Caring for your wooden product

Original article by Terry Vaughan

Cleaning and oiling

With reasonable care and attention your wooden product can last a lifetime.

To keep the piece as close as possible to its original display condition, it is best to minimise exposure to liquids. Remember that fruit allowed to spoil may stain a bowl and prolonged exposure to sunlight may also affect the finish and colour. Some timbers such as yew naturally darken with time and this cannot be avoided.

I normally use an oil finish to protect the wood and show off the colour and grain. Unless otherwise stated, bowls have multiple coats of lemon oil or mineral oil, which is safe for use with dry food e.g. fruit or nuts. The oil penetrates the wood and hardens, giving a durable finish that starts beneath the surface. It stands up to everyday use very well and can last indefinitely if well maintained.

Further coats of oil may be applied to refresh the surface if needed. Just follow the instructions on the can. If re-oiling, it is best to wipe the piece with white spirit first to remove any debris or dust. If you would like details on ware to source suitable materials, please get intouch.

Scuffs and scratches

Scuffs and scratches on any piece, should they occur, can be removed by rubbing along the line of the grain with very fine sandpaper or very fine steel wool, lubricated with the appropriate oil. Wipe off surplus oil before it dries.

If your bowl needs to be cleaned, wipe with a damp cloth and allow it to dry where there is adequate ventilation. None of my produce is suitable for cleaning in a dishwasher. If possible, avoid contact with direct heat e.g. don't place bowls on top of a radiator or very close to a warm fire.

When used to hold moist foods

Follow this quick guide and your bowl will stay food safe for many years.

  1. Gently wash the bowl using a non-abrasive cloth, warm water and mild dish soap. Rinse the bowl completely.
  2. Dry the the bowl with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  3. Allow the bowl to air dry, ensuring any water absorbed has evaporated. The bowl will appear to fade or dry out.
  4. Avoid contact with direct heat e.g. don't place bowls on top of a radiator or very close to a warm fire.
  5. To prevent warping, staining or cracking, at least once a week apply one or two coats of mineral oil to your bowl.
  6. To periodically sanitize your bowl, rinse with a solution of three tablespoons vinegar with one cup of water.

*Please note, many of my bowls are finished in lemon oil and have natural cracks and holes. These bowls, while fine for dry foods e.g. fruit or nuts, are not suitable for moist foods such as salads.

Important reminders

Do not soak your wooden bowl in water. Do not wash the bowl in the dishwasher. Do not use your bowl in a microwave or conventional oven. Do not place your bowl in direct sunlight for excessive amounts of time. Do not use a food-based oil, such as vegetable or olive oil, to condition your bowl as it will become rancid over time. Store your wooden bowl in a dry location at room temperature.