What's the difference between a stein, a mug and
The word stein is a shortened form of Steinzeugkrug,
which is German for stoneware jug or tankard. In the U.S., stein
has come to mean just about any beer container — regardless
of its material or size — that has a hinged lid and a handle.
Tankard would be more technically correct than stein, but these two
words are used interchangeably. But some people reserve the word
tankard for the all-pewter (there's a section
for pewter vessels too) or all-silver varieties of steins.
A mug is universally used as the name for those
vessels that have handles but doesn't, and never did, have a lid.
So these should probably be considered mugs and/or tankards, but
How about the difference between a goblet and a
chalice? Both are bowl shaped vessels with a foot or pedestal and
no handle, but a chalice is generally considered the vessel used
in religious ceremonies.
I offer four different styles and two different
sizes of these wood mugs and tankards.
They are all hand made and I buy the lumber straight
from the mill. By hand picking each board at the mill I end up with
higher quality lumber. When possible, I use the same board to make
the entire tankard body. This results in a much closer grain pattern
(as seen in the pictures) without the wild (and sometimes pretty
ugly) variations you sometimes see in wood mugs.
The darkest wood
followed by oak and the lightest wood is maple.
When available, I use soft maple because the soft maple takes on
a slight "golden" hue when the finish is applied. <Back
Due to the varying thickness of the rings on these tankards, the size (height)
will vary some. When I plane the rough sawn lumber I get from the mill, I
only plane the boards to remove any imperfections. What I mean by this is
that I do not plane them to a certain thickness. I plane them for looks and
not size. A 1/16" variance can result in almost a half inch difference
in the overall height (7 rings at 1/16" each). I set, as a minimum,
the one pint to hold at least 16 oz. and the half pint to hold at least 8
ounces. But, the tankards you receive may hold slightly more than that as
a result of the thickness variance.
I really don't see the need to destroy perfectly
good wood just to get the sizes to be exactly the same from tankard
to tankard. These are hand made so expect each tankard to have a
little different 'personality' than it's brethren.
After numerous requests from customers, I added a new larger size tankard.
This size will easily hold about two 12 oz. beers (or two of whatever else
you drink that comes in 12 ounce sizes). The appearance is a little deceptive
because it really doesn't look that much bigger than the one pint size
but in reality it holds nearly twice as much.
This tankard is decidedly "manly".
So if you feel the need to "man up", then this is the
one for you. It's closer to a quart than a pint, which is more
in line with the sizes in use during the Renaissance era. <Back
One pint size:
Personally, I drink beer and know that when I buy beer at some of the faires,
the "serving wenches" can get pretty busy and they don't take a
lot of time pouring the beer. Hey, I paid for it and I don't like to see
it foaming over the edge of my tankard. Theoretically a 12 ounce mug would
work if they could take their time.... but they can't. So if you are a beer
drinker then I recommend the 1 pint tankard/mug. It will give you enough
room for a lot of 'head' on the beer without foaming over the edges. Plus
you can walk and talk without spilling your beer and you won't have to slurp
the foam off before you leave the bar.
The one pint tankard actually holds
about 17 ounces (thank you excel spreadsheet), but that is to the
very top of the rim. I know you're curious so I'll tell you... an
ounce of liquid is 1.804 cubic inches. Bottom line is that the one
pint tankard comfortably holds 16 ounces. <Back to
Half Pint size:
Now for the more refined people (I'm not included in this group) who drink
wine, I recommend the smaller half pint (8 ounces) size tankard. It holds
about 9 ounces. So you can walk along without spilling the wine.
For the really stout of heart, they serve mead at
some of the faires too. Mead is much stronger than a normal beer
so the half pint mug/tankard will work out great for mead too. So
you can walk without spilling the mead. If you drink much mead then
you know why this is important.
Oh yeah, you can also use the smaller
half pint size for a kids mug or tankard for their water of juice.
So if the kids want to be like Mom or Dad, then these are great.
