How to Carve a Traditional Laplander Kuksa Cup

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The Kuksa cup, made from birch burl, is the traditional Laplander drinking cup.

A Kuksa Cup is a part of traditional Laplander culture and is a very useful and functional tool for anyone that spends a lot of time in the out of doors. I couldn't find a record of when the Kuksa became a part of Laplander culture but it's been used for thousands of years and is still widely used today. Kuksa cups come in all sizes, shapes and designs. Because they are each hand carved by their owner there is as many different cups as their are those who use them. Each cup has it own individuality.

The life style of the nomadic Laplanders makes the Kuksa cup an indispensable tool for the men who spend most of their time outdoors with their Reindeer (Caribou) herds or hunting and fishing for their families.The traditional Kuksa Cup is hand carved from Birch wood Burl and carried on the belt by a leather thong. It's used for either hot or cold beverages or foods and, if carved and cured correctly, will last the life time of it's maker.

The Kuksa Cup that I carved several years ago, after reading an article about "How to carve a kuksa cup" and it's history, took about a week to complete. My version is not perfect, by any means, and has some significant design flaws. The way I carved the handle makes it difficult to hold and drink from the cup. But, other than that, it works great and I take it along on every trip that I make into the outdoors. I plan to carve a new Kuksa as soon as I find a good burl.

So, what is a burl? Burl is an abnormal growth found on some types of trees. The growth is caused by some kind of stress to the tree such as an injury, drought or insect damage. Due to it's shape and growth, burl has a very tight grain which makes it an extremely hard wood with beautiful colors and unusual grain patterns. Burl is highly sought after for it's rarity and exotic characteristics by furniture makers and wood crafters around the world.

On the trail a kuksa is light to carry and can be used for any type of beverage hot or cold. You can use it for tea, your morning coffee or even for a shot of whiskey while sitting around the night fire. All you need to do is rinse it with water after each use.

May 1, 2011 Here's my latest cup carving. I carved this cup from a poplar log that had blown down in a storm. The cup is made using chisels and sandpaper.

I started by carving the bowl of the cup first and

then carved and shaped the handle. It took me 4 days to carve, sand and finish this cup.

A few other carving that I've been working on. I carved and shaped a burl that I found in the woods near my home.


Posted on Sep 11, 2010
Johnny Dod
Posted on Apr 17, 2010