Cup and Cover


Cup and Cover:
Andy Coates’ contemporary take on a cup and cover – making a usable drinking vessel with a twist.

Andy Coates’ contemporary take on a cup and cover – making a usable drinking vessel with a twist

A recent article reminded me of an object that was common many years ago – the cup and cover. A cup and cover is exactly what it sounds like – a drinking cup with a lid. A nice simple object that can be as plain, decorative or intricate as you wish providing it satisfies its primary purpose, which is to hold liquid to drink.
Such vessels served at least two purposes, other than to drink from; the cover protected the drink from becoming contaminated with dust, etc. and it could also serve to insulate a warm beverage. Both perfectly sound functions, even if the former is less of an issue in the 21st century than it might have been when ceilings were not quite as refined as they are today. A cup and cover would, however, be an ideal project if you spend any amount of time outdoors, camping, hiking or attending open-air events where a picnic is the order of the day. You might want to choose a slightly less decorative approach than I do here, but the process is otherwise the same.
One thing to keep in mind is that the cover should not fit like a box lid. It ought to be a very slack fit to enable easy and unhindered removal. This is not a travel cup where the lid seals the vessel to prevent spillage; this is a drinking vessel with a loose cover.

Plans and equipment
• 10mm long-ground bowl gouge
• 10mm spindle gouge
• 10mm parting and beading tool
• 2mm parting tool
• Multi-head half-round bar scraper
• Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) block – 100 x 100 x 200mm
• Abrasives 180–600 grits
• Cellulose sealer
• Melamine lacquer
• Acrylic paints
• PPE: facemask, gloves, dust mask/respirator

Drawings and how to resize them
To enlarge or reduce the size of drawings right click on the image to download it and then go HERE to watch a video on how to use paper with a grid to do exactly that.

1. Mount the block between centres and rough down to a cylinder using a long ground bowl gouge or a spindle roughing gouge. Clean up the end of the blank using a 10mm parting and beading tool in preparation for turning a mounting tenon

2. Prior to initial mounting, the blank was assessed to decide which end would be the base. This end is always put at the tailstock to make turning the tenon easier. However, after initial roughing down some nice figure was revealed, which would look better in the cup of the vessel

3. Rather than reverse the blank, turn the tenon at the headstock end. Providing care is taken this need not be a problem. While it does result in a larger than usual stub at the centre, this is easily taken up inside the four jaw chuck. Turn the tenon to suit your chuck

4. Mount the blank in the scroll chuck. True up the blank again if required. Mark the blank with a pencil at 50mm and 130mm down the blank. Using the long ground bowl gouge, begin to shape the cup section, working down approximately two thirds of the depth of the cup

5. Now set the toolrest to the end face of the blank, and use the bowl gouge to begin to hollow the cup. Aim for a 5mm wall thickness at the rim and work down to form a hemispherical interior. Aim for a final depth of 50mm

6. The interior needs to have a fine finish, so take a round-nosed scraper and refine the surface taking light cuts with a freshly honed scraper. A half-round bar-type scraper can be easier to manipulate and control than a flat bar scraper. Work until the surface is flat and tear free

7. Before moving on, abrade the interior of the cup. A rotary arbor can help to achieve an even, unscratched finish. Work from an abrasive grade appropriate for your tooling technique and work down to 600 grit to provide a silky finish to the interior surface

8. The cup needs to be waterproof, so use a melmine lacquer to finish. Cellulose sealer can be used prior to applying the melamine, or you can just use melamine lacquer. If you do, use just melamine, then two or three coats as the first will serve as a sealer and the subsequent coats will provide the waterproofing. Full curing takes approximately seven days

9. Re-site the toolrest to the side of the blank and continue shaping the exterior of the cup section. Remove the waste to the left of the bowl to provide the space required to work the finished surface, without fouling the tool. Remember to follow the interior shape and wall thickness