<Back to top>
Other Sizes and Styles:
I can make these tankards in just about any size and from just about any wood.
If you have a desire for something larger, smaller, or with a different wood
or combination of woods, just let me know.
I will get back to you with the price and lead time.
How the tankards and mugs are made:
Each tankard is cut from a single board when possible.
Keep in mind that all trees do not necessarily
cooperate when it comes to this. Each tankard/mug
has three coats of exterior finish on it, so the
finish should last a lifetime. Now for those of
you concerned about 'foodsafe' finishes, to put
your mind at ease you can go here to
read all about modern foodsafe finishes. I use
a minimum of two coats of two part epoxy for the
interior coating to keep the vessel 'leak proof'.
When the interior finish has cured, it sets up
kinda like the exterior of the old fiberglass corvettes.
Which to those of you who are not Corvette buffs,
it means it sets up really hard with very good "tack
That's why I can guarantee them to never leak.
Again, if you are curious, or worried about the
finish used on these tankards, then by all means
I also have the Material Data Safety sheet for
both parts of the two part epoxy. The resin is
here and the hardener is
here. If you are the least bit paranoid or worried
about the finish, just put a note in the comments
section when you order requesting a 'food safe'
finish. I will then put a minimum of 2 coats of
a FDA food safe finish on the interior of the tankard.
You should know that it will take an extra 3
days to add the food safe interior coatings. You
can read the Material Data Safety Sheet on the
food safe interior coating here.
Personally I don't use the food safe finish on
the tankards I use but my wife has pointed out
that "not everyone is like you". Personally I think
it would be a much better world if that wasn't
the case.... but I digress.
I cut each ring separately on my lathe. After the
rings are cut, I sand them flat. Then comes the semi-artistic part
of the process. I set each ring so that it sits with the growth rings
going the opposite direction (vertically) of the ring below it. I
then set each ring offset by 90 degrees with the ring below it. This
combination of vertically opposite and 90 degree offset creates a
pattern similar to a herringbone (my wife's term, not mine) pattern.
An interesting thing about this combination is that as you rotate
the mug, the light rings turn darker and the dark rings turn lighter
every 90 degrees. The changing from dark to light is because the
wood is going from end grain to face grain every 90 degrees. It takes
more time to set the rings this way but the effect is pretty cool.
The rings are then glued and clamped together without
the bottom on the tankard. Once dry, this gives me unhindered access
to the inside of the tankard so I can sand the interior and be sure
the edges of the rings are sanded smooth with the other rings, using
a spindle sander.
Then I glue the bottom of the tankard
to the rings to complete the rough tankard.
At this point I put the entire assembly back on
the lathe to finish smoothing the exterior. Sometimes I have to use
a roughing gouge, sometimes a bowl gouge but most of the time I only
use sandpaper because I use a lot of care in the assembly of the
rings. I sand the exterior of the tankard and make sure the top lip
is made thinner (my wife's request). The sides start out at about
5/16" thick and end up somewhere around a quarter of an inch
thick. This thickness makes for a much stronger tankard and gives
the glue a lot more surface area to adhere to. The exception to this
is the large sized tankards. I actually make the walls of this size
thinner because visually it makes a better looking tankard (of course
that's just my opinion, but I'm the one who makes them). The sides
on the large tankard are about 1/8" thick, more or less.
At this stage I apply a minimum of two coats of
two part epoxy finish to the interior of the tankards over the course
of two days. If the interior shows any spots that are not glossy
after two coats, then I apply a third coat which takes another day.
I use foam brushes to apply the epoxy to help eliminate any brush
I then cut the handle using a bandsaw and sand it
smooth with a spindle sander and a belt sander. I freehand cut the
handles (which means I don't attempt to cut each handle exactly like
the others) then I use the spindle sander to knock off the handles
sharp edges. This gives the handle a more rustic look. If you look
at the pictures you will see that the handle color always looks a
little different than the tankard/mug body. The reason for this is
that you are looking at the 'face grain' on the side of the handle
and you are seeing some of the 'end grain' of the wood on the tankard/mug
The handle is then placed against a homemade sanding
disk made of wood that is the same diameter as the tankard and covered
with sandpaper. By holding the handle against this disk (attached
to my drill press) it makes the curvature in the handle where it
meets the tankard body closely match the curvature of the tankard.
