How to Make Gourd Canteens


Dried gourds have been used to make many different items, from birdhouses to canteens. Native Americans, early American settlers and even present-day societies utilize gourds for carrying water, as well as for storing and serving food. The key to making gourd canteens is selecting a gourd with a thick exterior, so your canteen will be durable and won't leak. You can make your own gourd canteen and waterproof it with these simple steps. Birdhouse gourds are best for making canteens, due to their larger size and elongated "necks" that make for easy handling.

Step 1

Set the birdhouse gourd in a dry place until the gourd feels light and the seeds rattle inside when you shake it. Soak the gourd in warm water for 30 minutes, and then scrape away the mold and outer skin with a sharp knife.

Step 2

Rub the exterior of the gourd with a fine-textured steel wool and allow it to dry. Smooth the outside of the gourd with medium-grain sandpaper after it's dried completely.

Step 3

Trace the outline of the cork's smaller end on the top of the gourd. Cut a hole into the top of the gourd, following the traced outline, using a sharp knife or hole saw.

Step 4

Scrape out all the spongy fibers inside of the gourd using a long, thin spoon and a wide-bladed knife. Continue to scrape the inside until you've removed as much as you can of the fibrous pulp.

Step 5

Place a handful of sharp, small pebbles into the gourd. Shake pebbles inside the gourd until the interior is smooth and polished.

Step 6

Wrap a 3-inch-wide piece of medium-grain sandpaper around the cork and twist the cork into the hole in the top of the gourd. Twist the cork and sand the opening until it's smooth and the cork fits tightly into the hole.

Step 7

Place the gourd into a preheated oven set on warm or 150 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat 2 to 3 cups of beeswax or paraffin wax in a double boiler until it melts.

Step 8

Remove the gourd from the oven and pour the melted wax into the hole in the top of the gourd. Swish the wax around in the gourd to coat the inside completely. Repeat if necessary until the inside of the gourd is evenly coated.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be very careful when you're handling and pouring the melted wax because it will be hot and can burn your skin easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Birdhouse gourd
  • Sharp knife
  • Steel wool
  • Sandpaper
  • Cork, 1-inch diameter
  • Pencil
  • Hole saw
  • Long, thin spoon
  • Wide-blade knife
  • Sharp, small pebbles
  • Beeswax or paraffin wax
  • Double boiler


  • The Northwest Territory Alliance: Gourd Canteens

Who Can Help

  • The American Gourd Society
  • Mother Earth News: Gourds: An Excellent "Fun and Profit" Crop
Keywords: make gourd canteens, gourd canteen instructions, making gourd crafts

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.