10. When the outer wall of the cup gets to a depth of 50mm leave a step. Start to roughly shape the stem of the vessel working from the 130mm mark towards the base of the cup. Abrade the outer wall of the  cup to a 600 grit finish and apply a melamine finish as for the inside surface

11. Complete turning the stem of the vessel. The technique here is the same as for a cove in spindle turning. Work from each outer edge towards the smallest diameter and blend the two sides together at the bottom of the cut. Abrade to a 240 grit finish

12. Using a 10mm parting tool, cut a flat face on the edge of the foot making sure there is a 6mm width. Make the diameter of the foot the same as the diameter of the rim of the cup, approximately 90mm. Abrade the edge face to 240 grit. Using a 2mm parting tool make an initial parting cut to a depth of approximately 5mm. This cut should be flat, at 90° to the bed of the lathe. Widen the cut to the left to provide room for the next step

13. Now, return to the initial parting cut. Begin the cut with the parting tool at approximately 45° to the lathe bed and work slowly in. You may need to increase the width of the cut to the left to allow the tool to work unhindered. This cut is more difficult than a conventional straight in parting cut, so take care and go slowly

14. Work as far down as you feel comfortable doing so. Cut off the stub with a fine saw if you prefer. Once the vessel is parted from the waste block, true up the surface of the waste block using the bowl gouge

15. Measure the diameter of the outer rim of the cup and transfer this dimension to the face of the waste block. Using a 10mm parting tool, cut a recess 8mm deep. Make the cut slightly dovetailed with the lesser diameter at the base, this will allow adjustment if required

16. Test fit the cup into the recess. It should be a tight fit. If adjustments are required then take very light cuts and re-try the fit after each adjustment. When these are complete, the rim of the cup should sit on the base of the recess to ensure the vessel in true. A light tap with a soft mallet may help, but take care

17. Secure the vessel to the waste block with masking tape, ensuring the vessel is solidly held. Now re-site the toolrest to the end of the vessel and taking very light cuts with a 10mm spindle gouge turn a cone 20mm deep on the interior of the base. Make the wall thickness about 5–6mm. Clean up the surface of the waste block (now the cover) until it is flat. Measure the interior diameter of the cup and transfer this dimension to the waste block. Using the 10mm parting tool cut a tapered tenon 6mm deep to this mark, testing the cup for fit frequently as you work. Aim for a loose fit

18. Once the tenon is completed turn a slight concave on the face, leaving a 5–6mm flat area around the edge. Soften the outer edge to prevent damaging the interior sof the cup in use. Use a scraper to ensure a fine finished surface

19. Abrade the tenon and concave face to a 600 grit finish and apply a melamine finish as for the cup of the vessel

20. Mount scrap wood in the scroll chuck and clean the face and edges. Measure the tenon on the cover and transfer this dimension to the waste block. Using the 10mm parting tool, cut a recess to take the cover tenon. The fit should be tight, but should not damage the tenon

21. Shape the top of the cover using a 10mm spindle gouge, taking light cuts. Leave a 28–30mm stub in the centre and create a rising cove to it from the surface of the cover. Slightly hollow the central stub to a depth of about 10mm. Abrade to 600 grit and apply melamine

22. Draw some roots at the base of the stem, making sure they end before the top of the inner cone. Using a dremel-type tool, with a burr or rotary cutter, cut the waste away. Do the same for the central stem on the top of the cover. You are aiming for a stylised tree form overall. At the underside of the cup, where the step was left, mark and cut away some small sections to represent boughs and branches

23. Use a file or abrasive to blend over the edges of all the cut sections, paying particular attention to the areas under the cup where the ‘branches’ meet the cup. Take your time to ensure the finish will be as good as the remainder of the cup

24. Using a high power pyrography machine burn lines to represent bark over the whole stem area and the central section on the top of the cover. Simple strokes are all that is needed, with some deeper lines to give the look of fissures and bark features. Burn quite deeply to provide texture. Finish by painting with an appropriate acrylic colour. The painted area can be sealed or oiled once dry


Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.