Again, this makes for a much stronger joint since the surface areas
between the tankard body and handle match so closely. The handle
is then glued/epoxied and clamped to the body. After removing the
clamps if I see any hairline openings between the tankard body and
the handle, I fill it with CA glue (Superglue) just for a little
The type of glue I use to hold the actual rings
together is a heavy duty, weatherproof, waterproof, exterior glue.
I figure if this glue is designed to hold things together that are
left outside in the weather then there's probably not much you can
do to damage the tankards.
The last step before applying the exterior finish
is to close the hole in the bottom of the tankard that was used to
hold it to the lathe. Note that not all tankards require this step.
Some times when I'm feeling ambitious, I use my circle cutting jig
on my bandsaw to cut the bottom ring for the vessels. When I do that,
there is no hole to plug. To plug the holes, I use either half inch
dowel rods or hole plugs. If I use dowels, I glue the dowel into
the hole making sure it is flush with the top and bottom of the bottom
disk. If I use plugs, then I have to put one plug on the top (interior)
and one plug on the bottom. I really haven't decided if one way is
better than the other. The hole plugs show 'face grain' which more
closely matches the bottom ring grain and is more attractive in my
opinion, but I the dowels have more surface area for the glue to
adhere to. So bottom line is that your tankard may come with a plug
or an dowel or nothing at all. The majority of the time I tend to
use plugs because, overall, I think they just look better and are
If the tankard is made of maple, I sometimes leave
small knots in the tankards for a little extra character. The knots
are really dark and show up nicely against the really light maple.
If I have left any knots in, then I cover them with CA glue to be
sure they remain tight during the finishing process.
If I'm going to be applying the exterior finish
to the tankards the following day I use an air compressor to blow
off the tankard, inside and out.
Now it 's time for finishing. I only apply finishes
first thing in the morning. This is because the shop has had all
night for all the minute dust particles to settle. Which means a
better finish with fewer dust mote.
I use a 'tack cloth' to remove any remaining dust
the may still be attached to the unfinished exterior.
For the exterior, I use a minimum of three coats
of finish and apply them with a foam brush. After each coat has dried,
I lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper to remove any dust nibs that
have attached and then apply another coat of finish. After this coat
has dried for 24 hours, I do the same thing over again. I use a minimum
of three exterior coats, sometimes more. If after three coats, there
are any spots that aren't showing high gloss, it's because that part
of the wood has soaked up a lot more of the finish (most likely the
end grain portion of the wood) . If that happens, I add additional
finish coats until all spots are glossy.
Once the interior and exterior is finished then
I have to put a coat of epoxy on the bottom of the tankards to keep
them from absorbing any moisture they may come in contact with while
sitting on a wet table. I apply the finish to the bottom and then
wait 24 hours for it to set.
The last step. Once the last coat is dry and has
set for 24 hours, I fill the tankard/mug with water and let it stand
for at least 24 hours. After 24 hours with no leaks, it's time to
dry it and put it up for sale. This step is for my peace of mind.
I have never had a tankard leak and I have never been told of any
tankard that has leaked.
The finishing process alone, takes seven days. First
interior coat, wait 24 hours. Second interior coat, wait 24 hours.
Attach handle to tankard, wait 24 hours. Apply first exterior coat,
wait 24 hours. Apply second exterior coat, wait 24 hours. Apply third
exterior coat if necessary, wait 24 hours. Apply coating to bottom,
wait 24 hours. This seven days does not take into account the actual
cutting and gluing time either. All told it takes about 9 days to
make a tankard from start to finish. Please keep this in mind if
you want me to make you 'something special'. You can't rush mother
nature (or two part epoxy).
