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Thread: Durable Finish for Users

  1. #1
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    Durable Finish for Users

    So I've made some things that we've put to use in the kitchen (Spatulas, bowls, etc) and the one disappointing thing is that they look great when they're done but first hand-wash and the finish is gone, leaving you with a fuzzy hunk of wood. Any pointers on keeping it looking decent for at least a few washes?

    Edit: should I maybe try a coat of shellac between the oil and wax?
    Last edited by John Kananis; 06-09-2024 at 10:30 AM.
    "The reward of a thing well done is having done it." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  2. #2
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    John, what finish are you using now? I have been using Mahoney's Walnut Oil for years on utility pieces and have had no problems. When washing, I rinse and dry the wood immediately and think that may help. I also reapply the oil every few years as needed. Some spoons get used more than others, so I do re-coat them a little more often. As far as fuzzies, might depend on how small a grit of sandpaper you used when finishing. I usually sand to 320 grit and have not had any issues.
    Steve

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  3. #3
    I wouldn't use shellac on kitchen utensils. Unless I'm mistaken, shellac will absorb water and turn milky white.

    There used to be a guy sold very nicely carved wooden utensils at local craft shows. And unlike other seller's that used just mineral oil, his utensils had a glassy-smooth surface and beautiful semi-gloss shine.

    We picked a up a ladle and a few spatulas and, to my surprise, wash after wash, the finish and shine still look like new. For several months.

    About 6 months later, we saw him at another show and I asked what finish he used...

    His response, 'Tried & True' original. Several coats ... with a lot of buffing in-between."

    So I picked up a small can.

    After about seven or eight months, some of the utensils started to lose their luster and look a little thirsty for more finish...

    So I put about three coats on, and burnished between each as per the instructions.

    The worn spots looked better ... but not nearly as smooth or shiny as the non-worn spots.

    So, a few months later, when they needed another re-finish, I did about six coats with burnishing between each coat, as per the instructions. This time the worn spots looked almost as good as the original finish.

    Took a lot of work, but looked so much better than mineral oil ... in my humble opinion.

    If you decide to try it, be sure to get the T&T 'Original'. It's the one that is a blend of BLO and beeswax.

    On our cutting boards, I typically just use a walnut wax or Howard's Butcher Block Conditioner. Not quite the same sheen or silky smooth finish, but quicker/easier to apply since one or two coats usually does the job.
    Last edited by John McCrea; 06-09-2024 at 11:09 AM.

  4. #4
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    Hi Steve, I've tried a few but not Mahoney's. I've used the Doctor's wood bowl finish, odie's oil (and wax), salad bowl oil (terrible), t&t danish oil, tung oil (not polymerized), and every kind of wax I could find in the shop. Carnauba seems to offer the most protection but I'm not looking for high gloss in most things and I'm sometimes getting a little bit of a hazy spot or two beneath the wax. I'm sure a film finish would work just fine but I'm looking for something I can polish on and move on to the next piece.

  5. #5
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    John, I used to have a can sitting around somewhere but I think I got rid of it during a purge due to age. I'll grab some and try it out, thank you.

  6. #6
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    I was also thinking to try the polymerized tung oil from Lee Valley... anyone try this?

  7. #7
    Watch out for finishes that dry into a hard shell. These tend to crack and peel off when the wood swells from getting dunked in the sink.

    Unfortunately, they all end up looking like wood after a while. Sanding smooth after the first dunks in the sink helps a lot with the "Fuzzy" part. Even then, the dishwasher is the finish wrecker.

    Ultimately, though, wood is wood. If you want a material that doesn't react to water - plastic and metal are your friends.

  8. #8
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    John, thanks a bunch for the info. Yeah, I'm not looking to be unrealistic about this, I just want the item to survive the first 2 or 3 "hand" washes. Not interested in turning metal or plastic lol.

  9. #9
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    For wood spoons and cutting boards, I use no finish. The wood doesn't look flashy, but the utility is just fine. On bowls that will be used for food serving, I apply very thin coats of Minwax Rapid Dry Poly in very thin coats with a rag, and sand between each coat.

  10. #10
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    Thanks, Richard. I've been considering poly for some bowls but, for this purpose, I was hoping for something I could apply with a little friction and top coat with wax.

  11. #11
    My understanding is that as a general rule waxes are soft, and will rub off with washing. Hardest waxes may survive longer.

    When it was still on the market I applied several thinned coats of varnish. With daily washing with soft wide of a kitchen sponge, the finish eventually was rubbed back to the wood after a couple years.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kananis View Post
    Thanks, Richard. I've been considering poly for some bowls but, for this purpose, I was hoping for something I could apply with a little friction and top coat with wax.
    This is what my food bowls look like.I learned a long time ago, you can compromise a lot of hard work with a fast, or wrong finish
    soft maple bowl.jpg
    Last edited by Richard Coers; 06-10-2024 at 12:43 AM.

  13. #13
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    Was this one of the ones you finished with poly? Nice bowl.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    This is what my food bowls look like.I learned a long time ago, you can compromise a lot of hard work with a fast, or wrong finish
    soft maple bowl.jpg

  14. #14
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    Yes, 3 coats of poly with sanding between each coat and also the final coat. Buffed with steel wool after sanding the last coat.

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