Typically the wooden vessels, items, I make are finished one of two different ways, and they are usually made for different uses. I term the differences as utility and artistic. All the information available today and endorsed by the American Association of Woodturners would suggest that generally all finishes in use today are “food safe” or said another way are suitable for any use. I believe this information is true, however, with that said, I would concede that a scientist I am not.
Utilitarian bowls would include any bowl or vessel whereby the intent is to eat directly from the vessel. This would include salad bowls, serving utensils, platters, popcorn bowls, nut bowls, etc. Any of these items I made would preferably be finished with walnut oil, beeswax, and other things. My walnut oil of choice is the walnut oil located with the cooking oils in the grocery store.
Walnut Oil has two very becoming qualities which are a) it never turns rancid; and, b) it hardens as it cures with age over time.
Use and or time will cause the wooden vessel to need to be re-coated which regenerates the wood, and a simple walnut oil application is all that is needed. Cleaning before recoating amounts to a rinse in mild soapy water. I have said to people to follow the same cleaning procedure you would with your favorite cast iron frying pan, wash, rinse and recoat.
Over the years, a well-loved and well-used salad bowl continues to gain “character” with the nicks, scrapes, and dings they gather. There is nothing wrong with this use as that was the original intent and so long as you recognize your use with choppers and knives it’s all good, but just understand the “character” adds up and the vessel will never be new after it’s used.
Generally, other vessels, I would describe as artistic or not necessarily used for food may include natural edge or bark edge bowls or vessels are finished with lacquer. The best refreshment we have found is just, good quality furniture polish used sparingly and kept at a minimum on the natural edges and voids.
Sometimes, as a matter of preference some of the wood I use may have areas in the wood that are softer, such as with spalted wood or extremely dry or deteriorating wood. Since oil absorbs into the wood areas with less consistent hardness tend to have inconsistencies with an oil finish. If this is the case, I would always advise a lacquer finish as opposed to oil.
At the risk of being too forthcoming, I will make a statement, “If you tell me the use of the vessel, I’ll honestly try to tell you the pros and cons. Case in point, use of bark edge bowls as a salad bowl will probably not be a good use as bark can turn loose or break from over use or wetting and drying.
Please remember that all bowls are hand turned and each bowl is completely UNIQUE and no two are the same.
Hand wash only. Do not soak. Dry thoroughly to prolong the life of the wood. Do not place in dishwasher, oven or microwave.
An important fact to remember is that each bowl is made individually from dry roughed out blanks and since they don’t start out the same and they are hand turned a set of salad bowls will have variances, size, thickness, color, etc.
Each bowl, when taken care of properly, will bring years of enjoyment to it’s owner.
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