Professionals and Amateurs Together

Sealing Cooking Utensils


What are the considerations when carving and preparing wood for cooking utensils–non-poisonous sealing? How to prevent cracking and de-formation given that they live in heat and moisture?—Christopher Briggs


Jon Siegel replies: In the 1970s, I made functional turned kitchen-ware in large quantities. Since many turners were making bowls, I wanted to go in a slightly different direction and decided to specialize in sets of dinner plates, which I sold at craft fairs and craft galleries. Many of these plates (and some bowls) made their way into my own kitchen, and I still use them every day. Several of my plates have been used over 5,000 times (no exaggeration) by rough estimate, and they look the same as they did 30 years ago.

The only finish I ever use for kitchen-ware is a dip in light mineral oil, and drip dry overnight. Within a few days the surface will feel dry. Of course the oil does not dry (mineral oil never dries), it just soaks in.

Many people use a plant based oil, such as walnut oil, but I have never had success with them because they eventually oxidize and become rancid and/or sticky to the touch. Mineral oil is designed to be taken internally, has absolutely no taste, no color, and no odor. Whatever finish you are considering for your kitchen-ware—if it has any smell at all, don’t use it. Consider using no finish. In the long run the finish has no effect whatsoever on the service life of an object that will be washed thousands of times in hot soapy water, because after a short time, the finish is gone.

Tags: Finishing