These mugs and tankards should last
a lifetime (see the guarantee section),
but there are a few caveats that should be adhered to. Common sense
is closer than caveat, but I kinda like the sound of caveat, (I hate
admitting I like anything French).
On a side
note, if you like drinking beer from wooden
tankards then you might like the idea of
beer too. That site is one of my others
and I tried to pretty much put everything
you want to know about how to make
your own beer there. Back
First, these are for cold beverages only. They are not designed for
hot beverages. The reason is that hot beverages cause the wood
to swell as it is heated and then it contracts when it cools. Over
time, this expansion and contraction weakens the joints. You don't
want a hot tankard of whatever your drinking to end up in you lap
or on your expensive renfaire garb so use these for cold beverages
OK I'll answer the burning question, if hot beverages
cause expansion and contraction and weaken the joints then why don't
cold beverages do the same thing? Good question. (Donning my professorial
hat now) Let's say your hot beverages start out at a piping hot 190
degrees and your cold beverages start out at a chilly 40 degrees.
Now we have to assume that the environment you live in (and the tankard
lives in) is around 80 degrees. So the cold beverage has a 40 degree
difference and the hot beverage has a 110 degree difference. So the
hot beverage will 'stress the joint' almost three times (2.75 actually)
more than the cold beverage. (Removing my professorial hat now).
Actually when I use mine for beer, the cold doesn't stay in my tankard
very long at all so by quickly drinking my beer I'm actually reducing
the stress on my tankard. Bonus.
Do not place these tankards in the freezer. They
are not 'freezer mugs'. For the reason for this, read the preceding
Next, these are not dishwasher safe. This goes hand
in hand with the above paragraph. If you put one of these in the
dishwasher and it goes through the heated dry cycle, you will end
up with a nice variety of wooden rings (possible new use as very
large napkin rings) .... but you will no longer have a tankard.
If you use the tankards/mugs for red wine then the
red wine should not be allowed to 'stand' in the container. The manufacturer
of the interior finish says that red wine can stain the epoxy so
it should be cleaned immediately after use.
Okay, it should go without saying that if these
are designed for cold beverages, then they shouldn't be put in a
microwave either. So unless you have some magical microwave that
actually cools your beverages (I actually use a refrigerator for
this) then do not put these in a microwave.
Do not use the mug or tankard if the interior finish
ever chips or cracks because this will allow the liquid to penetrate
to the wood. If this happens, the wood will swell and cause the ring
to separate (to my knowledge, this has never happened but I feel
I should mention it anyway). Return it to me and I'll fix it but
you have to pay the freight.
To clean, use warm (not hot) water, mild soap (no
abrasives) and a sponge. Do not immerse the mug or tankard in water.
If the tankard gets scratched and it
bothers you, you can use paste wax to remove (hide) small scratches
(on the exterior only), just don't apply it to the inside or top
edge (even though I have never personally tasted paste wax, my natural
instinct tells me paste wax would not be tasty). Back to top
We live in an extremely litigious society which makes it
necessary that I say this. I will not be responsible for damage of
any sort resulting from the use of these tankards.
If you should ever drop one of these tankards and the handle comes off (not
likely) you can return the tankard and the handle to me for repair or replacement,
at my choice. It's free but you have to pay the shipping. Or you can contact
me and I'll tell you how to do a home repair. A home repair won't be as strong,
but after you drop it and break it, you will naturally be more careful in
the future.... right?
If the mug or tankard ever leaks, you can return
it to me for a no charge repair or replacement, again, my choice.
The likelihood of a leak is remote (I do not know of a single tankard
that has ever leaked), but if you are one of those, yeah but "what
if" kind of people, then put your mind at ease.
Keep in mind that the pictures are of actual tankards
and mugs but each tree is different (kinda like people), so each
mug is different too. The pictures are close, but mother nature makes
If after all of this, I still have
not answered your question, then by all means contact
me. I try to answer all questions within 24 hours but sometimes
life gets in the way. Back to top