Help me save my doomed Kuksa

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Feb 14, 2013
Right chaps and chapesses...

So I was given a nice log recently and decided to carve meself my first Kuksa despite not having a clue what I was doing. I got the blank done with an axe, started on the bowl, brought it home next day then did the sensible thing and had a read through the tinternet about all things Kuksa, so...

Having learned new and exciting stuff about sap wood, heart wood, pith and Kuksa splitting, I realised my Kuksa was most likely doomed way before ya can say crook knife Johnny. Mine contains pith, heartwood and sap wood. Now everything I've read suggests my Kuksa is no more than a heart break waiting to happen so I had a choice. Bin it or carry on regardless and learn from the experience, or rather learn even more than I already had.

So I carried on and it hadn't cracked, so I carried on and on. By now I was getting anxious so I kept surfing and reading and following any advice I could find, to try and delay the inevitable, and it still hasn't cracked....much. Luckily the cracks could be cut away so far.

By now I should point out I don't have a Scooby Doo what kinda wood it is. All I know is the heartwood was pinky red when very green and almost half the log was heart wood. As it dries the red becomes pinker.

It's nearly finished although still very green, around a week since felling and I'll do the rest when it's a lot dyer....

So the crux of the matter...How do I let it dry? Please bare in mind this is potentially the cracker of all cracking Kuksas so any and all suggestions are welcome to try saving it. Can the combined wisdom and experience of BCUK save this carving marvel...this product of someone who has to date only carved 3 spoons...someone who has a habit of doing things all back to front?? Can ya? Can we? Whadaya all think?


Bushcrafter through and through
May 11, 2007
Pontypool, Wales, Uk
Dry it slowly. You can dry any wood without splitting if you do it slowly enough. Stick it in a bag, keep it cool and dark.

And sometimes it splits anyway :dunno:

Two Socks

Jan 27, 2011
I keep mine in a cardboard shoebox covered in the chips and shavings i carve off. Using a plastic bag delays the drying more but you will have to be aware of mould forming then. Turning the bag inside out every other day should help with that. Most important is to keep it cool and out of sunlight

I hope it dries alright! It is a good kuksa :) well done.


Full Member
Jun 17, 2013
Monikie, Angus
I have tried oiling mine to slow down the drying process. Seems to work.

Last one I boiled in salty water and it dried quicker but when mouldy!

I often use a paper bag on it's side with the item in it. Scrunch up the opening slightly.


Feb 14, 2013
Okay doke...I've given it a bit of oil already as I read that should slow down the drying and I reckon it needs slowing down.
So in the dark and cool...what about in the fridge or is that toooo cool? I kept it in there in a plastic bag between carving sessions.

I have no where to put it outside so the coldest I have is the bedroom or fridge.

Thanks for the replies and comments me old Gurus. Any more for any more?

How long does it take to dry roughly or is that a how long is a piece of string question?


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 29, 2009
Lost in the forest
Nice looking Kuksa Dave mate for a first attempt I'd say very well done indeed.
I have made a few from burls and none have split, the cherry ones two of three split just a tad, cherry is very much like that.
I would seen you have done everything OK and the advice given ( place it in a plastic bag ) really is good,as it slows down the drying out process very well, I'd say keep the bag open a bit with some wood shavings in there as well an as cool as possible.

Keep up the good work mate.


A bemused & bewildered
Jan 5, 2013
SE Wales
Don't put it in a fridge! Fridges dry things out very quickly; use a paper bag on it's side with the opening nearly closed, and the shavings and chips you put with it can be dampened a bit...........

It certainly looks a good 'un!


Oct 23, 2013
Lost in South Carolina
Slow drying is the key. Put it in a plastic bag with a wetted towel to slow the loss of moisture from the wood. Check it daily, or every other day, to make sure the towel has moisture. Wood chips will do the same thing as a wetted towel, but with less predictability. Another way to really make a difference is to apply a coat of Boiled Linseed Oil to the outer surface. I generally thin my BLO considerable with alcohol or mineral spirits to help it penetrate the wood. The creates a waterproof barrier of sorts, forcing all the moisture to vacate through the interior of the bowl, and therefore slowing or preventing any checking.


Full Member
Jul 30, 2012
I know nothing of wood carving or drying, but surely some sort of drying device like a cigar humidor or something. Or a sealed container with a small ammount of dry matter that you can manage the humidity levels in. I had a nice cigar the other day.


Feb 14, 2013
So far I've given it a coat of Walnut oil, wrapped it in paper, put it all in a plastic bag and placed it a a drawer in the bedroom which is cool. Thanks for the tips guys. They're all pretty much what I've gleaned from other sources. Either I'll have a Kuksa at the end of it all or a plant pot. :D

I might have tried the washing up liquid thing if it hadn't been oiled first but it sounds like they're two ways of achieving the same result so I'll leave it .
Cheers Stew I hadn't heard that one before. I'm like a kid checking this thing every morning to see if the bottom's dropped out of it yet. :lmao:

I haven't used Walnut oil before so I'll use the for the final finish if it doesn't crack or maybe Danish oil if it's a plant pot.

So much information about this stuff online, often conflicting. It can become a bit of a mine filed. Some folk claim splitting a log will always crack which is why they are traditionally made from burl. I'm sure some of ya would disagree though as you're using your quite happily without splitting or cracking. Then there's those who claim they were traditionally used for scooping water from a well so not supposed to be used for hot liquids hence they crack. Plenty would disagree with that too.

I'm all good with it though. It's been a great learning experience whatever the result and I thoroughly enjoyed carving it. I'm big on activities which require the kind of focus and concentration which allows me to let go in a meditative sorta way. Meditation in the ''mindfulness'' way.

Anyone who is wondering what all the fuss is about regarding knives with a Scandi grind should consider carving a Kuksa, and all will be revealed. It becomes more than a knife. It becomes a precision carving tool with many qualities.

I'm off to check my Kuksa again. :lmao:


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 9, 2004
Rossendale, Lancashire
And if it does crack just clamp it until the cracks shut then squirt a little super thin super glue into the crack, let capillary action draw it in, let it cure and sand anything visible away. Worked for my bought job that was damaged in the post.

Super glue is nontoxic, I fact it was developed for surgical use back in the 60s.