Sometimes you just need to make a quick project to clear your head. In this case I thought I would make a very quick project while some other projects were curing or glue was setting. For this I wanted to try out the Rockler Travel Mug kit. This kit has the insert to make a travel mug on your lathe. To be honest there is not much as far as hardware to the kit. Just the insert and instructions mainly.
Though the it doesn’t come with a ton of hardware it is all you need to make this travel mug along with whatever you will be turning the shell out of. For this I decided to use this piece of wood that I honestly do not know the species of but it looked cool with a whole bunch of holes and voids that I thought would look great filled with epoxy.
I started by using the jointer to flatten the sides of the wood before using the miter-saw to cut the wood to length. Remember to keep in mind that you need to allow extra material for use while turning on the lathe.
Now it is time to build the mold I started by cutting some pieces of Lexan for two of the wall of the mold. This is not necessary so anything like melamine or plywood with release tape can be used. I mainly wanted to use Lexan for a better view of the epoxy as it was being poured into the mold. Using the Table Saw I cut the pieces to size. Then used the miter-saw to cut them to length.
I then started to assemble the mold. There was no need for nails or screws for this process. I started by attaching the wood to one side of the Lexan using hot glue. While doing this I had to keep in mind any open areas or voids. Making sure to completely cover any open voids that might cause to much epoxy to get between the walls of the mold and the wood. I wanted to avoid this to make sure this did not cause any issues between the bond of the Lexan and the wood. Do not be afraid to use a lot of glue. It is much better to use what might seem like overkill in glue than to use to little and have leaks occur.
Once the mold was built I mixed up the epoxy I used Total Boat slow hardening epoxy to try to keep the heat down in the mold. I this is a 2 to 1 ratio mix witch means mixing two parts of resin to one part hardener. In the containers I was using it is only possible to mix about 30 ounces of epoxy total at a time. For this particular mold I would need more than that but thanks to the long working time of the Total Boat epoxy I was easily able to mix up more to fill the mold completely. For color I went with a bright green color I thought this would look good with the color of the wood.
Now the fun part pouring the epoxy. While this would seem and is for the most part pretty straight forward there are a couple of tricks that can be done to help the epoxy turn out even better. First to to slowly pour the epoxy. This will give the epoxy to push the air out of any pockets it enters as it flows into all of the voids. If the epxoy is poured to fast it will push large air pockets in the tops of the voids an trap them. While adding pressure in a pressure chamber will get rid of most of the air bubbles It cannot remove extremely large air pockets. Along with pouring slowly into the mold you can also apply heat using a small torch to help to pop any air bubbles forced into the epoxy as it was being mixed. The heat from the torch will pop the small bubbles as you pour the epoxy reducing the over all amount of bubbles in the mold. Also if with all of the voids within the wood I made sure to fill the mold with epoxy that was above the level of the wood as once pressure is added the epoxy will be pushed into the voids and the over all level of the epoxy in the mold will slightly decrease.
Once the mold is filled with epoxy it need to placed inside a pressure chamber and allowed to completely cure. If you release the pressure before the epoxy is completely hard the air bubbles and voids and expand and cause pockets withing the epoxy. Depending on the thickness of the epoxy and the type of epoxy you use this will be differing amounts of time. Refer to the information on your epoxy to determine how long you need to let the epoxy cure.
When the epoxy was fully cued I then needed to remove the mold. Usually I coat the inside of the mold with packing tape to ensure an easy release from the mold but honestly this time I forgot. Yes I know what your thinking not me but it happens. With this particular mold it didn’t matter as much as I would be cutting off and turning down the outer layers regardless. Using a chisel the Lexan breaks away easily. The plywood was then cut away using the Band Saw .
I then marked the center of the blank and after mounting the blank onto the Lathe I then used the Dewalt Reciprocating Saw to cut away the corners of the blank to make for rounding over the blank easier. Then I proceeded with the rough turning of the blank into a semi shaped cylinder.
Once the cylinder was to its rough shape I needed to size the rim of the shell to fit within the lip of the mug insert. The Rockler instructions contain the measurements needed for this process. After sizing the outer diameter of the rim I then bored the hole that would house the mug insert.
The Rockler instructions call for a 2 7\8 inch Forstner Bit to be used to bore the inner hole of the shell. I however did not have a forstener bit that large so I used a 2 in forstner bit to bore the initial hole and then cut out the rest of the opening by hand. This did work but makes for a whole lot more work to complete the process.
I then flip the shell over on the lathe to complete the final turning and sanding. I wanted to shell to have a unique look and shape different from most mugs. I then shaped the shell to a bit of a budge and curved shape. After shaping the shell I then sanded it starting with 120 grit sand paper and working my way up to 400 grit.
I then finished the shell using Starbond Adhesives Ca glue . After applying multiple layers of CA to the shell I then used micro mesh to sand the CA to a smooth finish and then used Some eee-ultra shine wax to polish the CA finish.
To install the insert I mixed up a small amount of epoxy and spread it within the interior of the shell. And then using a wood block tapped the insert into place making sure it is fully seated around the rim of the shell. Then simply let the epoxy cure permanently fixing the insert into place.
I really like how this mug came out and the pattern of the crazy wood that was used. I would not however suggest placing the mug into the dishwasher as it is sealed and liquid should have minimal effects on the wood shell but I would not risk it. This would make for an awesome present and is a project that without using epoxy would only take a couple of hours in total to complete.
I hope you guys have enjoyed this process. Make sure you Subscribe on YouTube and follow me on Instagram @jpaynewoodworking for more videos and pictures. Also make sure to sign up to the newsletter for notifications on articles, plans, videos and more.
If you would like to make one of these travel mugs yourself check out Rockler.com where you can find and purchase the kit and for some of the tools used during this process feel free to click the links within the article.
Thank you for reading and I will see you on the next one.