas and a very good written account how to make them.
    I enjoyed it pretty much.
    I have some juniper seasoning since last year and I hope to give this a go coming autumn/winter.

    Thanks for the lessons!

  2. Very awesome descriptions, thanks! Just about to get working on an awesome burl that we found. Unfortunately none of the pictures in this post are showing anymore. Could it be possible to get them back on? :)