Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Safely Finishing Wooden Bowls and Spoons

I often get asked this question..." What should I use to finish wooden bowls, cutting board and utensils? Before I tell you what to use, let me tell you what you shouldn't.

1.) Varnish, Polyurethane, and Lacquer. Stay away from all of these. These types of finishes often contain solvents that just plain are not good for you. They will also scratch easily when using knives and forks on them. The finish that gets scratched off has to go somewhere and you are probably better off if it doesn't end up in your salad, or as seasoning for your steak.

2.) Tung Oils. Tung Oil is used fairly often for bowls and spoons, but I recommend staying away from Tung Oils as well. Here's why...Although true tung oil is considered a natural product, it is actually derived from a nut bearing tree. Some people are very allergic to nuts, especially children. So, why risk it?

3.) Shellac. I am a huge fan of shellac, but not for finishing wooden food related items because shellac is very soft and does not hold up very well. I don't like having to get out my shellac brush after every meal. The good news about shellac is that is is pretty safe if ingested. Shellac is sometimes even used to coat candy with in order to make it shiny.

4.) Mayonnaise, Cooking Oils. Here is the thing about using food products. Food can spoil and cooking oil can turn rancid. Don't use food products.

Here is what I use for putting a finish on a cutting board, wooden spoon, or wooden bowl. It's called "mineral oil". It is non toxic enough that it is often sold in drug stores as a laxative. I do not know of anyone who has had an allergic reaction to it. It wipes on easily, and can be reapplied whenever you feel the need. It will also not darken the wood like other oils will. A little goes a long way. I can generally finish 20 spoons with a pint of it. Mineral oil also has one more thing going for it too. It's really cheap. The bottle shown is under $3.00 in my online store.


ClassyChassy said...

I remember having this very conversation in an email with you....! And what a great idea for a new blog - and a nice way to get business for your online store!

Rory said...

Hi Monica, Thank you for stopping by. Nice to see you. This should be a pretty fun site. I learned a little bit from The Greentiques Solution and made some changes in setting up the online store. It should be really easy to browse now. Hope you come back soon. Rory

Sarah @ Sugar Bananas! said...

Thanks for the great info. The breakdown of each product is very helpful.

Rory said...

Hi Sarah,

You are very welcome. Glad you made it by. Thank you for becoming a follower. Rory

Barbara Jean said...

interesting post.
Look forward to other great advice.

Thanks for signing up to follow at my place.


barbara jean

Lori said...

Hi Rory,
Thanks for stopping by and letting me know about your new blog!!! I know I'm going to enjoy it! I'm now following your wonderful new blog as well as your other! I'm really excited! I show your 1st post about more women in the home improvement stores and i totally agree. You are also correct about not ever being able to find someone to help, and I feel that I know more than they do.... Good luck with your new blog, and when I post my Get Your Craft on Thursday party I'll let everyone know about your new blog! Will that be alright? I'm going to be making a headboard for my bedroom as soon as we finish the never ending bathroom!!!
Take Care,

Tammy@ Not Just Paper and Glue said...

I agree with the mineral oil It is excellent on wood products. Doesn't it also help keep it from drying out as well?

Ms Bibi said...

I would never think to use mineral oil. I use it to put few drops in my kids bath in the winter so I always have it in the house.

Thanks for stopping by and following.

Le Chateau des fleurs said...

I did not know this about Shellac.
Thank you for following me, following you back :)

Carrie @ Dittle Dattle said...

Thanks for following! This post is full of useful info!

Jan @ bobbypins boardwalk said...

Rory, I love to make things and often wish I had better instruction, rather than "winging it", as I often do and then must redo (haha). I look forward to learning from you, fellow craftswoman!

Scrappy Gifts said...

Great tips. Can't wait to read other tips from you. I just became a follower too! Thanks for becoming a follower of mine.

Pat Harris said...

Great idea for a blog. I know women are hesitant to use tools. I've learned from my ex. I am following you because the ex isn't always available. Thanks for visiting junkblossoms and welcome aboard! Blessings, Pat.

Allison @ House of Hepworths said...

Great tips! Thanks for the link!

Cat Haven Crafts said...

Hi Rory,
What is your opinion of using Minwax paste finishing wax? Thanks a bunch for your blog!

Rory said...

Cat Haven Crafts,

Thanks for your great question. I have never used Minwax Finishing Wax on food prep items such as spoons, and would probably avoid it. However I like that product alot and use it all the time as part of a final waxing process over the top of the last coat of polyurethane. I even carry it in my online store. There are some important steps though, if you are going to use it like I do. First of all the newly applied finish has to be COMPLETELY cured. 3 days of drying time or longer. Then I use a "slurry" made of mineral spirits and the Minwax Finishing Wax. I mash the mineral spirits and wax together with a fork to give it a thick soupy texture. I then apply it with #0000 superfine steel wool rubbing back and forth in the direction of the grain (never in circles). I then wait until it is hazy and then buff it off with a fresh piece of#0000 superfine steel wool. Use back and forth motions in the direction of the grain again, just like you did when applying it. I recommend doing a small area at a time. After that you can use a household wax like Guardian to really give it a wonderful lustre. Hope that helps you. Rory