View Full Version : Shiny finish for usable bowls?

Doug W Swanson
10-27-2010, 7:32 PM
Hey all,

I made a few bowls recently (cherry and walnut) and used salad bowl finish on them.
The cherry bowl looks really good and has a nice looking semi glossy finish.

The walnut, on the other hand, is pretty dull and matte looking. Is this because it's walnut? Should I put more coats on? Can I buff it to shine it up a little?

I was hoping for something with a little more sheen. Not super glossy but something between matte and glossy.

Also, since most of the bowls I will make in the future will be intended to be used what other finishes should I use?

I do have some Mahoney's walnut oil but for some reason I just used the salad bowl finish this time around.


Steve Schlumpf
10-27-2010, 8:03 PM
Doug - I don't have any practical experience with finishes for utilitarian bowls as most all of my turnings are decorative - but I know you can do additional coats of salad bowl finish or Mahoney's walnut oil and build up a sheen.

Michelle Rich
10-27-2010, 8:05 PM
I don't like finishes (chemicals) of any kind on my "eatin" bowls. If you sand to 800-1200 grit and buff the wood should have a soft sheen..you can also use beeswax & buff.

Sean Hughto
10-27-2010, 8:05 PM
I use walnut oil and beeswax, but first I sand to as high as I have teh patience for - like 150, 220, 400, 600, 1000. If the wood is really smoothed, it will show a little more sheen. I also apply a couple coats of this stuff over time:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/516F%2B2Cx5LL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/B0012XP7LQ/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=228013&s=hi)

And periodically during the life of the bowl. It keeps things looking crisp and with a sheen. Without oil and/or wax, the wood (especially the end grain areas) start to look really dull and faded. Mind you, none of this will make a bowl shiny like a coat of poly on some bookcase, but it looks rich and lusterous.

Sean Hughto
10-27-2010, 8:13 PM
By the way, here's a recent walnut effort of mine so you can see if it seems a to have the sheen you're looking for - as I say, it's not really shiny.

Roger Chandler
10-27-2010, 9:05 PM
Sean, that is a gorgeous bowl!

Bernie Weishapl
10-27-2010, 10:02 PM
I don't usually get a real shine on my utility bowls. I use the same as Sean does. Mahoney's walnut oil and then beeswax. Every year or so depending on how much they are used I will renew with walnut oil. I always put a note in the ones sold to renew after a year to 18 months. I used Salad bowl finish a few years ago and they turned gummy after use at least in our salad bowls we use which are walnut. I had to redo my sisters cherry bowls after 3 yrs because they became gummy.

Sean Hughto
10-27-2010, 10:08 PM
Bernie, when you guys say "salad bowl finish" are you referring the Behlen's product? I've never used it, but have heard it described as more like a varnish.

Bernie Weishapl
10-27-2010, 10:22 PM
Yes it is a varnish type finish Sean. There is also a General Finishes salad bowl finish. It just didn't hold up. I started using walnut oil and no problems after 3 yrs of using our bowls for everything from cereal to salad.

Doug W Swanson
10-28-2010, 12:04 AM
Hey all,

Thanks for the replies. I used General Salad Bowl Finish on these bowls.

The finish on your walnut bowl is what I'm after. In fact, the cherry bowl I coated with salad bowl finish has a very similar sheen. The problem is with the walnut bowl I coated at the same time. It's pretty dull and boring looking when compared to yours (and my cherry bowl).
It must also have something to do with the fact that cherry receives finish different than walnut.

I also have some walnut oil. Can I use it over the salad bowl finish or should I just leave it alone?

I will also have to try the bees wax, too. Maybe that will help on this bowl....

Jon Lanier
10-28-2010, 12:18 AM
You know, that all finishes, after drying are inert?

Reed Gray
10-28-2010, 12:26 AM
For daily use bowls, I use the Mahoney's oil. I will never put a solvent based finish on one of my bowls. I met a woman at a show who is allergic to petrolium distillates, and she informed me, quite emphatically, that it doesn't ALL go away. So, none of that type of finish for me. I don't sand beyond 400 grit. No real point in it unless it is for display rather than use. The walnut is more of an open grained wood, and is more difficult to get a shine on it. More dense woods will polish better than less dense woods. The only other way is to build up multiple layers of finish. Softer oils require less maintenance, and are easy for the owner to repair/replenish. If the bowl really gets used a lot, it will dull with use and washings.

robo hippy

Tony De Masi
10-28-2010, 7:54 AM
Doug, I am in the process right now of finishing a walnut bowl. I am applying the General Finishes Salad Bowl product. It took six applications to get the inside of the bowl to the sheen that I wanted. I will agree that with walnut you just don't get the same results that you may get with other types of wood.

As for the durability of this product, I made salad bowl sets for each of my kids four years ago. The bowls were maple. My daughter uses hers occassionaly and my son and DIL use theirs almosts daily. The finish has held up very will on both sets with no gumminess reported, or seen by me on my visits.

Thom Sturgill
10-28-2010, 9:50 AM
The orient has used lacquerware for centuries, and I have seen pieces that have been in constant use for over a century. Lacquer is one of the most repairable of finishes as the thinner is also a solvent that causes new layers to fuse to the old.

Charlie Reals
10-28-2010, 10:33 AM
The orient has used lacquerware for centuries, and I have seen pieces that have been in constant use for over a century. Lacquer is one of the most repairable of finishes as the thinner is also a solvent that causes new layers to fuse to the old.

+1 to that Thom, I firmly believe 99% of the food safe controversy is Paranoia created in the good old
U S A for whatever reason. jm2c, nothing political intended.

I make most of my denaro selling laminated (God forbid) :D utility bowls and chopping blocks. I use mineral oil and local beeswax. Someone is just as likely to be allergic to the bee product as anything else. I tell folks what I use, I sell them an unfinished bowl if they want.

Some folks like a real shine, for that I will use one coat of ao on the outside only and beale buff. No complaints yet and no deaths or allergic reactions I know of ;).