J. Friend Woodworks

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Caring for Your Woodenware

First, I encourage you to really use your salad bowl or other woodenware item. I believe your appreciation of a turned piece will be enhanced by using it. And caring for your wooden bowl is easy if you know what to do

The Finishes I Use

I generally use one of two different finishes on my bowls/platters that are intended for use with food: mineral oil or varnish. (I never stain any of my pieces – the colors are all natural from the wood.) If you own a J. Friend Woodworks bowl or platter and it has a slick, glossy appearance, it has been finished with a wiping varnish. If the bowl looks dull, mineral oil has been used. Both of these finishes are food safe. In fact, all finishes are food safe after they have fully cured. This does not apply to mineral oil, as it does not go through a curing process at all. But varnish does. Usually the curing process for varnish takes about a month or more, depending on the humidity level. Finishing expert Bob Flexner recommends the sniff test: put your nose to the varnish and smell. If you still smell the strong odor of solvents, it is still curing.

Varnish protects the wood by sealing its pores. Therefore, you can use a varnish-finished bowl for a salad with dressing or a salsa dip, for example. You could use a mineral oil-finished bowl for the same uses, but its pores are still open to absorb whatever oils or liquids you put in it. Therefore, a mineral oil-finished bowl could show food stains over time, which can be very difficult (if not impossible) to remove. Again, both are food safe -- it is just a matter of personal preference.

Caring for Your Bowl/Platter

Woodenware with either of the finishes discussed above can be washed in the same manner: by hand washing with hot, soapy water. Never soak your woodenware piece. Never put it in the automatic dishwasher. Never use it in the microwave oven. Hand wash the piece and then either towel dry it or let it air dry. If the bowl has been finished with mineral oil, you can replenish the oil as needed by simply wiping more on with a soft cloth or paper towel. (Mineral oil is a food grade product, sometimes called butcher block oil, that can be readily purchased.) If your bowl has a varnish finish, no further care is needed after washing and drying.

If in the unlikely event the varnish ever appears scuffed or damaged, additional coats of wiping varnish can be applied. I use a regular alkyd-resin varnish and thin it 50% with mineral spirits. Thinning it makes it easier to wipe on evenly. I wet sand the varnish between coats with 1500 grit sandpaper, which removes any dust nibs and creates a smooth surface for the next coat.

If you have any problems with the finish on your J. Friend Woodworks bowl/platter, you can contact me and I will be happy to make any necessary repairs for free.

© 2016 J. Friend Woodworks